There are a lot of over the counter treatmentsa for ingrown hairs but they don't actually work very well. Using topical "abrasives", "steroids" (cortisone), anti-inflammatory agents, retinoids, antibacterial agents, antibiotics, special razors or combs have not been very successful for ingrown hairs. Many people have wasted considerable amount of time and money on ineffective or minimally effective over the counter or prescription products – creams or devices for ingrown hairs.
Waxing, plucking or tweezing may produce a damaged hair follicle or hair shaft that increases the risk of another ingrown hair.
A doctor can perform electrolysis, IPL (Intense Pulsed Light), or laser treatment to permanently remove hairs that become ingrown repeatedly.
But there is something you can do at home that costs very little. That is you can carefully work the end of the hair back out of the skin so it is no longer ingrown. This is how:
Identify the ingrown hair.
Not all bumps on the skin are caused by ingrown hairs. Ingrown hairs, often called razor bumps, occur most frequently on the beard area or on other places, such as the legs, where you shave. They typically cause skin irritation that looks and feels like a small pimple or cyst and which may contain pus. You may also be able to see the hair just below the skin.
Apply a warm, moist compress to the area for a few minutes to soften the skin. Thoroughly wet a clean washcloth with very warm water and hold it against the affected area. When the washcloth cools down, run it under warm water again. If you can see the ingrown hair embedded in the skin, this treatment will soften the hair and bring it closer to the surface. If you can't initially see the hair, leave the warm compress on until it rises to the skin's surface. If you apply the compress for ten minutes and you still can't see any sign of hair, the problem is probably something else--see a dermatologist if the problem persists.
Use a sterile needle or tweezers to gently tease the hair out of the skin.
The warm compress should have brought the hair to the surface--don't dig for the hair if you can't easily get at it. Don't pluck the hair out completely if you can avoid doing so; just make sure that the ingrown end is out of the skin. It may take a little time to coax the hair out: be patient, and do not cut the skin.
Wash the area around the (formerly) ingrown hair with warm water and a moisturizing soap. Gentle washing helps prevent infection, but soap that dries out the skin and the hair can make it easier for the hair to become ingrown again. The solution: use a moisturizing soap, or apply a separate moisturizer after you apply antiseptic.
Apply an antiseptic.
An antiseptic, such as hydrogen peroxide, benzoyl peroxide or rubbing alcohol can be dabbed on the skin with a cotton ball or cotton swab to provide extra protection against infection.
Shave correctly to prevent recurrence.
Since most ingrown hairs are caused by shaving, the easiest way to prevent them is to grow a beard. Even hairs that are initially ingrown will usually grow out in time. If shaving is a must, however, be sure to do it right.
Use the right shaving implements.
If you're shaving the right way but ingrown hairs persist, try switching up your shaving tools. The longer the hair, the less likely it is to curl back into the skin, so try shaving less closely by using a single-blade razor or electric shaver instead of a multi-blade razor. Also, be sure to moisturize after shaving. Using a moisture-rich aftershave or lotion will soften hairs so they won't easily be able to penetrate the skin.
Unclog your pores.
If your ingrown hairs are stuck underneath the skin (as opposed to those which grow out and then grow back in), you probably have a blockage of the hair follicles. Use non-comedogenic shaving cream and aftershave (non-comedogenic products don't clog pores), and try using an exfoliating product or applying an acne cream containing salicylic acid.
If you have an ingrown hair you can't remove, or if you have a persistent problem with ingrown hairs, see a dermatologist.
If you can't see the hair initially, leave the warm, moist compress in place for a while longer.
You can sterilize your tools by boiling or by cleaning with alcohol.
Try loosening your clothing. Next to shaving, tight clothing is the most frequent cause of ingrown hairs, particularly on the legs. Try wearing looser pants, skirts or shorts, and see if the problem goes away.
If you have persistent or widespread ingrown hairs, consider either chemical or laser hair removal.
Try exfoliating regularly. Take a loofah to your skin every time you shower, and you'll not only get rid of flaky dead skin, but also loosen up and prevent ingrown hairs.
To prevent infection, be sure your needle or tweezers are sterile before you extract the ingrown hair. Also, make sure the skin around the hair is clean.
If the inflammation extends beyond the immediate area of the hair follicle or persists for more than a few days after the hair has been freed, consider visiting a dermatologist or your primary care physician.
Discontinue use of any shaving product or skin care product if irritation occurs.
If tweezers don't work, try a sterilized pin.
Things You'll Need
Clean washcloth and warm water
Sterile needle-nose tweezers or a small needle
Moisturizer or moisturizing aftershave