Ingrown hairs are a common dermatologic condition that occurrs when the hairs grow inwardly, also referred to as "razor bumps" or "pseudofolliculitis barbae". Regular shaving is the majour cause of this issue (1), that appears to be more common in peope with curly or wavy hair types. (2)
Ingrown hairs often form when the hair is cut or broken below the skin surface, or when a curved hair sharpened by shaving reenters the skin a short distance from the follicle. (3) They can also occur when hairs do not exit from the skin and continue growing inwardly, causing an inflammatory reaction (4) that can result inpapule or pustule or progress into abscesses and larger nodules (5) that, if not treated, can lead to permanent scarring.
1. Normal hair / 2-3-4. Different typologies of ingrown hairs
There are several tips that we can follow in order to prevent the formation of unwanted razor bumps and ingrown hair. Here is an example of a simple routine which could help reducing the occurrence of this dermatologic condition, particularly when caused by regular shaving:
Before shaving, wet your skin with warm water - for example by taking a warm shower. This will open the pores, soften the skin and allow a smoother, easier shave.
Before shaving - Prepare the skin for epilation by using a natural sugar scrub in order to remove dead skin cells and achieve a smooth skin. The razor will glide smoothly on the skin, preventing cuts and allowing a closer shave.
After shaving - Sometimes dead skin can clog up hair follicles, causing the hair to grow inwardly. When ingrown hairs appear, you can try a gentle scrub to exfoliate and help the hair to come out of the skin. Exfoliating regularly (once a week) will prevent follicles clog-ups.
Make sura to use a sharp, new blade and a specific razor when you´re shaving (disposable blades can dull quickly!), to prevent razor bumps an and uneven shave that might require several strokes. It is important to use as few strokes as possible, using a shaving cream to prevent irritation, and to rinse the razor after every stroke.
After shaving you can apply a warm cloth on the skin to prevent irritations. Avoid applying synthetic-based body lotions as they might cause redness and allergic reactions on a freshly shaves skin, and opt instead for natural, dermatoloically tested products that won´t cause irritations and leave your skin silky-smooth!
(1) Alexander, A. M.; Delph, W. I. (1974) "Pseudofolliculitis barbae in the military. A medical, administrative and social problem", Journal of the National Medical Association, 66. Jg., Nr. 6, p. 459
(2) Brown, J. L. (1983) "Pathogenesis and treatment of pseudofolliculitis barbae", Cutis, vol. 32, nr. 4, pp. 373-375
(3) Garcia, R. L.; White, J. W. (1978) "Pseudofolliculitis barbae in a woman", Archives of dermatology, vol. 114, nr. 12, pp. 1856-1856
(4) Moore, M. D. (31 Jul. 1990) "Shaving preparation for treatment and prevention of PFB (Ingrown Hairs)", U.S. Patent No. 4,944,939
(5) Bliss, W. E. (14 Oct. 1980) "Method for treating pseudofolliculitis barbae.", U.S. Patent No. 4,228,163