At first glance, the pimples on your face may look like acne blemishes. Dig a little deeper and you may notice tiny hairs in the center of the bumps. These are ingrown hairs, otherwise known as pseudofolliculitis barbae, and generally pop up after shaving 1. An ingrown pimple appears when a curved hair grows backward into the skin after it is shaved. The result is a raised pimple-like bump that looks unsightly and can cause itching and skin irritation. For relief, find ways to release the trapped hairs and heal the skin left behind.
Your Hairy Heritage
Your genetic disposition may be determining your propensity to suffer ingrown pimples. The condition is common in as many as 60 percent of African- American men who shave a beard, according to American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. Because curly hair bends as it grows, it can more readily curl back into the hair follicles and get trapped. While there are steps you can take to help reduce the risk of ingrown pimples, sometimes the texture of your hair makes this condition tough to avoid completely.
- Your genetic disposition may be determining your propensity to suffer ingrown pimples.
- While there are steps you can take to help reduce the risk of ingrown pimples, sometimes the texture of your hair makes this condition tough to avoid completely.
Extracting With Confidence
Popping Ingrown Hairs
Gently scrub your face in small circles with an exfoliating cleanser. This helps to remove dead skin cells, and also cleans the area so that dirt and bacteria from your face doesn't seep into the ingrown hair when it's open. Rinse your face with warm water and pat dry with a towel. Sterilize your tweezers by pouring rubbing alcohol over the top, then gently poke the bump with your tweezers. Slip the tweezers under the skin and locate the hair. Grab onto the hair and pluck it in the direction of the hair growth. Follow up with a dab of alcohol on a cotton pad.
- Gently scrub your face in small circles with an exfoliating cleanser.
Reducing the Risk
There are things you can do to reduce your risk of getting ingrown pimples. Wash daily with a gentle cleanser where ingrown hair proves to be a problem. If the area is clean, the risk of infection is less. Men who are susceptible to ingrown hairs on the beard should shave every other day. Also, take a hot shower before shaving to allow steam to penetrate the skin, which helps loosen pores and soften the hair follicles. In addition, always shave in the direction of hair growth.
- There are things you can do to reduce your risk of getting ingrown pimples.
- Wash daily with a gentle cleanser where ingrown hair proves to be a problem.
Rendering the Remedies
How to Treat an Ingrown Pimple
If you do nothing to ease an ingrown pimple, the hair will eventually grow and the ingrown hair will dislodge itself. However, most people want to help this process along because they find pimples of any sort unsightly. Spread a thin layer of hydrocortisone cream onto the area twice a day for a week. Another option is to saturate a cotton pad with rubbing alcohol and applying it to the infected area. The alcohol cools the irritated skin and helps prevent more bacteria from getting inside in case you open the pore from scratching.
- If you do nothing to ease an ingrown pimple, the hair will eventually grow and the ingrown hair will dislodge itself.
- However, most people want to help this process along because they find pimples of any sort unsightly.
If your ingrown pimples do not resolve with at-home treatment, visit a board-certified dermatologist who can advise you on your options. Laser hair removal treatments and prescription medications, such as retinoids, antibiotics and steroids, can greatly help treat pseudofolliculitis barbae 1. In addition, both men and women who suffer greatly from constant ingrown hairs can benefit from electrolysis, a procedure that permanently kills the hair follicles over time.
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- The Merck Manual: Pseudofolliculitis Barbae
- Elle: Ingrowns
- MedlinePlus. Acne.
- Cleveland Clinic. Ingrown hair. Updated February 28, 2018.
- Merck Manuals. Ingrown beard hairs. Updated October 2019.
- Cleveland Clinic. Ingrown hair: Management and treatment. Updated February 28, 2018.
- Ogunbiyi A. Pseudofolliculitis barbae; current treatment options. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2019;12:241-247. doi:10.2147/CCID.S149250
- MedlinePlus. Folliculitis. Updated October 8, 2018.
- Zaenglein AL, Pathy AL, Schlosser BJ, Alikhan A, Baldwin HE, et. al. Guidelines of care for the management of acne vulgaris. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2016; 74(5): 945-73. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2015.12.037
Based in Los Angeles, Lisa Finn has been writing professionally for 20 years. Her print and online articles appear in magazines and websites such as "Spa Magazine," "L.A. Parent," "Business," the Famous Footwear blog and many others. She also ghostwrites for mompreneurs and business owners who appear regularly on shows such as Ricki Lake, HGTV, Carson Daly and The Today Show.