How To Treat and Prevent Ingrown Hair

*An abbreviated version of this article was published first as a Linkedin post 6/15/15

Ingrown hair- man or woman, we all experience them from time to time. For men, the problem is most common at the chin line or neck. Women seem to have the most trouble on the back of the legs, folds of skin or underarms. To understand how to prevent ingrown hair, it helps to understand the reasons why ingrown hairs form, and what to do to inhibit their development.

anatomy of our skin

anatomy of our skin

Overview: Skin facts related to ingrown hairs

The top two layers of the epidermis (Stratum corneum and the Stratum lucidum) are made up of mature or flattened cells and dead skin cells called Keratinocytes. These cells are constantly shed and replaced by cells from the lower layers of the epidermis.

The hair follicle is a little pocket of epidermis embedded deep the dermis. Hair itself is made up of the protein keratin. Hair and skin are protected by oils and cooled by sweat that are produced in small glands found throughout the skin and hair follicle.

So, shedding dead skin cells and buildup of keratin deposits, and also sweat and oils all contribute to a clogged hair follicle, or ingrown hair.

What is an ingrown hair?

Razor bumps, boils, ingrown hair….are they all the same thing?

Yes, in fact, all start out the same way. An ingrown hair is usually a coarse and curly hair that has looped back on itself and grows back into the skin. This can happen when the hair is cut, and then has a sharpened, beveled edge that can poke back into the skin. The result is a red bump, or bumps in an area. If the skin becomes infected, a boil can result.

Infected ingrown hairs could become quite serious, as this Cosmo article relates. If you notice that a client has many ingrown hairs, especially if the bumps are red, painful or pus filled, recommend that the client see their dermatologist for treatment right away.

What causes ingrown hairs?

Dull razors that cut the hair leaving it with a jagged edge, and a buildup of dead skin cells or oils and dirt that clog the hair follicle are a few reasons. Using fresh razors, or an electric razor can lessen the chances of developing razor bumps. Treatments such as waxing, electrolysis or hair removal creams are a good way to avoid ingrown hair.

At times, a client will ask if waxing causes ingrown hairs. The answer: Instead of causing ingrown hairs, a good wax treatment is a great way to exfoliate the skin. Exfoliation removes the debris that can clog the follicle and prevent the hair from growing out.

Is waxing better than shaving?

As a therapist, you know the benefits of a complete waxing treatment. Explain to your client each step:

  • Pre-waxing treatments cleanse and hydrate the skin of the dirt, oils and dead skin that could cause ingrown hair.

  • The wax removal exfoliates the skin, leaving the skin refreshed. Certain waxes have anti-inflammatory ingredients to help reduce any skin irritation. It is a good idea to have several choices of wax on hand to address different skin and hair types.

  • Using a post-wax treatment finalizes the skin, giving it much needed moisture.

  • The final step is your client’s best friend- using a product like Ingrown X-it by Lycon or Ingrown Zone by Mancine. Both formulas contain ingredients to reduce inflammation, clear pores and fight bacteria and are available in a cream or a convenient spray. You can send them home with a bottle for use in between treatments!

Your clients will appreciate your expertise on the subject and the knowledge you share with them. No doubt, many will become regular clients when they see the results of your treatments on their own skin!

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