How to Prevent Ingrown Hairs
Beneath your skin something could be occurring that could prove detrimental to reaching your goal of a healthy, blemish-free appearance. You may notice, not long after you shave, that small bumps may appear.
These may become further irritated resulting in redness, itchiness, discoloration, or infection. What is known as pseudofolliculitis barbae but commonly referred to as "ingrown hairs" or "razor bumps" may be transpiring deep beneath where even your eyes cannot see.
What are the causes of ingrown hairs? And is there anything one can do to effectively deal with this situation?
Both men and women have reported this to be among one of the major concerns regarding how to take care of their skin's health especially after shaving.
Ingrown Hairs, as the name implies, occur when the end of the hair shaft is cut resulting in a sharpened edge that as it grows, curls back into the same hair follicle and results in an inflammatory response (redness, itchiness, and/or raised infected area).
Razor Bumps (caused by infected hair follicles) come from the end of the hair shaft that, after being shaved, is cut in such a way that again the end of the hair is sharpened and as it continues to grow it curls into another nearby hair follicle.
This introduction of the sharpened end of a hair follicle into another causes an inflammatory response in the skin and leads to a pimple or bump because of the inflammation of the skin.
The seriousness of the inflammation and infection of the ingrown hair or razor bump may vary. For some this is an annoying occurrence that doesn't pose a serious health problem.
For others pseudofolliculitis barbae can develop into extreme Folliculitis when the hair follicle becomes acutely inflamed. Bacteria, yeasts, or fungi infections can further exacerbate the problem, and there are even acne variants of this same condition.
For the majority of the cases however the suggestions that we can point to in this article first have to do with shaving itself. Those with naturally curly hair will have more of a propensity towards ingrown hairs and razor bumps.
Many have found a decrease in occurrence when using an electric razor (electric razors are also available for women) due to the fact that although the shave may not be as close as that of a blade, the close cut resulting from the blade may be the cause of the end of the hair shaft becoming so sharpened and easily re-entering a hair follicle.
Especially is this the case with double-track razors.
Next: Washing the skin before shaving is helpful in exfoliating and lifting the hair away from the follicle while softening the hair and preparing it for the shave.
Then shave in the direction of the hair growth (perhaps even every other day). Shave in the same direction each time.
For ladies: on the leg area this means shaving down instead of up. Shaving in the same direction (and not against the grain) helps to train the hair to grow out straight, thus preventing it curling back into the skin.
Afterward a damp warm towel can be applied for a few minutes to further soothe and soften.
Ingrown Hairs? What to Do
If ingrown hairs are still a problem after making sure that the shaving process was completed in such a way that more occurrences are prevented, then you must remove the plug of hardened proteins that are blocking the hair follicle with exfoliation products so that the hair may grow outward.
Beta hydroxy acids (such as a salicylic acid) are best for this because they penetrate deeply into the plug of hardened proteins and slowly dissolve the plug.
If the inflammation has progressed to the point of serious infection, then a dermatologist or physician will need to be consulted. Another option of course would be laser hair removal.
Exfoliating every time you bathe and cleanse the face, use a product that contains a beta hydroxy acid such as salicylic acid.This is a good defense against ingrown hairs and razor bumps.
Gentle cleansing and keeping the skin smooth and supple works well to keep the hair follicles moisturized and growing in the right direction.