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Ingrowing hair

General characteristics

General characteristics

An ingrown hair (pseudofolliculitis barbae) is a hair that gets trapped under the skin and continues to grow, usually in a coiled fashion but sometimes in a line, just beneath the skin surface.

Ingrown hairs usually result from shaving and hair removal techniques when the new hair begins to grow but the growing tip does not make it through the follicle opening onto the skin. They occur in areas where the hairs are coarser and are regularly removed, such as around the beard area of the face and neck in men and around the armpits, legs and bikini. They seem to be more common in people with coarser textured or tightly curled hair.

They can be seen as little bumps that may start off slightly red then progress to a darker colour as the hair grows longer. Sometimes the bump can become inflamed, red and painful, indicating that infection has set in. They can also occur in groups and present as a sore, red skin rash initially.


Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

Many people report the cessation of ingrown hairs after taking good quality fish oils regularly.


Useful herbs

Useful herbs

Apply a homemade ointment made from olive oil, beeswax, plantain leaves, chickweed and lavender essential oil before hair removal.

Make a skin wash using tinctures of meadowsweet, willlow bark and echinacea (equal parts) with a few drops of golden seal tincture or powder. Dab over the skin after hair removal. Many commercial ingrown hair treatments contain salicylates (aspirin like compounds) and the first 2 herbs in this formula also contain these substances and work very well. The echinacea and goldenseal help prevent or heal any infection present.

Clean the skin with distilled witch hazel after hair removal, the astringency tightens the skin and makes ingrown hairs much easier to tweezer out and less likely to form.

If the hair grows inwardly and begins to show signs of infection, try a poultice made from plantain leaf and marshmallow root powdes and apply to the area. Thia mix will draw out the hair and any pus there may be.


Natural healing

Natural healing

Gentle exfoliation, using a natural loofah or similar, before hair removal and regular exfoliation every few days will lessen the likelihood of ingrown hairs recurring by removing dead skin cells from the skin surface. It also helps to liberate any ingrown hairs that may be present.
Always shave in the direction of hair growth as this encourages the cut hair tip to grow out straight. Shaving against the direction of the hair growth will make the hair tip very sharp and encourage the hair to grow in the wrong direction.
Soften the skin before hair removal with warm water rinses or by placing a warm wet cloth over the area for a few minutes.
Make sure razors are sharp and try not to shave too close. Often single bladed razors are kinder on the skin.
Bentonite or natural cosmetic clay as a mask over the ingrown hairs can encourage their easy removal and draw out any other toxins that may be present.

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