Ingrown Hairs

Closeup of skin with ingrown hair
“My ‘Swimsuit’ is a T-Shirt and Shorts.”

A friend complained that, while she may have thick hair, other parts of her body have thick hair too!  She even admits to shaving her toes on occasion.  She is sometimes plagued by the problem of ingrown hairs on her bikini line and underarm areas.  She said she does not have a bikini body, but even if she did, she said, there is no way she would wear one, instead she wears a t-shirt and shorts.


Ingrown hairs happen when a hair grows sideways or curls back into the skin. It commonly occurs after some type of hair removal (shaving, plucking, waxing or other methods). Shaving is the biggest offender and wearing tight clothes as well. Sometimes dead skin can clog up a hair follicle, causing the hair to grow sideways. They affect mostly people with coarse or curly hair, and usually in the areas where most hair removal is done (beard, legs, underarm and pubic area.) Ingrown hairs can be a pain in the butt (literally) because a person can actually get them on their buttocks. They can cause itching, discomfort and the desire to hide one’s bikini line under a pair of basketball shorts.


Signs of ingrown hairs may include itchy skin, rash and hair left behind despite shaving. Where is an ingrown hair, a small, reddish bump can appear, similar to a pimple.  These are sometimes called “razor bumps.” There may be pus inside the bumps and the offending hair may be seen just beneath the surface. Ingrown hairs can also become infected and turn into a sore or a boil.


Though ingrown hairs usually go away on their own without having to remove them, they can be treated at home, even in the case of a mild case of infection.  Washing or lightly scrubbing the area with warm water and soap may loosen the hair follicle and encourage it to come out of the skin.  Tea tree oil, oatmeal-based lotions and warm, moist compresses are other treatments for ingrown hairs.

An attempt may be made to remove an ingrown hair with sterilized tweezers or needles – only if the hair is near the surface of the skin.  Digging for the hair only increases the risk of infection. It is particularly risky to try to remove an ingrown hair, especially if it is infected exposes the follicle to bacteria and can cause the infection to spread. Scarring can also result.

Possible Complications from Infected Ingrown Hairs

To avoid the following complications, take measures to prevent ingrown hairs and treat any infections promptly: razor bumps, hyperpigmentation, permanent scarring, hair loss, hair follicle destruction.

When shaving or waxing, try the following tips:
  • Wash the skin first to help prevent bacteria from entering the skin.
  • Change your razor often to avoid dull blades.
  • Remove hair in the direction of growth.
  • Use shave gel with warm water.
  • Apply lotion to the area afterward.

A permanent solution to issues of ingrown hairs would be to visit a professional electrolysis technician.  They will give you the most effective information, and provide laser or electrolysis treatments to remove ingrown hairs and help prevent their recurrence for the future.