Dr Nada Elbuluk, assistant professor in the Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology at NYU Langone Medical Center, says that products containing certain exfoliating ingredients can help to treat and prevent ingrown hairs.
"Keeping skin moisturized and exfoliated not only makes it easier to shave, but it can help remove dead skin and hairs that may clog the hair follicles, as well as promote hair growth in the right direction," says Dr Elbuluk.
Ingrown hair, also known as ‘razor bumps’, are a common skin condition, particularly in people whose hair has the tendency to curl back or grow sideways in a hair follicle.
This results in tiny round bumps that can resemble acne, some of which have a visible hair trapped inside them, and can also be accompanied by pustules and skin discoloration. Furthermore, they can be painful and itchy as well as cosmetically disfiguring.
Dr Elbuluk also points out that various types of hair removal, such as waxing, shaving, plucking and threading, can lead to ingrown hairs, and can aggravate them too.
"One of the worst things to do when having ingrown hair is to continue to shave and remove hair in the affected region," Dr Elbuluk advises. "It is best to wait until razor bumps have resolved before going back to shaving or engaging in further hair removal at the site."
The best treatment for the worst case scenario is to see a dermatologist, says Elbuluk, as a do-it-yourself job of coaxing hair out of the bump at home by poking or tweezing, can potentially introduce new bacteria into the follicle and worsen the problem.
A dermatologist can also recommend a regimen of anti-bacterial washes and creams as well as topical retinoids that can help treat the area and prevent future ingrown hairs.
There is an at-home option available though, according to Dr Elbuluk, as over-the-counter products containing benzoyl peroxide, as well as exfoliating ingredients such as glycolic acid and salicylic acid, can also help in the treatment and prevention of ingrown hairs.