Avoid ingrown hairs: 8 tips

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If you’re going to shave, it’s best to do it really smoothly, so that no stubble can be felt and preferably no shadow remains visible. Unfortunately, the supposedly beauty-promoting measure can also backfire. Not infrequently, painful, bright-red nodules that make you look like you’re in the middle of puberty again are the result.

However, the pustules are not pimples but ingrown hairs. And you’re not alone with this skin problem. “Especially among men who have to shave themselves slick every day for their jobs, ingrown hairs are extremely common,” says Dr. Bruce A. Brod, dermatologist and professor of dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania.

“Sometimes dermatologists even have to provide certifications so men have an excuse for employers to stop shaving daily.” To make sure shaving doesn’t stress you and your skin out too, here’s what causes ingrown hairs, how to prevent razor zits, and how to get rid of those nasty infections. But before we start: Do you actually shave dry or wet? Which shaving method suits your skin type, you can read here.

How does it come to ingrown beard hair?

When you shave, the hair that grows back has a wider edge due to the cut. As a result, it can no longer penetrate as easily through the channel provided for it in the skin and in some cases gets stuck. As a result, “Because the hair continues to grow anyway, it makes a U-turn – growing backward into the skin,” says Dr. Brod.

The expert goes on to explain, “Just like a splinter, the body now sees the hair as an intruder and sends more white blood cells to the affected area.”This causes a pimple-like inflammation that itches and hurts. And while we’re on the subject: These 4 nasty infections are at risk when shaving.

Another cause of ingrown beard hairs can be dead skin cells that clog the hair follicles. The hair in it can thus not penetrate to the outside and also gets stuck – with the same consequences.

I shave properly. Why do I still get ingrown hairs all the time?

Is your beard very curly? Then this could be the reason for ingrown hairs. Curly hairs do not grow straight out of the pore, but sideways under the skin. The razor can also be to blame, especially if it has more than 3 blades. “Shavers with multiple blades often clip the hair just below the skin’s surface. While this makes for a smoother and longer-lasting result, it also increases the chance that the hair will grow in,” the expert explains.

By the way: Ingrown hairs mostly occur under the chin and on the larynx. The reason: “Men tend to stretch the skin there extra when shaving to catch the hairs better, but this also cuts them off even shorter.”However, ingrown hairs can occur on any part of the body where you shave, including below the waistline. Here you can find more hair removal tips for men.

The hair is already ingrown: what can I do?

Put a warm compress on your skin to widen the pores. This can help to free the hair. Does not help? Special creams against ingrown hairs can help to straighten the hair and remove dead skin cells. However, these care products against ingrown hairs must be used over a longer period of time to achieve their effect.

Facial toners with salicylic acid can also help remove dead skin cells and soothe inflammation. As soon as the spot hurts a lot, a serious inflammation or even a boil is brewing, the word is: Finger away and quickly to the doctor!

If nothing helps at all: rather to the dermatologist than press yourself

“Pushing around ingrown hairs or single-handedly removing the hairs from the skin with tweezers not only hurts a lot, but can make matters worse,” warns Dr. Brod. “Because the skin barrier is damaged, bacteria can penetrate and cause a nasty inflammation – often leaving permanent scars.”

If scars or dark spots form from formerly ingrown hairs, care products with retinol can help to level the skin. The doctor can prescribe stronger and therefore more effective preparations. Tips against acne scars can be found here.

What can the dermatologist do about ingrown hairs?

“The dermatologist can make a small incision in the skin with a needle or scalpel to free the ingrown hairs,” explains the expert. In more severe cases, the doctor may prescribe cortisone creams or even oral antibiotics to reduce inflammation.

You don’t have to grow a beard right away: If possible, do not shave too often, preferably in the direction of growth and only with products that have been specially developed for sensitive skin. 

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