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How to tame ingrown hair

If there’s one thing that detracts from the multifarious pleasures of wet shaving it’s the curse of ingrown hairs. This annoying condition presents itself as raised red spots (razor bumps) which can sometimes become infected and turn into painful, unsightly pus filled sores. Sorry if you’re just eating breakfast as you read this.

Regular shavers may from time to time suffer from this itchy and embarrassing affliction, so, looking out for your interests, we donned our white coats and went in search of solutions.
Anyone can get ingrown hairs, though they tend to be more of a problem in people with coarse or curly hair.

Short and curly

Why do we get them? Well, reliable sources explain that they are caused by hairs that grow out of the skin, curl back and re-enter. Some hairs can curl back into the hair follicles – the small cavities in the skin that hairs grow out of – without even leaving the skin.
Ingrown hairs can also occur when the hair follicle becomes clogged with dead skin cells. The hair inside it is forced to grow sideways. This is much more likely to happen if the hair is already curly or coarse and it’s recently been shaved.
Shaving sharpens hair to a point, making it easier to pierce the skin when it curls back. Which is why the problem occurs mainly in those areas we shave.

Tackling the problem

Having identified the enemy, what can we do about it?

  • Try doing nothing – if you leave ingrown hairs for a while they may disappear without you having to do anything.
  • Men who are prone to getting ingrown hairs around their face may find it best to grow out their beard. Longer hairs aren’t as sharp at the ends, so are less likely to become ingrown.
  • Don’t pick or scratch – bacteria can enter and you are risking infection which can lead to scarring.
  • Don’t squeeze them for the same reason.
  • Try using a sterile needle or tweezers to gently tease out any ingrown hair which is near the surface but never dig too deeply.
  • If there are lots of pus-filled spots, you may have folliculitis – mild cases of folliculitis often clear up without treatment, so try not shaving for a few days and see if it gets better.
  • If the problem won’t go away – see your GP.

Top tips

Naturally, most of us will want to continue wet shaving and avoid the annoyance of ingrown hair. If you don’t want to stop shaving, we’ve gleaned these useful tips for you. OK, we’re not doctors, but this is pukka advice:

  • Wet your skin with warm water and use a gel
  • Shave in the direction the hairs are growing
  • Use as few strokes of the razor as possible
  • Rinse the razor after every stroke
  • Try not to shave too closely – leave a bit of stubble if you can, as bacteria can enter the tiny openings of freshly shaved skin.

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Wet Shaving Tips

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