What is Ingrown Hair- Pictures, Symptoms: Severe, Hurting, Itchy

What is ingrown hair and its medical term? How does it form? How does shaving, waxing and laser hair removal cause ingrown hairs? What are the symptoms or signs of an ingrown hair? How does it feel and look like?In this article, discover what is ingrown hair with pictures and videos, explore causes, symptoms of ingrown hair, what to do in both severe and mild cases, various terminologies that are used to refer to ingrown hair and how you can get rid, prevent or lessen their occurrence.

What is Ingrown Hair? -Medical Term, how they form or Happen

What is Ingrown Hair? Meaning & Medical Term

The Wikipedia defines ingrown hair as a condition where hair curls back or grows sideways into the skin. In other words, it means a hair that does not come out from the hair follicle but remains embedded in the skin normally leading to inflammation which may be followed with irritation. This condition is mostly prevalent in individuals with thick/coarse/uneven, curly hair and sensitive skin. With ingrown hair, though not always, comes razor bumps or hair follicle infection.

The Medical term / name for ingrown hair is Pseudofolliculitis barbae or PFB

Other names or terms that refer to ingrown hair include;

  • Barbers itch
  • Shave bumps
  • Hair bumps
  • Folliculitis barbae traumatica
  • Scarring pseudofolliculitis of the beard

How do Ingrown Hairs form or happen?

Hair bumps usually happen after you have removed unwanted hair from your body. This can be through shaving, tweezing, waxing etc. ingrown hair produce pimple-like bumps  on the skin which sometimes may be itchy. The backward growing hair don’t necessarily cause any medical complication only that they may scar after they are gone leaving you with marks on the skin which spoil your appearance. If left a lone, they disappear after sometime without treatment.

Ingrown hair can be classified into two categories;

  1. Transfollicular 
  2. Extrafollicular

Tranfollicular is when the hair never left the follicles but instead grew back to the follicles. This causes irritation and fluid building up which is the pus that usually appears on the skin.

Extrafollicular is when the hair has exited the follicle and due to its blunt edge it doesn’t pierce through the skin to the surface. Instead it bends and grows sideways or towards the follicle.

How ingrown hair form or happen
Ingrown forming illustration

What causes Ingrown Hair? Shaving, Waxing & Laser Hair Removal?

Causes of Ingrown Hair Bump Razor/Shaving Bump

The number one cause of ingrown hair is hair removal. As you may have already guessed, it is simply shaving. As a matter of fact, almost everyone removes unwanted hair and shaving is the most common method of hair removal, followed by plucking. Sometimes when you shave too close to the skin you cut off the sharp edge that could otherwise be used to pierce through the skin causing ingrown hair

Razor bumps affect all the areas that can be shaved like face, scalp, neck, legs, armpits, pubic area for women. The shocking thing is that ingrown hair can even occur in the nose for those with nasal hair. Ingrown hair in the nostril is prone to infection more because there is a lot of moist and warmth in the nose.

Your genes also contribute to the likelihood of suffering from this condition. That is, your skin & hair type. As mentioned earlier above, ingrown bumps mostly affect people with sensitive skin, curly and thick hair because the hair can easily curl back and grow towards the skin or sideways.

However, those with uncurl hair are not exempted from this condition since it can also be caused by clogging of the follicle that leads to the hair  grow sideways in the skin.

According to WebMD, individuals with high levels of certain sex hormones can have excessive hair growth, which makes it more likely to get ingrown hairs, especially after shaving.

Poor shaving techniques and habits (such as over-shaving) in addition to unhygienic tools  & practices also cause ingrown hair.

Does Waxing & Laser Hair Removal cause Ingrown Hairs?

Waxing and Ingrown Hair

Waxing is a popular method of removing hair that is highly probable to causing ingrown hair. This is because the skin is under a lot of pain during the procedure and the fact that the procedure itself pulls the hair forcefully from the follicles. This may cause damage to the hair pore increasing the risk of getting ingrown hair. Waxing, which is the semi-permanent removal of hair from the root, is usually of two types;

  • Strip waxing
  • Strip-less waxing.

Those who have sensitive skin are advised to use strip-less waxing technique because it is less painful. Waxing is advantageous because it allows you to remove a large amount of hair at once. On the other hand, waxing mostly causes razor bumps because it breaks the hair at the surface of skin which in turn increases the level of rashes or bump appearing. It may also cause minor bleeding. Avoid taking alcohol when you are going to be waxed, this is because alcohol reduces the hair pores making the process more painful and may result to ingrown hair afterwards.

Laser Hair Removal and Razor Bumps

The laser method of hair removal kills the hair follicle making it unable to support hair to grow hence closing the follicle. This is done through exposing the skin to pulses of laser lights which destroys the hair follicle. For those women who are affected by bikini hair or facial hair mostly go for this method. This is because they don’t have to shave anymore and ensures that you don’t get any razor bumps. Laser method is pain less and reduces the chances of getting an infection. After your laser session, you are advised to keep the area moisturized.

How does an Ingrown Hair look /feel like? Pictures & Video

How does and Ingrown Hair look like? Pictures/Photos

It creates a raised up, red bump(s)  that appears or looks like a little pimple. At times a shaving bumps  can form  boil-like sores which are in most cases  painful. Below are pictures of ingrown hair on legs face and other parts of the body including infected razor bumps.

Ingrown Hair on  leg Pictures

Picture of Ingrown Hair on leg
Ingrown Hair on leg

Infected Ingrown hair Pictures

Infected ingrown Hair Picture
Infected ingrown Hair pictures

Ingrown Hair Pictures on Stomach and Head

Ingrown hair on head (left) and stomach(right)

Ingrown Hair Video

Ingrown Hair Symptoms-Do Ingrown Hair Hurt, Itch or Bleed?

What are the signs or symptoms of ingrown hair?

  • Do Ingrown Hair Hurt?
  • Are ingrown hair bumps Itchy?
  • Do Ingrown Hair Bleed?
  • Do ingrown hair cause swelling?

Symptoms of ingrown hair include;

Ingrown hairs do hurt, itch and may bleed. Itching on the freshly shaved area occur due to the accumulation of toxin and the dead skin.

Ingrown hair mostly is itchy and hurt because to the body it is foreign bodies. So the body adopts a mechanism to protect itself and as a result the itch occurs. Infection of the razor bumps also makes them painful and if they are scratched they may cause bleeding.

If they are scratched, they may start to bleed. Another likely cause of bleeding is rapturing of the bumps.

You should avoid scratching or doing anything that can lead rapture. Instead, consider getting an appropriate remedy that will enable you to remove the dead skin which is causing the itch.

If your ingrown hair is so severe, very itchy, highly infected you are advised to visit your doctor for help.

Embedded hair can be seen beneath the skin, curled, growing backwards or bent. Pimple like bumps that are pink or red appear on the shaved area that have raised as a result of the hair bending or curling instead of piercing through the skin. It is the bending and curling that causes swelling.

May cause pain and discomfort because of an infection because of the skin that has been damaged causing tenderness.

Pus-filled blister–like lesion after they get infected which may rapture opening up the wound. This may increase the level of getting an infection. It may also cause bleeding. Or infection may also occur because the ingrown hair isn’t looked after in a hygienic manner.

Discoloration of the skin occurs after the ingrown hair has healed leaving scars if they were infected. Skin discoloration may also occur as a result of the embedded hair.          

What to do for Severe Ingrown Hair?

Before you think of how you can do away with ingrown hair, it is better to first know how to prevent their occurrence because prevention is better than cure.

The easiest and cheapest way to prevent as well cure ingrown hair is to stop shaving. Just let your hair grow naturally especially if it isn’t a problem – this may depend on the culture of the people around you. When you are shaving, it is good not to shave too close to the skin and shave towards the direction of the hair growth and use only one stroke don’t repeat on the same area. Using single blade razor will help you avoid shaving too closely.

You may also consider shaving after three to four weeks so that you can reduce the frequency of getting the razor bumps. When you are planning to shave prepare the skin first by wetting the area with warm/ hot water using a wash cloth. You may as well apply a shaving cream or soap to act as a lubricant. This will reduce the chances of ingrown hair occurring. After shaving you should rinse with cold water and apply moisturizer

Mild ingrown hairs usually go away by themselves after 3 to 4 days, so you might wait for them to go away naturally. For minor case you may also try to massage the area with a hot wash cloth or with a salt solution. You can also apply Vaseline on the area it helps to eliminate the itchy feeling and the shaving bumps. You should also avoid piercing the skin to remove the ingrown hair because it may damage the skin and cause infection or might increase the chances of your skin scarring.

In the case of severe ingrown hair,

  • Laser hair removal method helps to solve this problem because it eliminates the chance of the follicle supporting hair growth permanently.
  • Another solution is electrolysis which also permanently disables the ability of hair growth on that area.
  • You might as well use antibiotics orally or apply them on the area. They help to treat inflammation and skin bacteria that are growing.
  • Chemical depilatories may be another solution to a severe ingrown hair case but it is advisable that you apply cream such as hydrocortisone to reduce irritation after the procedure.
  • For the hyperpigmentation that might have been caused with the razor bumps, you can apply a cream to help fade away the discoloration i.e. kojic acid.
  • You can also have the shaving bumps medically removed by incision and pulling out the hair

Above all you should visit your doctor for advice on the above, or to check which method will suit you and the state of your ingrown might be. You should take good care of yourself hygienically since shaving bumps may be caused by your poor hygiene or poor tools for shaving.



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