Ingrown Hair Treatment

What Is an Ingrown Hair?

An ingrown hair occurs when a hair penetrates the side of the hair follicle prior to emerging normally from the follicular orifice. This is more likely to occur with tightly curled, kinky hair for purely anatomical reasons. This tends to arise at sites like the face, neck, armpits, legs, and groin where for style considerations the hair is cut off below the level of the follicular orifice. The best option for treatment is the prevention of this phenomenon.

Prevention of ingrown hairs

One way to do this is to leave a little stubble present and not shave so closely. Some sufferers have found that the application of a topical cream containing eflornithine (Vaniqa) can produce a transient benefit by inhibiting hair growth. Permanent destruction of the hair root using laser light or by electrolysis will prevent hair growth entirely and permanently. If there are many ingrown hairs, the removal of the superficial horny layer of skin (superficial peeling), the stratum corneum, using salicylic-acid preparations or glycolic acid can be helpful in encouraging the hair to emerge normally. The surgical removal of individual hairs is occasionally appropriate but is not practical on a regular basis.

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Medically reviewed by Norman Levine, MD; American Board of Dermatology


Bridgeman-Shah, S. "The Medical and Surgical Therapy of Pseudofolliculitis Barbae." Dermatol Ther 17.2 (2004): 158-163.