What Causes Ingrown Hairs after Waxing or Shaving?


What causes ingrown hairs? What are the signs and symptoms? Does epilating or shaving and waxing cause ingrown hairs on legs, scalp, face, neck, thighs and armpits? Does nair cause ingrowing hair follicles? Here’s a list of what causes ingrown hairs with guides on what to do for the problem.

Grooming has many motivations behind it. But think of it this way – that it is going to be a big romantic day so you are all around yourself with fragrant scents, hot wax and all that you know only to end up with some bumps down under, around the armpits, legs and anywhere else your skin might have felt the wrath of waxing and razors, one of the causes. You can either use top-rated products such as Razor Burn Freedom and 1% Hydrocortisone Cream to treat the problem or work on how to prevent it.

Bumps that look strange on your skin? At a close examination, you realize that the bumps are neither pimples nor hives. Some people think those bumps are a sign of herpes. They are simply ingrown hair follicles. But what are they? What are the causes of ingrown hairs? What are their symptoms like? Is there treatment for ingrown hair? All these are some of the questions we are going to address in this introductory guide.

What is Ingrown Hair - Ingrown Hairs

Ingrown hairs are a condition where hair on the body curls back and grows sideways into the skin instead of sprouting out of it. Sometimes, ingrown hairs are accompanied by an infection, but this is not always. At times, you will see razor bumps occurring as a result of downturned follicles, and they will vary in size. See the pictures of ingrown hairs provided to see how they look like. Ingrown hairs or herpes? Definitely not herpes, but deep curved follicles of hair.

One fact worth knowing of the causes of ingrown hair is that they can appear anywhere and not just on areas where you shave such as the pubic region and beard. Sometimes, they will appear just about anywhere. The reasons for these symptoms will vary and that will depend on the kind of hair you have to many other factors.

What Causes Ingrown Hairs on Legs, Thighs, Face

Just about anyone can get this problem. However, Hispanics and African-Americans are highly prone to experience the problem. The causes of ingrown hairs in these people is highly attributed to the type of hair they have – mostly tightly curled hair that can easily curve downward and grow back into the skin when growing. That doesn’t mean that some people can never get ingrown hairs. No. We can all get them because the causes vary widely and are not just tied to your skin type.

Hair Structure

The direction of hair growth may play a big role in causing ingrown hair. One of the known causes of ingrown hairs is the structure of hair. Curled hair will produce curved hair follicles that are highly likely to re-enter the skin once the hair is cut. Sometimes, in people with curled hair, one doesn’t have to shave before the appearance of downturned hairs. A combination of other causes can also result in the condition.

What Causes Ingrown Hairs after Waxing or Shaving

The first point worth noting here is that for people who are prone to the condition, shaving too close to the skin is highly likely to cause ingrown hair. In a general sense however, the techniques you apply while shaving hair on legs, beard, underarms and even pubic area will determine if you will get ingrown hairs or not.

Causes of ingrown hairs related to shaving techniques include using razors with many blades, using old and dull razors, pulling your skin while shaving, and shaving against the direction of hair growth can all cause ingrown hair. It is also advised that to prevent curved follicles, people should reduce the number of times they shave or increase the intervals between shaves.


Genetics is no doubt beyond your control. Individuals with fine, straight hair are less likely to get the problem of ingrown hair. However, those with tightly curled hair, notably Hispanics and African-Americans are highly likely to develop them because they are predisposed by the type of hair they have.

Dry Skin Can Cause Ingrown Hairs

Have you been exfoliating your skin lately? No? Well, that could be one of the causes of ingrown hairs you are experiencing lately. Whenever you deprive your body of natural oils that keep your skin and hair soft, the hair becomes coarse and more likely to develop such hairs on your skin. As the skin becomes chapped, it accumulates more bacteria and dead skin cells around the hair follicle opening. This will contribute to the causes of ingrown follicles.

Blockage of Follicular Openings

Blockage of Follicular Openings

According to the Skin Center of Laguna Hills, people with poor personal hygiene are also likely to end up with ingrown hairs problem. These are caused by the accumulation of dirt on the skin that may block the openings of hair follicles. Failure to exfoliate your skin is likely to cause the formation of in-turned hairs because some hairs will find it difficult to penetrate and grow. This will force the hair follicles to grow sideways within the skin.

Some Sex Hormones

According to WebMD, some sex hormones predispose people to developing ingrown hair. Apparently, the presence of high levels of certain sex hormones will trigger excessive hair growth, which can contribute as one of the  ingrown hairs causes.

Tight Clothing May Cause Ingrown Follicles on Thighs

Surprisingly, tight clothing also contributes to the causes of ingrown hair. We all presume that aggressive hair removal methods such as waxing and close-to-the-skin shaving will lead to ingrown follicles. Too much friction on the skin areas where hairs grow is likely to prevent them from penetrating the skin. Tight clothing, as Medicinenet states, will worsen the situation of ingrown follicles.

Risk Factors and Symptoms of Ingrown Hair

The following are symptoms of ingrown hairs and how it manifests itself.

  • Itchiness and tenderness caused by a local body inflammatory reaction that will cause pinpoint pink or red bumps on the area affected.
  • Embedded hairs that are sometimes visible depending on the color of your skin.
  • An accompanying light-red halo that will indicate inflammation is one of the common symptoms of ingrown hair.
  • Small bumps with pus may be scattered around the ingrown hairs. These bumps may start a few days after hair removal or shaving.
  • Painful and acne-like eruptions after shaving may also be part of the symptoms of ingrown hair.
  • On the sides, you might also notice other symptoms of ingrown hairs like abscesses. These result from infection by skin bacteria like Pseudomonas.
  • Another of the common symptoms of ingrown hairs is hyperpigmentation or darkening of the skin around the area with ingrown follicles.
  • Pustules – blister like lesions that are filled with pus.

Types of Ingrown Hair

Ingrown Hair Illustration

You probably did not know that ingrown hairs can also be classified into different types. The following are the different types of ingrown hairs.

Dormant Ingrown Hairs

This type is usually found on the lower legs and hey lay parallel to the skin. What causes ingrown hairs that are dormant and how do you deal with them? Dormant ingrown hair follicles are too deep to remove, but they dissolve in time on their own. A physician can lance them out. One of the primary causes of ingrown hairs of this type is that the skin has keratinized at a faster rate blocking the follicles. Regular exfoliation of the skin will be able to get rid of dormant follicles.

Superficial Ingrown Follicles

Superficial ingrown hair lie superficially on the legs and is relatively easy to remove. They commonly occur on the lower legs. Superficial ingrown hairs occurs because of lack of exfoliation. The hair is not deeply embedded within the epidermis so it can be visible and can be released with ease.

J-Peg Ingrown Hair Follicles

J-peg - type of ingrown hair

What causes ingrown hairs j-pegs? As the hair follicles attempt to penetrate the accumulated dead skin, they turn and curl back down. They may end up growing horizontally within the skin and cause pimple-like swellings. The bumps resulting from this can cause a lot of discomfort until the hair released. When developing around the bikini region and the face, J-Peg ingrown hair strands may end up infected.

Pubic or Bikini Ingrown Hairs

Most often, bikini ingrown hair looks like pinkish red bumps or black dots if they are not infected yet. Those that may turn purple like will become cystic. Pus and blood may accumulate and cause a lot of discomfort until the hair is released. The causes of down-turned hairs of this type include lack of exfoliation and poor hydration or moisturizing of the newly exfoliated epidermis in the bikini area. Some of the ingrown hair treatments will help solve this problem of bikini ingrown hair.

Should You See a Doctor?

It is important to see a doctor when ingrown hair follicles become a chronic condition that is difficult to avoid.  A doctor will be able to help you with treatment. In addition, what causes ingrown hair in women may be underlying factors such as hormonal imbalances. Polycystic ovary syndrome is one of the problems that cause ingrown hairs. These can be treated to prevent excessive and unwanted hair growth, also called hirsutism.

There are no serious risk factors associated with ingrown hairs, but it is advised that individuals with curly hair, mostly African-Americans and Hispanics practice good shaving techniques, regular miniaturization and exfoliation of the skin to prevent ingrown hair. See more information on how to prevent ingrown hairs in the prevention section below.

Can You Prevent Ingrown Hair Follicles

How to Get Rid of Razor Bumps - Wash Before Shaving or Shave in the Shower

All of us are not immune from this problem. Therefore, we ought to learn different ways to prevent ingrown hairs. Various practices that we can do to prevent ingrown hair are simple and should be part of your routine. Here are quick simple tips on how to prevent ingrown hair.

  • Go for a pre-shave hot shower
  • Use the right shaving techniques
  • Scrub your skin often to exfoliate it
  • Always apply moisturizer to keep your skin soft and supple. This will prevent ingrown hair that results from dry skin.

How to Cure and Heal Ingrowing Hair

So what should you do once ingrown hair appears on the skin? There are different ways on how to cure ingrown hair. Other than learning how to remove ingrown hair, you can start by seeking different ways of ingrown hairs treatment. Ingrown hair can heal on its own, so you might not need to get any cure for that, but just in case you want to get rid of ingrown follicles fast, the following are simple ways of treating ingrown hair.

Chemical depilatories will help loosen the structure of your hair that result from blunt tips of the shaved hair at the follicle openings. Neet and Nair can be used every three or two days as treatment for ingrown hair rather than every other day to prevent irritation of the skin. Hydrocortisone is also used as a treatment for ingrown hair and may relieve the irritation that may be caused by other chemical depilatories.

Retin A creams such as Tend Skin Liquid for Men and Women are also a good ingrown hair treatment. These creams can also decrease the speed of keratin formation on the skin and help treat ingrown hair. Creams such as topical tretinoin will thin the epidermis and reduce the buildup of dead cells to avoid hair embedding into the follicles. To treat ingrown hair inflammation, topical corticosteroid creams may be used. Retin A creams should not be used during pregnancy.

Laser hair removal, electrolysis and prescribed fading creams may all be used as options for ingrown hairs treatment. Each of these methods have their own success rates in getting rid of the problem, though all of them may not be the choices of many people. Antibiotics may also be prescribed as ingrown hair infection treatments.

Natural Treatments for Ingrown Hair

  • Avoid shaving if you can – that’s the simplest of the home remedies of curved hair.
  • Use a sterile needle and alcohol wipe to release the ingrown hair. Tweezers may also come in handy as home remedies for ingrown hair.
  • Another simple home remedy is to avoid shaving too close to the skin.
  • Sugar is a natural exfoliation ingredient, so make it one of your home remedies for ingrown hair.

How to Pop an Ingrown Hair

How to remove ingrown hair is a simple step-by-step process. You will need the following: 1% hydrocortisone, a hot compress, a washcloth, toothpick, tweezers, topical antibiotic, a needle, an antibacterial soap, some rubbing alcohol. The process on how to remove ingrown hairs will require a lot of keen attention, especially when the hairs are deep. Follow these steps on how to remove ingrown hair in order to get rid of those irritating follicles under the bumps.

The way you care for ingrown hair will either cause them to become severe and develop crazy razor bumps and razor rash. Therefore, it is important that you find simple solutions to reduce inflammation and itchiness in order to avoid picking the ingrown hair, which can lead to really ugly marks and even scars. In addition, ensure that you learn proper techniques of waxing and shaving your hair in order to avoid some of the controllable causes of ingrown hair.