[By Tricia Wang]
With swimwear season just round the corner, there’s little time left to whip your body into its absolute best. One of the commonest beauty banes that stand in the way is no doubt ingrown hairs. An ingrown hair is a benign skin condition that happens when the sharp tip of the hair curls back or grows sideways into the skin of the hair follicle, appearing as a small tan bump under the skin. At times, a small pinpoint darkness of the underlying hair may be seen under these bumps. Besides the cosmetics implication, ingrown hairs can get exceedingly itchy or become a nidus of skin infection. Here are some quick facts about ingrown hairs and once you get them right, it will be easier for you to wiggle out of this “hairy” situation in double quick time, and be Instagram ready at your next beach holiday.
#1: Mars vs Venus
Ingrown hairs occur in post pubertal teens and adults and are more common amongst male. People with darker skin tones are worse affected possibly because their hair is often more coarse and curly. If you happened to fall into this category, you would’ve tackled this annoying condition at least once or should be keeping your eyes open so that you can take care of them in the proper way.
Ingrown hairs might be unsightly and can at times be uncomfortable, but they aren’t harmful in most cases. However, as comparable to acne, you certainly want to get rid of them because of their aesthetics repercussions, won’t you?
#2: Woes of shaving
Ingrown hairs tend to be more common in areas with coarse hairs, like the bikini area in women, and beard and neck in men. There is also a disproportionally high incidence of them in areas that are shaved so typically, they appear on legs, armpits and bikini lines of women who practised shaving to get rid of unwanted body hair. For hirsute men, they often appear on the jawline and neck— areas where they shaved their growing moustaches and beards.
One of the trial and tested ways to get round this is to avoid shaving too closely. Your best bet is to get a close shave but don’t press down your razor such that it scrapes against your skin. I know you are aiming for a smooth shave but if that’s going to lead to a bunch of ingrown hairs all the time, it won’t be a smooth shave anyway. It is therefore highly advisable for you to reconsider your shaving technique or explore other possible options of hair removal.
Because of the skin irritation, ingrown hairs can get extremely itchy. They may become cosmetically disfiguring and lead to scarring with skin discoloration known medically as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. They may lead to pustular skin infection that will require proper medical attention. Keloid scar formation though rare had been reported in more severe cases.
If an ingrown hair is bothering you or has become infected, you got to see a doctor who can make a small cut in your skin with a sterile needle or scalpel to release the trapped culprit. Besides oral medications, topical antibiotic preparations such as Dalacin-T and Sloane Inc. Clarifying Gel can help keep the inflammatory process under control and should be used at the first sight of possible ingrown hairs. Regular skin exfoliation and frequent moisturising are ways to keep your skin clean and supple and greatly reduce the occurrence of ingrown hairs.
#4: Zappity zap
Not removing hair is one foolproof way to avoid an ingrown hair. When this isn’t an option, you can use hair removal methods that lessen the risk of developing ingrown hairs. Shaving is by far the biggest culprit and therefore should be traded in with other modalities of hair removal.
A great long term investment that is by far the most effective and safest way of getting rid of unsightly body hair to avoid ingrown and with long lasting results of permanent hair reduction is by treating the target areas with IPL ( Intense Pulsed Light) or Laser therapy.
“There are different FDA approved laser technologies that can be used for hair removal in both lighter and darker skinned individuals,” explained Dr Jinly Wong, medical consultant from The Sloane Clinic. “The number of sessions you require for best results will depend on the density, thickness and color of your hair but on the average, 4 to 6 treatments done regularly at approximately 4 to 8 weeks’ intervals will give appreciable answers to your hairy woes.”