Ingrown Hairs (Pseudofolliculitis)

What is an ingrown hair?

An ingrown hair is a hair that curls and grows back into the skin with its tip, causing inflammation. It's also known as pseudofolliculitis. Ingrown hairs are more common among people with very curly hair. Most ingrown hairs happen in the beard area on men and the bikini or groin area on women.

What causes an ingrown hair?

Ingrown hair is a common condition. It occurs when the far end of a hair grows back into the skin and causes an inflammatory reaction. Shaving, waxing, or plucking hairs can cause this condition.

What are the symptoms of an ingrown hair?

The most common symptom of an ingrown hair is redness and inflammation of the skin. This is followed by pus formation. If left untreated, or allowed to happen repeatedly, permanent scarring can occur. But each person may experience symptoms differently. The symptoms of an ingrown hair may seem like other skin conditions. Always talk with your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

How is an ingrown hair diagnosed?

Diagnosis of an ingrown hair can often be confirmed with a health history and a physical exam.

How is an ingrown hair treated?

An ingrown hair often heals on its own. But for chronic ingrown hairs, treatment may include:

  • Letting the hair grow longer before shaving it
  • Not shaving the area in the future. If you must trim the hair, use a clipper not a razor. Or try not to shave as closely.
  • Removing the hair permanently through electrolysis, laser, or liquid or cream (depilatory) methods.

Key points about an ingrown hair

  • An ingrown hair is a hair that curls and grows back into the skin with its tip, causing inflammation.
  • Most ingrown hairs happen in the beard area on men and the bikini or groin area on women.
  • Shaving, waxing, or plucking hairs can cause this condition.
  • An ingrown hair often heals on its own. But for chronic ingrown hairs, treatment may include letting the hair grow longer, not shaving, or removing the hair permanently.

Next steps

Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:

  • Know the reason for your visit and what you want to happen.
  • Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.
  • Bring someone with you to help you ask questions and remember what your provider tells you.
  • At the visit, write down the name of a new diagnosis, and any new medicines, treatments, or tests. Also write down any new instructions your provider gives you.
  • Know why a new medicine or treatment is prescribed, and how it will help you. Also know what the side effects are.
  • Ask if your condition can be treated in other ways.
  • Know why a test or procedure is recommended and what the results could mean.
  • Know what to expect if you do not take the medicine or have the test or procedure.
  • If you have a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that visit.
  • Know how you can contact your provider if you have questions.
Medical Reviewer: Michael Lehrer MD
Medical Reviewer: Rita Sather RN
Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
© 2000-2021 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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