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Avoiding Ingrown Hairs (Shaving)
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Avoiding Ingrown Hairs

Kevin C. Smith MD FACP FRCPC

Ingrown hairs can be an annoying problem for both men and women. For men, ingrown hairs are most common on the front of the neck and under the chin, while for women, the bikini area, the armpits, or the front of the neck are the areas of concern. For those with sensitive skin, this can be a persistent problem. Ingrown hairs are often unsightly, but it can become more than a cosmetic problem. Severe cases of ingrown hair can become infected and inflamed, causing considerable pain. It can also interfere with your job, depending on your occupation, for example by interfering with the seal required for proper use of a gas mask.

The most important thing to keep in mind in preventing ingrown hair is not to shave too closely. If you bleed after a shave, you have shaved too closely, or were shaving against the grain of the hair, which is definitely not recommended. Similarly, if your skin feels smooth to the touch after a shave, you are probably shaving too closely. Keep in mind that hair will often retract back into the skin after shaving. If the hair cannot find a proper exit as it grows, you will have ingrown hair. If you have curly hair, you should be extra cautious as the hairs can curl around back into the skin.

Proper shaving techniques are essential in reducing the chances of ingrown hair. The razor should be used to shave in the same direction that the grain of the hair is pointing towards. Shaving should be done after a shower or bath when the hair is weakened, and proper shaving should be used instead of soap. Finally, you should never press a razor or an electric shaver against your skin with any force. It should be light to the touch. Razors with fine wires wrapped around the blades can also prevent the blades from coming too close to the skin.

Alternative hair removal solutions such as waxing, plucking, or sugaring can also cause ingrown hairs. When hair has been pulled out, the new hair may not be able to find their way through the hair follicle, causing ingrown hairs. Laser hair removal, while more costly, can provide a long-term solution to ingrown hairs, if chronic ingrown hairs are frustrating you. With laser hair removal, the hair follicles are completely destroyed or minimized so that the hair becomes finer and lighter, minimizing the chance that it will ever develop into ingrown hair. Generally, laser treatment will require several sessions. Within six to twelve months, significant improvement can be seen, and old ingrown hairs will have faded away.

Laser hair removal is a simple, long-term solution to the problem of ingrown hairs, because laser hair removal destroys many hair follicles, and the few follicles which remain are miniaturized to the point where the hair is finer and lighter and much less likely to cause trouble. Usually within six to twelve months of starting a series of laser hair removal treatments the amount and coarseness of the hair has declined, the ingrown hairs are much less of a problem, and the old ingrowns have healed up and faded away.


hair removal,   ingrown hairs,   shaving,