Ingrown hairs can be painful and a nuisance. They typically affect people with thick, curly hair and can become infected if left untreated. But, how should they be treated, and can they be prevented?
Preventing ingrown hairs can often be managed at home, though there are times when a visit to the doctor may be appropriate.
This article explores ways to treat and prevent ingrown hairs from reducing discomfort for people who experience them.
What are Ingrown Hairs?
An ingrown hair is hair that has curled back into the skin instead of growing out of the skin's surface. It is most common in people with thick, coarse, or curly hair types. Medically an ingrown hair is known as "pseudofolliculitis barbae."
An ingrown hair can occur anywhere on the body. Ingrown hairs commonly occur in areas where the skin is shaved or subject to a lot of friction, including:
- pubic area
Signs and symptoms of ingrown hair are:
- itching skin or irritation surrounding the hair
- razor burn
The site of the ingrown hair will form into a raised bump on the skin that may begin to look like a pimple. The spot will often turn reddish, become irritated and sensitive, and fill with pus.
What Causes Ingrown Hairs?
Anything that does not let the hair grow normally can cause ingrown hairs, and it is usually for one of the following reasons:
Improper hair removal
The most common cause of ingrown hairs is an improper shaving technique. Cutting hair very close to the skin creates a very sharp tip on the end of each of the strands.
Most of these hairs will grow back out without a problem. However, some hairs can curl back on themselves and grow into the skin. When this happens, the body responds to the hair as if it were an intruder, causing inflammation, the typical symptom of ingrown hair.
Shaving is not the only way ingrown hairs occur. Waxing and plucking hairs out also commonly cause ingrown hairs.
Plucked hair grows back through the follicle. As such, it may not make it to the skin's surface before turning and clogging the follicle.
It is also possible for hair follicles to become clogged by:
- Dead skin
- Dirt and debris.
When this happens, the hair in the follicle can become stuck or grow sideways into the skin, causing ingrown hair. In some cases, the hair can be seen growing under the skin's surface.
Friction caused by wearing tight clothing for extended periods can also cause ingrown hairs.
The friction caused by body movement throughout the day can also continuously rub hairs against the skin. This causes the hair to turn around and push back into the follicle.
Red Light Therapy & Ingrown hairs
Red light therapy penetrates through the skin, stimulating the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) within the mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cells). ATP is responsible for storing and transferring energy in the body’s cells. Thus, damaged or old cells are repaired when stimulated, and new cells are created. The body receives important nutrients for healing and rejuvenating by reducing oxidative stress and increasing circulation.
Red light therapy alleviates the inflammation produced by ingrown hairs by increasing blood flow to the damaged tissues, and it’s been found in numerous clinical trials to increase the body’s antioxidant defenses.
Dr. Michael Hamblin of Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital is one of the world’s leading photomedicine researchers. He’s studied light therapy at length and concluded that one of its most reproducible effects is
“an overall reduction in inflammation, which is particularly important for skin related disorders”.
Blue Light Therapy & Ingrown Hairs
Blue light, particularly in the wavelength range of 405–470 nm, has attracted increasing attention due to its intrinsic antimicrobial effect without the addition of exogenous photosensitizers. In addition, it is commonly accepted that blue light is much less detrimental to mammalian cells than ultraviolet irradiation, which is another light-based antimicrobial approach being investigated.
“Bacterial resistance to drugs poses a major healthcare problem,”
Says co-editor in chief Chukuka S. Enwemeka, Ph.D., dean of the College of Health Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Blue light helps to clean and kill bacteria around the ingrown hair. With this, the skin can recover faster and help the healing process.
Luckily, Kaiyan Medical produces devices for that can help you with all the conditions related to ingrown hairs. We’ve worked hard to provide solutions for both patients and healthcare practitioners, catering to various needs. Whether you’re looking to private label your own light therapy devices or for home use, contact our team, as we would love to help you through your light therapy journey.