- Many ingrown hairs go away on their own.
- But if you have a stubborn one, or if you get them a lot, there are some steps to take.
- A dermatologist can safely tease it out or prescribe medications to help.
- You shouldn’t try to yank them out at home.
Sometimes a hair on your body will go rouge, growing back into your skin instead of away from it. That wayward strand is known as an ingrown hair, and it might become inflamed, painful, and plain old ugly. In more extreme cases, it could keep burrowing deeper and deeper into your skin, sometimes for years.
There are some expert-approved ways to prevent ingrown hairs — but if you do get one, it’s good to know the right ways to get rid of it.
INSIDER spoke with dermatologist Dr. Marisa Garshick to learn all the ins and outs of eliminating ingrowns.
A lot of them don’t even need to be touched.
“Most of the minor ones will just kind of go away on their own, so they don’t necessarily require treatment,” she said. “And we really strongly encourage people to avoid picking or squeezing at them because often that can actually make issues worse.”
Find a dermatologist to pull out stubborn ingrown hairs.
If you have a stubborn ingrown hair that won’t resolve on their own, it’s time to call up a board-certified dermatologist for help, Garshick said.
“We’ll basically take a [tweezer] and gently release the hair but, it’s not something that we recommend doing at home,” she said. “[Dermatologists] use sterile tools to minimize the chance of infection and scarring.”
A dermatologist can also recommend helpful medicines.
This is especially true if your ingrown hairs manifest as little red bumps, Garshick explained.
“If you’re prone to getting more of the red bumps, sometimes using an antibacterial wash can be helpful,” she said. “There are [also] certain creams that promote skin turnover and prevent the pores from getting clogged, and that can be helpful for ingrown hairs. So those are things like retinoids or exfoliating agents like salicylic acid.”
Some really inflamed cases of ingrown hairs may require an antibiotic, either in topical form or pill form, she added. But the important takeaway is that a dermatologist can help you find ways to treat tough ingrown hairs safely.
Try not to pick at your own ingrown hairs.
If you want to do something at home, Garshick suggested applying a warm compress to the area for 10 minutes at a time a few times a day.
“It can soften [the hair] and sometimes promote the hair to be released,” she said.
If the urge to excavate a burrowed hair gets too strong, you could always watch videos of other people pulling out theirs. There are plenty of satisfying gems on YouTube and Instagram for your viewing pleasure.
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