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Dealing With Ingrown Hair

Most of us will get an ingrown hair from time to time. Left untreated, ingrown hair can become an unsightly problem. If the ingrown is on your face, it can look really bad and make passing all the more difficult.

Ingrown hair can happen for a variety fo reasons, including shaving too close, poor habits people may have for taking care of their skin and tweezing. Some people are just more prone to ingrown hairs, especially people with deep, dark, course, or curly hair. Sometimes oil, dirt, or dead skin cells can clog a follicle and trap a hair beneath the skin.

Regardless of why an ingrown hair happens, the net result is that the hair can't reach the surface of skin and gets trapped under the skin. As the hair continues to grow, it can burrow under your skin or curl up in the follicle. Ingrown hairs often become an infected, itchy, oozing mess. Left untreated, this can develop into "acne keloidalis nuchae," a condition where hard, dark keloid-like bumps form in the skin. These are not pretty and these bumps will hinder you ability to pass.

If you decide to dig out the ingrown hair, you should begin by preparing the area. It is often a good idea to soften the area by taking a hot bath, sauna, or a very hot wash cloth. Heat and moisture will often cause your pores to open, the hair and skin to soften, and encourage the hair to rise to the surface. Check to see if the hair is visible. If not, repeat using the wash cloth until the hair is visible.

Now, gently exfoliate with a loofa, synthetic sponge or product specifically designed to exfoliate. There are some good exfoliation products on the market. The best products contain either salicylic or glycolic acids. Personally, I use a product from "philosophy."

After exfoliating, make sure the area around the ingrown hair is clean, wash or bathe, so you won't re-infect the area. Remember that bacteria is always present on your skin. You can use hydrogen peroxide to help sanitize the skin. Don't use rubbing alcohol, since that can be too harsh on the skin.

You will need a pair of good, sharp pointed tweezers, and you should sanitize them too. Using the tweezers, try to lift the hair out of the hair follicle rather than just yanking it. If tweezers don't work, you may try using a sterilized pin. Afterwards, dab the area with the hydrogen peroxide to help prevent infection.

If you had an infected ingrown hair, the infection should clear up in a few days. If the infected ingrown hair is deep, you can use an antiseptic cream like, Cortaid. If the infected ingrown hair does not start to heal in a few days, you should see a dermatologist. If you have an ingrown hair you can't remove, or if you have a persistent problem with ingrown hairs, see a dermatologist. Trust me when I tell you that dermatologists are not cheap.

If you don't want to go to a dermatologist, or you can schedule an appointment quickly enough, you may have luck with an electrologist. These professionals are used to dealing with problems like ingrown hairs and should be able to treat the ingrown hair so that it stops growing. At a minimum, they will be able to examine the problem area up close with magnification and do a better job than you at trying to extract the hair.