Ingrown pubic hairs are hairs that appear in the vaginal area. These occur when the tip of the hair grows back into the skin at the root instead of the surface. When this happens, the body responds to the hair as though it’s a foreign object and symptoms like redness, itching, pain, or swelling begin.
Ingrown hair commonly occurs due to shaving, waxing or plucking. In most cases, they will clear up without treatment. However, if the hair doesn’t grow out of the skin, Ethos Spa recommends these six ways to remove ingrown pubic hair:
1) Stop shaving, waxing, and plucking
If you feel an ingrown hair bump causing you irritation and pain in the vaginal area, it’s important to stop shaving, plucking, or waxing until the bump goes away. Continuing to remove hair will aggravate the sensitive area, and may cause an infection or a scar. You should also avoid doing the following:
- Digging into the skin.
- Pulling or picking at the ingrown hair.
- Squeezing or popping the bumps.
2) Apply a warm compress
A warm compress will also help bring out the ingrown hair so you can remove it easily. Run a clean washcloth under hot water, then press it against the bump in a circular motion for 3-4 minutes. Once the washcloth cools, run it under hot water and repeat the process. This will open up the follicles so you can pluck out the ingrown hairs.
3) Gently tweeze out the hair when it appears
With a pair of sterile tweezers, gently pull the hair that emerges. You can draw out the top of the hair with a needle. Make sure that the tip is out of the skin before waiting to pluck it out completely.
The area needs to heal first, or else the skin will heal over the hair follicle underneath. Avoid digging or breaking into the area because this may cause an infection.
4) Exfoliate regularly
Gently washing, exfoliating, and rubbing around the bumps everyday can guide the hair to return to the skin’s surface. With a wet washcloth, rub around the bump in a circular motion. This can also dislodge any dirt, oils, or dead skin cells that trap the ingrown hair.
Over-the-counter (OTC) products and home remedies are also a great way to relieve bumps and prevent ingrown hairs. Here are some effective remedies to try:
- Salicylic or glycolic acid: These products can keep your hair follicles open to prevent hair from getting trapped. It’s best to avoid them if you currently have ingrown hair, since these substances may cause irritation.
- Benzoyl peroxide cream: This acne medicine can reduce the redness and inflammation in the affected area.
- Tea tree oil: Another acne medicine, tea tree oil can kill bacteria and bring down swelling. Dilute the oil with water and apply to the affected area with a cotton ball.
- Baking soda: Baking soda can reduce inflammation in the skin. In one cup of water, mix a tablespoon of baking soda. Apply this with a cotton ball then rinse with cold water.
- Sugar: Sugar is a natural exfoliator that can kill bacteria. Make a paste with half a cup of brown or white sugar and olive oil, then apply on the area in a circular motion. Let it sit for 10 minutes then wash with warm water.
5) Use ointments or creams to reduce inflammation
Inflammation, redness, and discomfort may be caused by ingrown pubic hair, so you can call your doctor to prescribe an ointment or cream that can reduce the swelling and irritation. A topical steroid cream can help you soothe the itchiness and lower the risk of infection. Other creams your doctor may prescribe are:
- Witch hazel
- Aloe vera
- Anti-itch cream
- Benzoyl peroxide
6) Use retinoids to clear up dead cells
If you’re concerned about the dark patches that formed because of the ingrown hair, you can use retinoids like tretinoin (Retin-A or Renova) to clear up the dead skin cells. Moisturize well after applying retinoids because these substances can cause dryness.
Be sure to consult with your doctor before using retinoids, since this medication is dangerous for pregnant women and may cause birth defects in unborn children.
What Causes Ingrown Pubic Hair
When hair is removed, it usually grows back up through the skin without any problems. However, some hairs may grow under the skin and cause a negative reaction, because it senses the hair shaft is a foreign object.
Ingrown hair is a common problem and there are several causes. You might get ingrown hair because of how you remove hair, the clothes you wear, or even the type of hair you have.
- Tight clothing: Tight clothing that rubs and irritates the genital area may also cause ingrown hair bumps to appear.
- Shaving: When hair is shaved, sharp edges are created. The shortened hair can curve and re-enter the skin as it grows back.
- Waxing: Every hair follicle grows from a bulb which has a tube. Inside the tube, a lining guides the hair up to the surface. When the hair is waxed, the follicle is pulled up rapidly and this lining is disrupted. The lining is unable to let the hair grow out into the skin’s surface.
- Tweezing or plucking: Tweezing or plucking may leave a hair fragment underneath the surface. When these fragments grow, they remain under the skin and become ingrown.
- Thick, curly hair: People with thicker, curly locks are more at risk for developing ingrown hairs than people with fine, thin hair. Curved follicles re-enter the skin once the hair grows back.
How to Prevent Ingrown Pubic Hairs
The best way to prevent ingrown hair is to avoid removing the hair altogether. However, this doesn’t work for everybody. If that is the case for you, here are some tips you can follow to prevent ingrown pubic hairs:
1. Prepare yourself before shaving.
When you shave dry hair, sharp edges are created and these are more likely to grow back into the skin and become ingrown. This is why it’s important to first wash and rinse the pubic hair with warm water and mild soap before shaving. You can use a warm, damp compress too.
Next, apply shaving cream or gel to soften your hair. Make sure to choose a lubricating product that is designed for the sensitive genital area. Other products containing chemical exfoliants such as glycolic, lactic, or salicylic acid can help dissolve the dead skin cells that trap ingrown hairs, so try to find one that contains these substances.
2. Choose the right tools.
Avoid using a dull razor when you shave. With a dull razor, you need to go over the skin more than once, which may lead to ingrown hairs and infection. Replace your razor after a few uses to ensure clean, precise cuts.
You should also choose a single-blade razor over a multi-blade one, since multi-blade razors can cut the hair beneath the skin. Single-blade razors move across the skin at a gentler angle, which prevents irritation. You can also look into electric razors or clippers, since they can give you a good shave as well.
Don’t forget to rinse the blade after each stroke, since this adds lubrication while you shave. You also get rid of the shavings that clog the blades, which make it harder to remove hair in one swipe.
3. Be gentle when removing hair.
It’s best not to go against the grain when shaving. Going against the grain will get you a close shave, which makes it easier for the hair to curl back into the skin.
Additionally, stretching your skin tight when shaving can also cause ingrown hairs. The tips of the remaining hair can shrink back easily, so let your skin sit naturally while shaving. You should also moisturize your skin after shaving so it remains smooth and hydrated.
Moisturizing reduces the possibility of irritation because it fortifies your skin’s protective barrier. It’s especially good to moisturize if you use a chemical exfoliant for hair removal, since these cause dryness when used frequently.
4. Consider alternative removal options.
Shaving, waxing, and tweezing aren’t the only hair removal options available in the market. There are safe, technologically advanced solutions to get rid of unwanted body hair such as:
- Electrolysis: Electrolysis is a permanent hair removal solution that utilizes tiny needles with an electric current to treat the follicles. It’s an FDA-approved treatment that requires several sessions for maximum results.
- Chemical removers: The pubic area is more sensitive compared to the other areas of the body, so chemical removers should be treated with caution since these can irritate sensitive skin. You can test the remover on a small area of your body to see if a reaction will take place, before applying it to your pubic area.
- Laser hair removal: Though this procedure is a more expensive option, it can treat follicles at a deeper level. Hair either grows lighter and finer than before, or doesn’t grow back at all. When performed by a licensed doctor or technician, laser hair removal is an effective solution with few risks.
When to Consult With Your Doctor
In most cases, ingrown pubic hair disappears on its own. However, problems may arise if it doesn’t go away and becomes infected. Signs on an infected ingrown hair include darkened skin and painful, pus-filled bumps in the area. The chance of infection increases if a patient continues to scratch and pick at the infection site. If you notice signs of infection, consult with your doctor immediately.
For safe hair removal options, visit us at Ethos Spa. Our team of experienced physicians and technicians have done laser hair removal for years on countless patients, so we know the ins-and-outs of this procedure. We’re committed to helping our patients remove unwanted hair in the safest and most efficient way possible. Book a consultation with us to learn more.