Ingrown hair is a shaved or tweezed hair that grows back into the skin. The ingrown hair causes redness and swelling (inflammation) and irritation of the skin. Ingrown hairs usually occur in the beard area in men and in armpits, legs and the pubic area in women. Symptoms of ingrown hair include small rounded bumps on the skin (papules), small pus-filled lesions, skin darkening, pain, itching, and embedded hairs. Ingrown hairs are common and usually go away on their own.
An ingrown hair occurs as a result of shaving and tweezing which causes the hair to become sharp, point down, and grow into the skin. Once the skin grows back into the skin, it causes inflammation. Risk factors include having tightly curled hair and race, as they are more common in African Americans. Your doctor will diagnose an ingrown hair by examining the affected area and discussing your hair removal habits. Most ingrown hairs go away on their own but you may wish to see a doctor if you have chronic ingrown hairs. Treatments include holding off on hair removal (shaving, tweezing or waxing), using a medication that removes dead skin cells from the surface (retinoids), using steroids to help control inflammation, or using antibiotic creams to prevent infection.