Those Pesky Ingrown Hairs!

Ingrown hairs affect everybody.  Men and women, young and old, all face these irritating and painful bumps at some point in their life.

A common question I get all the time is, “Why do I get these ingrown hairs?”.  The answer to this question requires an understanding of what an ingrown hair actually is.

An ingrown hair develops when a hair follicle cannot push through a pore, which is an opening in the skin.  When that follicle cannot move straight up through the skin, it grows sideways and curls up under the skin.

This abnormal growth of the hair beneath the surface of the skin causes your body to react as if this hair follicle is a foreign body, similar to a splinter.  This immune reaction response results in the area feeling itchy and painful while also looking red, raised and inflamed.  Unfortunately, the human tendency to pick and scratch these areas just make things worse.

Ingrown hairs can be caused by several things we do every day:

  • Shaving, especially when we try to shave very closely to the surface when the hair in the area is very coarse.
  • Repeated waxing where the hair shaft is ripped from the root well below the surface, and then grows back in a way that prevents it from finding the usual pore opening.
  • Friction from clothing, especially in areas where the clothing may be tight such as around the neck in men and around the bikini area in women.
  • Excessive dead skin cell debris that causes the clogging of pores.

A relatively low-tech treatment is to exfoliate regularly over the ingrown prone area.  This effort removes dead skin cells that have accumulated on the skin surface, plugging the pores and preventing the hair from exiting.  By exfoliating, you provide a clear path for the hair follicle to grow normally through and then above the surface of the skin.

Sometimes ingrown hairs become very irritated and even infected, which you can tell when they begin to look like pimples.  If you are prone to these kinds of ingrown hair, using a benzoyl peroxide-based cleanser can help clear out dead skin cells, reducing skin bacteria, and dry out the pores simultaneously.

This type of cleanser can be particularly helpful in the areas of the body that are warm and subject to clothing irritation such as the underarms and the bikini region.  Also, like exfoliating, it is an affordable option to reduce ingrown hairs.

However, the ultimate solution would be to say good-bye forever to the hairs themselves.  Laser hair reduction, also known as laser hair removal, is the method that is the most effective and most expeditious.

This technology uses a laser beam to permanently remove hairs.  The beam passes through the top layers of the skin, seeks out the concentration of dark color within the hair root, and then causes a heat plume that destroys the root and the stem cells that produced the hair in the first place.

This phenomenon occurs when the root is in its growth phase and most sensitive to a burst of heat.  Once the laser beam meets the root at this phase, that hair will not grow back.

Additionally, laser hair treatments will even affect hair that are growing below the surface, and can virtually eliminate multiple ingrown hairs at once during the course of therapy.  This is especially evident in the neck with men, who develop what is called pseudofolliculitis barbae, most commonly known as “razor bumps”.  Women who are bothered by painful ingrown hairs in the bikini area and on the legs also get dramatic relief.

So, you don’t have to put up with ingrown hairs.  They can be dealt with in several non-invasive and effective manners.

If ingrown hairs are a problem for you, give us a call at (207) 873-2158 for a free confidential consultation.  You can also go right ahead and schedule an appointment to start the process of getting rid of those damn ingrown hairs.

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