Typically, hair grows up and out of the hair follicle. Sometimes, though, the hair curls into the follicle, which causes it to grow under the skin. This downward growth can irritate the skin and cause inflammation that leads to the formation of red and painful blisters called pseudofolliculitis barbae.
Although anyone can develop ingrown hairs, they are more common in people who remove their hair, especially those who shave it.
In some people, ingrown hairs become so infected that they cause intense pain and even scarring. Sometimes, bacteria from other areas of the body get into ingrown hairs, causing painful infections that can cause fever and other signs of illness.
A person can usually prevent ingrown hairs by not removing body hair. Alternatively, the following hair removal practices may help reduce the risk of ingrown hairs:
- exfoliating before hair removal
- pulling the skin taut and shaving only in one direction
- using a clean, sharp razor
Over-the-counter lotions may also reduce shaving-related irritation.
For more severe cases, a doctor may recommend retinoid cream to help the rash clear faster and steroids to relieve inflammation. When ingrown hairs become severely infected, a person might need oral antibiotics or an antibiotic cream.
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