Last Modified on Jan 09, 2014
Ingrown Hair - Cause and Treatment
An uncomfortable and often unsightly condition, an ingrown hair occurs as a shaved or tweezed hair grows and curls back into the skin rather than growing out of it. The result of an ingrown hair is often inflammation and irritation as well as a small to sizeable lump at the site of the hair. Any individual who shaves, tweezes, waxes or uses electrolysis to remove hair has the potential to develop and ingrown hair or hairs.
An ingrown hair can occur on any part of the body from which hair is removed; however, these hairs are most common in males around the beard area and in women in the armpits, pubic area and legs. While individual ingrown hairs may manifest differently, several signs and symptoms of ingrown hairs are common. Small, solid, rounded bumps as well as small, pus-filled, even blister-like lesions are common as a result of ingrown hairs. Additional symptoms include skin darkening, pain, itching and an actual embedded hair.
The structure and direction of growth are two factors that play the biggest role in ingrown hairs. However, several other factors may be involved as well. A curved hair follicle that produces a curled hair is often more susceptible to ingrown hairs than straight follicles. Shaving, pulling the skin taught and tweezing also contribute to the growth of ingrown hairs.
Natural Ingrown Hair Removal and Remedies
While ingrown hairs typically do not constitute a vast health concern, treatment is often necessary to restore regular growth. Common ingrown hair removal treatments include apple cider vinegar applied topically and taken orally and blackstrap molasses can eliminate ingrown hairs. Additional treatment options include garlic, oil pulling, salicylic acid, shea butter and talc. Continue reading below for tips from Earth Clinic on how to remove ingrown hair with home remedies.
Apple Cider Vinegar
[YEA] 01/21/2008: Paulo from Sao Paulo, Brazil: "re: ACV for anal warts. A few months ago I was horrified to find out a huge wart in between my butt cheeks. Soon later two more appeared as well very close to my anus. This intrigued me since I had tested negative for HPV on the year before (I am VERY paranoid about safe sex and such). I couldn't tell anyone about it because I couldn't explain how a guy can get this kind of stuff. So I searched online for natural cures (I'm all against Big Pharma , so a natural solution was a must). I searched online and found about ACV to be used topically, so that night I placed a huge moist cotton ball with ACV against my anus and went to bed. The next day was a bit uncomfortable as things got swollen, but I went on with it for another night. On day 3 I woke up and took a shower, and to my surprise the big one just fell off right on my hand! It was all black and seemed very spongee. But after two nights things were burning a bit, so I waited for everything to go back to normal before proceeding with the treatment.
Results: they were all gone by the 3rd application and haven't returned. Since then I have been using ACV on my face and I no longer have ingrown hair problems or razor burns. I also take it internally, 2tbsp with water and blackstrap molasses (I love it! Beats having a pop). My skin is great, BO is not an issue anymore, and things just seem to be going well. Thank you all for posting your comments and saving me from a very embarrassing visit to the doctor that would result in expensive and ineffective burns/freezes. It's nothing short of a miracle."
[BETTER BUT WITH SIDE EFFECTS] 02/05/2013: Mrsg from Jupiter, Fl , Usa : "My daughter had a nasty ingrown hair on her thigh that grew into a big red bump. I tried mashed garlic, put it into an empty tea bag, tied the tea bag with a string, and taped it over the infected area overnight. The next morning, the bump was gone, but the area where the garlic tea bag covered made the skin look like it was burned. Next time I would suggest covering a smaller area, and perhaps not keep it overnight."
Ingrown Hair Remedies
07/30/2013: Arin from Ohio: "I was burnt all over (3rd degree) so I have sensitive skin, I always have ingrown hairs on my inner thighs and buttocks and need a quick solution for the fact that I'm not fond of them nor is my fiance. Also, I need a way to lighten my scars asap. I'm 23 and have had my scars for 7 yrs. Yes I am fond of my unique look but really need to at least lighten them as they're on 67% of my body. Thank you."Replies
08/29/2013: Hermiticwonderer from Usa replies: "to 07/30/2013: Arin from Ohio -
I would try Rosehip Seed Oil for your scars.
You can also try a combination of the Rosehip Seed Oil with Jojoba Oil or Argan Oil. Some people think raw Argan Oil smells unpleasant but if you add an essential oil into it as well, it will mask the smell.
However, Rosehip Seed Oil by itself is phenomenal for scars and can help with: anti-aging, skin rejuvenation, repairs scar tissue (including acne, surgical, and burn scars, stretch marks ), deep wrinkles, UV damage (sun spots), radiation damage, hyper-pigmentation, brittle nails, dry and damaged hair, dermatitis, eczema, psoraisis, and all types of skin diseases
Add it to your daily regiment as a face / body moisturizer. You can apply multiple times during the day and I would definitely do so before you go to bed. I think you will definitly see some improvement :) Thanks! :)"
01/27/2011: Jane M from Arlington, Virginia: "I love this site and I use it all the time for most smaller health problems! EarthClinic has introduced me to the usefull properties of ACV and Garlic, so benificial! I'm writing because I noticed that your section on ingrown hairs (a problem I have had in my underarms and bikini area since I started shaving, and since then) was very small. I've used a few things to help, though none have really completely fixed the problem for me, but for less severe cases the asprin may be just the trick.
the first thing I tried to get rid of my ingrown hairs was neosporin. The goshdarn things were painful. I don't know about you, but I usually have about 3-5 individual hairs coming from every follicle (is that what the pore is?) and when I get ingrown hairs it gets very inflamed and hard to extract every individual hair or even know if I've got them all. So my boyfriend suggested neosporin and I tried it. I guess it helped with the pain a bit and I'm sure it didn't hurt by preventing infection.
then I went to google, and went through thread after thread of people with the same problem. I found a lot of people had found relief with an asprin mask or tonic made with witch hazel. The same thing has worked for me in the past for stubborn acne, so I was happy to try it and had the uncoated asprin in my medcine cabinet ready to go! The first thing I did while getting ready to make the tonic was put two of the asprin in my hand and added about 5-6 drops of water till they turned into a paste. I just put that directly on all the affected spots. It gets pretty flakey as it dries and if you put it on your face be careful around your nose it REALLY irritates for some reason if you inhale it. I noticed relief right away after it came off. It seemed much calmer. I put it on (either the mask or tonic) about twice a day. This CLEARED all but the most stubborn ingrown hairs within a week and most within a few days. I was very happy, as the asprin cost a dollar from CVS.
So then I was left with a few very stubborn ingrown hairs. At this point, I was fairly desperate. Every time I shave I get lots of tiny ingrown hairs that mostly resolve themselves in about 3 days with exfoliation in the shower and such, but usually a few are left if I don't treat them with the asprin. Even with treatment when I shave I'm usually left wth at least one I have to extract manually after the area calms down, and even then- problems. Not cool.
I see with further googling that somone suggests putting deoderant on the area. I thought that was a bad idea, so many chemicals in such a delicate area (bikini) is just asking for trouble. Or something. But I was desperate, like I said so I tried it. I hate to even include this one as it's not really an "earth" remedy, but it worked. Amazingly. It got rid of all the ingrown hairs after a few days, with results right away, after 30 min no more pain, no more inflamation. The hairs just worked out of the skin so quickly. If I put some on right after shaving and right out of the shower for a day or two I can shave up to twice a week without having problems, And even then minimal! Now it makes sense to me why my armpits never had the same trouble my bikini line did, even though I shaved those every day! I also plan to try oil pulling, I'll keep an eye out for if that helps!"
03/08/2012: Sajanana from Shaker, Ohio replies: "I'm going to use your remedy... Not trying to put it out there- I shave it into a mohawk it's like I only get razor bumps on the side and I'm really afraid to have sex with my boyfriend. Due to the fact he might thinks something's wrong so I'm going to reply back next week and tell you if it work! -Thank's lots"
05/02/2012: Briannahasit from London, Surrey replies: "Does it matter what form the deodorant is in? I. E spray or roll on. Also, can it be applied to the area (mine bikini specifically) daily to completetly prevent the formation of the ingrown hairs? :s Thanks :)"
[YEA] 08/09/2009: Carlsbad from San Diego, Ca: "Hi. This is my third week of oil pulling, and the oddest thing has happened. I've had ingrown hairs for years. Suddenly when I woke up this morning, those ingrown hairs were no longer hidden beneath my skin. I pulled them with no problem. What in the world does oil pulling have to do with ingrown hairs?
By the way, other results so fair: the whites of my eyes are particularly white. They're usually off-white, even yellow; mucous drains at the back of my throat when I pull (this just began happening a few days ago); my skin is suddenly baby-soft; and facial pockmarks are lightening up.
Oil pulling has become a very peaceful exercise for me. Love it! Thankfuk for the knowledge!"
EC: Thank you for the feedback! Would you mind telling us what type of oil you are using?
09/15/2010: Carlsbad from San Diego, Ca replies: "When I wrote that email last year, I was using EVOO. Eventually, my teeth began to go from that new found white to a scary greenish tint, so I switched to unrefined coconut oil. White teeth days are not consistent, BUT my teeth have shifted a bit; my bottom row used to be terrible crooked; it's noticeably straighter now. Is that possible???
Another long-term result: I do not break out in adult acne (which was a big part of my life before)unless I skip three days straight. Oh, and I can't remember the last time I had flu-like symptoms. I used to be some kind of sick all of the time! EC is a godsend!"
09/08/2011: Helpmealot from Denver, Co replies: "what is ec? I am very interested I have horrible teeth.... Ingrown hairs and a wart that has grown quite alot recently and become quite hard. What do I do???"
EC: EC=Earth Clinic
10/25/2013: Leslye from Cincinnati, Oh.: "Ingrown hair on female neck and chin: What can I do to get rid of this problem? The hair is too coarse to penatrate the skin which gets infected, swollen, red, etc. I am a sixty year old woman. Please help!"Replies
10/26/2013: Mama To Many from Tennessee, Usa replies: "Dear Leslye,
A small charcoal poultice over the area (overnight) may help it to draw out. It should at least help with the infection and inflammation. Apple Cider Vinegar might also draw it out, but I would be concerned that using it straight would be irritating to skin on the face. If you try that, dilute it with water and put it on a cotton ball and attach to the skin with a bandaid.
I am wondering if using some castor oil and or coconut oil as a facial moisturizer (overnight) on a regular basis would help the skin to function more optimally and reduce the likelihood of this problem. Both would also be food for infection, though you should not use castor oil on broken skin.
Please let us know what you find helpful and I hope you find relief soon.
~Mama to Many~"
10/26/2013: Rebel from Usa replies: "Try rubbing deodorant / solid.... The kind that is a white like stick deodorant on it. This may work, has been reported that this will make the hair come out... Yes I know it is on your neck...."
02/16/2011: Janeasher from Calgary, Alberta, Canada: "Hey everyone. I love this site and I'm glad we are all looking out for each other. I recently had an ingrown hair on my cheek and I picked at it (I have a serious problem controlling myself and find I am constantly picking at my face... Another issue I am dealing with. ) I put some ACV on it and have been treating it as well with some fresh Aloe Vera as well as a little bit of VCO. It's been 2 days now and its quite red and looks horrible. I'm scared I might have done some damage to my face and would love to hear some advice for what I should do as I'm feeling guilty that I caused this and I want to try and fix it. Thank you so much and god bless."Replies
[YEA] 09/08/2011: Maeryn from Calgary, Ab replies: "Hey all. I have always had ingrown hairs on the backs of my thighs and on my knees. They do not usually get infected. I keep them away by using an exfoliator brush and regular soap to the area. Really helps :)
And a shoutout to the other awesome lady from Calgary too :P"
05/10/2012: Hopelesslyconfused from Scotland replies: "I get the odd ingrown hair from various methods of hair removal on my legs and bikini area, I exfoliate and moisturise and they generally don't bother me. However, directly below my belly button I have a small area (about two fingers widths) that grows long dark hairs. I don't mind the fine light hair on the rest of my abdomen but this was bothering me and I started to pluck them out. The problem is they ALWAYS become ingrown. I've tried No Bumps and Ingrow Go, as well as ACV and none of these things work. The hairs were getting itchy and were very unsightly but now I have scarring from trying to remove the ingrown hairs and further ingrowing hairs even worse!!! Does anyone have any suggestions on how to avoid the ingrown hairs and reduce the scarring? Thanks in advance."
05/10/2012: Jennifer from Sunrise, Fl, Usa replies: "I am prone to ingrown hairs too, and I've found that I absolutely cannot wax in that area or I will get ingrown hairs. I followed every instruction for aftercare and used every product that my esthetician recommended and I still got lots and lots of ingrowns everytime. Now I shave only and I have no problems. Exfoliating the area is key, it will keep the hair follicle from clogging up. You can use a glycolic acid body wash (I like Aqua Glycolic Body Cleanser, not sure of the availability outside the US) or one with AHAs.
Some people make their own No Bump/Tendskin solution using crushed uncoated aspirin (salicylic acid) and water:
1) Crush 18 tablets of uncoated aspirin
2) Dissolve these in 5. 5 oz of 70% rubbing alcohol
3) Crush 8 tablets of uncoated aspirin
4) Dissolve these in 2. 5 oz of witch hazel
5) Combine the rubbing alcohol and witch hazel solutions. Some settling of aspirin may occur, just shake it well before you use it.
Apply everyday after waxing or tweezing.
Good luck! Jennifer"
09/08/2012: Cherie from Nashua, Nh, Usa replies: "As far as in grown hairs go, Nuetragina oil free acne wash (it's an orange liquid soap in a pump bottle) is a great help, that and maybe any soap that has salacidic acis=d in it (i know I spelled that wrong sorry)."
[YEA] 07/18/2009: Kathy from Stanwood, WA: "I used to get razor bumps and ingrown hairs along my bikini line where I shaved. I found that applying a small amount of product containing 2% salicylic acid prevented them. You can find products like this in the acne or psoriasis treatments at the local drugstore. Just read the label. I preferred a light lotion rather than liquid."
[YEA] 11/21/2009: Jenny from Perth, Australia: "My whole life I have had terrible dry skin and little bumps on my legs and arms (which I later discovered are in grown hairs). I was so self conscious about it I would not wear shorts even in summer. I now dry ex-foliate regularly and apply pure shea butter over my whole body every two or three days and the results are amazing."Replies
09/15/2010: Shan from London, UK replies: "Dear Jenny
Please let me know after how many days did you get amazing results? and by amazing results do u mean your skin is without any bumps and completely clear?"
09/15/2010: Janice from Coloma, Mi replies: "I love shea butter. I just purchased some shea butter soap and also some pure shea butter for my face. I had to go out of town to purchase it. Do you buy yours locally or on-line?"
06/11/2011: Aquines from Philadelphia, Pa replies: "hi amazon.com sells shea butter and other essential oil and soaps for you like coconut oil, she butter soaps, eucalyptus oil.. Ect.. Hope that helps you plus they offer great deals and discounts... You might even be able to find an amazon coupon code online by typing in mazon. com coupons."
07/15/2012: Valentina from Philadelphia, Pa replies: "You can also buy shea butter and other natural products from coastalscents.com they run a fair trade market with a small town in Africa and their stuff is great quality and it helps a good cause. They deliver quite fast too."
08/29/2013: Hermiticwonderer from Usa replies: "I also had this same skin condition although my skin is not super dry. Both my mother, sister and I get these little red bumps on the back of our upper arms and front of our upper thighs.
I do not have them anymore except for the occasional ones on my legs (which I think are inflamed when I shave). I got rid of them by eliminating meat 10 years ago and going completely vegan 2 1/2 years ago. It really really improved the overall health of my skin. Also, drinking more water helped to flush my skin out as well.
Also, exfoliating with a loofa in the shower really helped and using oil instead of lotion as a moisturizer. Try Rosehip Seed Oil, Jojoba Oil, Argan Oil, Hemp Seed Oil, Fractionated Coconut Oil, etc. If you shave in the areas where you have problems I would stop shaving for a bit to give it time to turn around.
My mom and sister still have them. They did not change their diets. :)"
06/24/2012: Assaf from Tel-aviv, Israel: "Hello, I have had a problem with ingrown hairs on my beard area for now about 6 years. I have some scarring from that. I've found that talcum powder on the ingrown hair, resolves it in about a day. I usually use it in the morning and in the evening. I don't put in on regularly, just when I have an ingrown hair.
Talcum makes the skin smoother, and has magnesium in it, I think, which helps the skin, or something. Perhaps some drying or protecting effect, too. Anyway, this really has shown itself many times to work very well."