Ingrown hair

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]

Ingrown hair is a condition where the hair curls back or grows sideways into the skin. It may or may not be accompanied by an infection of the hair follicle (folliculitis) or "razor bumps" (Pseudofolliculitis barbae). While ingrown hair most commonly appears in areas where the skin is shaved (beard, legs, pubic region), it can appear anywhere.


Anything which causes the hair to be broken off short with a sharp tip can cause ingrown hair. Shaving is the leading cause, followed by tight clothing. The embedded hair causes a localized inflammation (sometimes painful) response in the skin with prostanoid involvement.


  • rash (reddened skin area)
  • itching skin
  • hair which remains in spite of shaving


  1. Manually removing ingrown hairs with special tweezers
  2. Shaving in a different direction
  3. Allowing the hair to grow in order to cause the hair to come out straighter
  4. Using special razors that leave the hair longer
  5. Exfoliating with facial scrubs, sponges, towels, or creams containing acids
  6. Treatment with Ibuprofen or other NSAIDs promotes resolution of stubborn cases
  7. Prophylaxis with twice daily topical application of diluted Glycolic acid
  8. Ensuring skin and razor are sterile before shaving

If the area is infected, see a dermatologist.

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