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The Reason behind Recurring Pubic Hair Ingrowths and Effective Ways to Manage Them

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  • Post last modified:September 26, 2023

For those who prefer opting for being completely hairless downstairs or who appreciate the appearance of a flawlessly groomed landing strip, ingrown pubic hairs appear to be an inevitable part of life. However, you may consider a few cherry-red, itchy bumps here and there as a fair trade-off for a bikini line without any fuzz and the ability to feel utmost confidence.

But are ingrown pubic hairs truly unavoidable? In this article, experts dissect the nature of ingrowns and provide advice on how to eliminate them. Additionally, you will discover uncomplicated measures to prevent their reappearance.

What Is a Ingrown Pubic Hair?

Typically, each individual hair would grow upright from the follicle and protrude through the skin’s surface. However, when the hair curls before reaching the surface, it can become trapped beneath the skin, resulting in inflammation, pain, itching, and solid bumps. According to Kameelah Phillips, M.D., an ob-gyn and the founder of Calla Women’s Health in New York City, sometimes people may observe a small pustule, resembling a pimple, which indicates the presence of inflammation associated with the ingrown hair.

These rebellious hairs and their less-than-desirable symptoms are commonly found on the head, chin, and pubic area, with the mons and labia being the most frequently affected regions, according to Dr. Phillips.

The Primary Causes of Ingrown Pubic Hairs

The primary culprits behind the occurrence of ingrown pubic hairs are hair grooming techniques that cause the hair to tear, such as shaving and waxing. Additionally, people with curly hair may occasionally develop ingrown pubic hairs randomly, she explains.

To make matters worse, the hairs in the pubic region tend to be thicker and curlier than those on other parts of the body. Consequently, when you shave the pubic area with a manual razor, you are cutting through rough hair strands that are already prone to curling back and causing the formation of ingrown pubic hairs. Furthermore, if you shave against the direction of hair growth, you often end up unevenly cutting the hair shaft, which further promotes hair curling during growth and increases the risk of developing an ingrown hair. The same principle applies to waxing: by removing the hair in the opposite direction of its natural growth, you create the ideal conditions for the development of ingrown pubic hairs.

The frequency of shaving also plays a role in the likelihood of developing ingrown pubic hairs. If you shave the area as soon as you feel the slightest prickling of new hair, you may end up removing multiple layers of skin. This is why you may leave the shower with razor burn, which refers to irritated red spots that burn or itch, Dr. Phillips explains.

To me, razor irritation and encased hairs are connected,” confides Dr. Phillips. “Razor irritation is the promptly occurring response of the skin to shaving [when your hair is still abbreviated], and at the follicle level, you encounter an encased hair.” In simple terms, razor irritation is the immediate manifestation of shaving your scarcely noticeable hair, and as the hair endeavors to emerge in the subsequent few days, you may observe an ingrown pubic hair in that exact area.

Ingrown hairs in the pubic area can take varying amounts of time to heal, ranging from a few days to several weeks, depending on the level of inflammation and the number of affected hair follicles. Additionally, the pustules may disappear relatively quickly, but the inflammation beneath the skin, around the hair follicle, can persist as a firm lump for a significant period of time.

Tips for Preventing Ingrown Pubic Hairs

Preventing the development of ingrown pubic hairs is much simpler than attempting to remove them, according to Dr. Phillips. To achieve this, follow these three recommendations.

Allow your pubic hair to grow between hair removal sessions.

That’s why she suggests allowing some hair to grow in between hair removal sessions, rather than striving for a consistently smooth mons and labia. “When you allow the hair to break through the skin, it reduces the chances of it growing back into the skin and causing an ingrown hair,” she explains. “Once again, ingrown hairs occur when the hair is cut off at the skin level and the growth process is disrupted, causing it to grow back into the skin. Therefore, if you let your hair grow out even just a few millimeters, it will protrude above the skin’s surface and can grow normally.” This advice applies to both shaving and waxing, as excessive waxing can irritate the hair follicles and lead to ingrown hairs, she cautions.

Change your grooming tool.

If you’re comfortable with having a bit of hair, another effective method for preventing ingrown pubic hairs is to abandon manual razors. Instead, Dr. Phillips recommends using a bikini trimmer or an electric shaver specifically designed for the vulva, in order to manage hair growth and maintain a short groomed style. “It keeps the hair very short, without piercing the skin, thereby minimizing ingrown hairs. Furthermore, it should only be used on the vulvar region,” she advises. “I strongly advise against shaving with a razor.”

Limit the use of your razor to your pubic hair.

However, if you absolutely insist on using a disposable, affordable razor, Dr. Phillips insists that you must always use a brand-new blade each time and solely on your vulva. When a razor has been used on the armpits or legs and then used to remove hair in the pubic area, the blade becomes dull, which can lead to a jagged edge on the hair shaft, causing it to grow back into the skin and result in an ingrown hair. Additionally, you may introduce bacteria from other body parts to your vulva. “While there isn’t a significant harm in doing so, if you want to minimize the risk of ingrown hairs, it’s best to maintain the highest level of hygiene possible and use a razor solely for your vulvar region,” advises Dr. Phillips.

Steps to Eliminate Ingrown Pubic Hair

If you took all the precautions and still find yourself with furious, irritated pubic hair, don’t worry. Here’s your strategy on how to eliminate an ingrown pubic hair.

Leave the ingrown pubic hair alone.

First and foremost, refrain from interfering with it using sharp tweezers or drenching it in rubbing alcohol. In most cases, ingrown pubic hairs will disappear on their own if you halt shaving, waxing, or plucking and allow the hair to naturally grow out of the skin, as advised by Dr. Phillips. If you lack the patience to wait for the ingrown hair to resolve itself, you might be tempted to utilize a needle, tweezers, or another sharp tool to puncture the skin and lift out the hair. However, this home remedy could have negative consequences, increasing the risk of infection and exacerbating inflammation.

Apply compresses and gently exfoliate.

You can also administer a warm compress to the affected area or gently exfoliate it with a washcloth to soften the superficial layer of skin, facilitating the emergence of the ingrown pubic hair. According to Dr. Phillips, when individuals experience issues in their vulvar region, they sometimes resort to overly aggressive home treatments. Therefore, it is advisable to use a washcloth rather than a pumice stone or harsh loofah. If it causes discomfort, it should be avoided.

To alleviate the area, applying a cold compress or utilizing A D Ointment or a mild, alcohol-free, dye-free, and fragrance-free aloe vera gel can sometimes be beneficial, according to Dr. Phillips. However, if the skin is open, it is usually recommended to refrain from applying anything. The use of certain astringents on an ingrown hair can further irritate and harm the skin, so it is best to allow the body to heal naturally.

Book an appointment with your doctor.

If none of these methods for eliminating an ingrown pubic hair prove effective — if it does not resolve within a few days and the bump becomes larger and more painful — it is advisable to schedule an appointment with your doctor. According to Dr. Phillips, this is done to ensure that we are indeed dealing with an ingrown hair and not another type of infection. Occasionally, ingrown hairs can lead to superficial skin infections and may require the use of antibiotics.

Also, remember that ingrown pubic hairs occur in a sensitive and intimate area, rather than on a resilient part of the body. Therefore, the care you provide for this skin should reflect its delicacy. As stated by Dr. Phillips, individuals should not be as aggressive with their vulvar skin as they are with the skin on their arm, leg, or elbow. It is recommended to maintain some hair and minimize grooming procedures in order to reduce associated complications.

I additionally urge individuals to consider, ‘Why am I engaging in this? Is this indispensable for me to experience ease? Am I participating in this on behalf of another person?’ and simply to honor the epidermis between your legs because it is unique.”

If you still genuinely desire it eliminated, that’s acceptable; it’s your physique and you have the freedom to behave as you wish with your pubic hair. Just adhere to the advice provided above so, with any luck, you won’t have to confront the issue of an ingrown pubic hair once more.

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