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Ingrown Hairs & Acne

By Casey Holley ; Updated July 18, 2017

Ingrown hairs and acne, dermatological conditions that can affect many areas of the body, crop up where hair is removed such as on the the face, legs and bikini area. Acne on the face is the bane of many teenagers. Over-the-counter treatments and prescription drugs treat both conditions.


Both acne and ingrown hairs produce blemishes. These blemishes are usually red bumps, and they may contain pus. Acne can come in the form of flesh-colored, white or black spots on the face, but ingrown hairs don't produce these flat or slightly raised spots. Pain and itching may sometimes occur with these conditions.


An ingrown hair is caused by a hair that has been cut, and curves around to grow either into the skin or through the hair follicle wall. Acne is caused by a hair follicle becoming blocked with dead skin cells that have mixed with natural skin oils. In both cases, the blemish occurs because of skin irritation.


You can treat acne and ingrown hairs at home. For both conditions, the affected area should be cleaned twice per day using a gentle cleaner. The healing of ingrown hairs can be expedited by applying a warm compress to the bump three times per day. You may also have to lift the ingrown end of the hair out of the skin with a sterilized needle. Acne will usually respond to over-the-counter treatments containing salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide.


Both ingrown hairs and acne may get severe enough to require prescription treatments. If ingrown hairs occur each time you shave, you may need corticosteroids, retinoids and/or antibiotics. Acne that does not clear up after eight weeks of diligent home treatment may require topical prescription antibiotics or retinoids. Oral medications, including birth control pills, antibiotics or isotretinoin, may be needed for severe acne that leads to cysts.


Acne and ingrown hairs can cause scarring, including keloidal scarring, and a darkening of the surrounding skin known as hyperpigmentation. Because of these risks, prompt treatment is necessary. Infection is also possible with either condition. If any signs of infection are present such as extreme redness, foul smelling discharge, fever or hot skin, see your doctor as soon as possible.

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