How to Get Rid of Ingrown Hairs, According to a Dermatologist
Ingrown hairs can happen anywhere, but especially in the areas where we shave, pluck or wax. They’re painful and irritating and can defeat the purpose of all the steps we take to achieve smooth skin. To help get to the root of the issue, we asked Dr. Alicia Zalka, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Surface Deep, why ingrown hairs happen and what we can do to get rid of them.
What causes ingrown hairs?
An ingrown hair is a hair trapped underneath the skin. After we shave or wax, “the hair grows back and meets up against the surface layer of skin, which acts like a closed door,” says Dr. Zalka. This is why ingrowns look more like irritating bumps than actual strands of hair poking out — the skin is blocking the hair.
How can you prevent ingrown hairs from happening?
To keep ingrown hairs from forming after shaving, Dr. Zalka recommends washing with hot water to open up the hair follicles. Follow up with a salicylic acid-based body wash to unclog pores and keep the skin “soft and pliable,” Dr. Zalka says. The CeraVe SA Body Wash for Rough & Bumpy Skin is a good choice because it contains ceramides to soften the skin and salicylic acid to gently exfoliate.
Right before you shave, make sure you reach for a clean, sharp razor. “Shave using a shave gel or cleanser — do not shave dry or with water alone,” Dr. Zalka says.
You can also consider switching your deodorant if your ingrowns appear mostly in your armpits. “Take a break from aluminum- or residue-laden antiperspirant or deodorant, which may contribute to clogged pores and pimples along with ingrown hairs,” says Dr. Zalka. The Surface Deep Anti-Odorant Pads are free of aluminum and sulfates and gently exfoliate using glycolic acid.
If you’re particularly prone to ingrowns, it might be wise to take a short break from shaving and waxing or switch to a different hair removal method entirely. “Consider laser hair removal, which greatly reduces chances of ingrown hairs by eradicating the hair follicle entirely,” says Dr. Zalka. “Do not try to pick or squeeze pimples or hairs as this could potentially make them more inflamed.”
Photo: Chaunte Vaughn