An ingrown hair is a hair that curls back on itself. While ingrown hairs more commonly occur in individuals with curly hair, almost everybody will develop one at some point in their life. If you shave regularly, you may have to deal with ingrown hairs more commonly than the average person. Got one now? Follow these instructions to treat the issue and keep it from coming back.
Use a sterile needle, tweezers or a rotable medical device for ingrown hairs to gently tease the hair out of the skin. Use the warm compress first––this should bring the hair to the surface––don’t dig for the hair if you can’t easily get at it. Don’t pluck the hair out completely if you can avoid doing so; just make sure that the ingrown end is out of the skin. It may take a little time to coax the hair out, so persevere and do not cut the skin.
Sometimes you’ll see a loop of the hair close to the surface of the skin. This means that the tip of the hair has begun growing down into the skin. If you get a needle in the loop and tug lightly, the end will often come loose.
If you choose to use tweezers, remember that tweezers can be bought either pointy or flat-tipped. A pointy-tipped pair may cause less damage to the skin around the hair if used carefully. Another choice might be to use a rotable medical device for ingrown hairs which does not damage the follicle or the surrounding skin.
Keeping the skin clear of ingrown hairs
Wash the area around the (formerly) ingrown hair with warm water and moisturizing soap. Apply an antiseptic to provide extra protection against infection. Avoid wearing tight clothing on that area, and exfoliate regularly to prevent new ingrown hairs. You may wish to apply a daily topical solution to prevent any further ingrown hairs from developing.
Sometimes, the ingrown hairs may not budge at all because they may be placed in very deep. If these methods do not work, talk to your doctor or dermatologist to get a prescription medication.
Apply a warm, moist compress to the area for a few minutes. This will soften the skin.
Just wet a washcloth with hot water, wring it out, and press it against the ingrown hair. When the washcloth cools down, run it under hot water again.
If you can see the ingrown hair embedded in the skin, this treatment will soften the hair and bring it closer to the surface. If you can’t initially see the hair, leave the warm compress on until it rises to the skin’s surface.
If you apply the compress for ten minutes, and you still can’t see any sign of hair, you’re not going to be able to remove it yourself, or it might be something else altogether. And while you’re fretting over your skin, this might be a good time to Check for Skin Cancer.
Remove the membrane from inside an eggshell.
Cover the problem area with the membrane.
Let it dry and shrink around the area.
Pull it off once dry. The ingrown hair should come out with it.
Apply a dab of acne medication. Ingrown hairs are pretty similar to pimples, especially when the ingrown hair is accompanied by pus. Apply benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid several times a day for a few days. This, combined with daily exfoliation, is often enough to remove the ingrown hair, since swelling will be reduced, giving the hair more room to grow out (rather than in). If you don’t have acne medication on hand, you can try using the aspirin method or adding a dab of toothpaste.
Warm milk and bread compress
Warm up a small amount of milk. Don’t make it too hot.
Dip a piece of bread into the milk.
Place the bread on an ingrown hair/or boil. It may feel too hot, but it won’t be (unless you made the milk too hot).
Leave the dipped bread on. Remove when it feels cool; this will be about 2 minutes.
Repeat the dip and hold during about 10 minutes.
Check for an opening of the pore. Use a needle to pull up the loop of hair and free it.
If you cannot see the opening, repeat the dip and hold. If it fails to open, see your health professional for advice.
Exfoliate the area. Twice a day, scrub the ingrown hair gently. This will help to remove any dead skin cells, dirt, and oils that might be trapping the ingrown hair. It may also physically nudge the tip of the hair out of your skin. Try to hit the ingrown hair from a variety of directions. Use an exfoliating glove or ingrown hair brush, and try one of the following exfoliating techniques:
Exfoliate your legs with salt
Exfoliate your skin with olive oil and sugar
Be gentle. You’ll need to exfoliate enough to achieve this effect, but not so much that the area surrounding the ingrown hair starts to bleed.
When in doubt, exfoliate more gently but for a longer period.
Note! It’s very difficult to remove an ingrown hair from under a scab. In this case, it might be best to use a different method, or consult your doctor.
It is rarely a good idea to pop pimples, since doing so can cause scars or worsen your breakout. If you must pop a pimple, the best way to prevent damage is to use a needle. Alternatively, applying a wet rag can gently remove a whitehead. Using your hands to squeeze the pimple is not recommended, but can be done if the other methods seem too labor-intensive.
Determining Whether a Pimple Can Be Popped
Pop whitehead pimples. Whitehead pimples have usually been around for a few days, and they have a white tip where pus has collected underneath the skin. These pimples are easy to pop, and when treated with care they can be safely removed without spreading the infection or causing scarring.
Don’t pop new pimples. Pimples that have just appeared in the past day or two aren’t ready to pop yet. Wait until the whitehead appears at the tip of the blemish.
Don’t pop pimples that are big, red, or sore. This could worsen your pimple by sending bacteria deeper into your skin. Popping a pimple this big will almost definitely lead to a scar. Only a pimple with white pus is ready to pop.
Visit a dermatologist. Dermatologists can determine the best way to treat your acne. They can prescribe creams that will eliminate your pimples. There are also several procedures they can perform that can treat severe breakouts.
The most commonly prescribed dermatologist treatment is a topical cream, rubbed on the pimples, that will remove oil from the skin and kill acne-causing bacteria.
For red, swollen pimples an oral antibiotic, hormonal birth control, or isotretinoin might be prescribed.
Large acne cysts can be removed by dermatologists through drainage and extraction, in which they remove the cyst and drain out the pus.
Your dermatologist can safely lance the pimple with a pin. This is a technique that should only be done by professionals.
Laser therapies and chemical peels can treat the underlying causes of acne, although they will not remove current cysts.
Limit pimples by washing regularly. Pimples are caused by sweat sitting on your face. Anytime you sweat, wash your face gently with lukewarm water to remove dirt and grime. Do not be harsh or scrub, just wash off sweat.
Scrubbing roughly can worsen acne.
Do not use rough cleaners, like astringents, toners, or exfoliants.
Prepping Your Hands and the Pimple
Wash your hands. This will prevent bacteria from spreading to your face. Wash thoroughly, especially underneath the nails, and use plenty of soap and warm water. You’ll want to avoid touching the pimple with your finger nails, but just in case you do, having them clean will reduce the likelihood of irritation and infection.
Consider using a fingernail brush to get dirt out from under your fingernails.
Cover your hands. Put on disposable gloves just before you’re ready to pop the pimple. Not only will this put a barrier between any remaining bacteria on your fingers (and in your fingernails) and your skin, but it will also prevent the sharp edges of your nails from impacting the pimple.
If you don’t have disposable gloves, you can cover your fingers with clean tissues.
Clean the skin surrounding the pimple with a face cleanser or rubbing alcohol. Apply cleanser to a cotton ball and spread it. When you pop the pimple, you’ll be opening the skin, creating a way for bacteria to enter. The pimple will heal faster if you don’t give bacteria a chance to settle in and create a new or worse infection.
Don’t scrub the area too hard, or you’ll irritate it further. Gently cleanse the area, rinse it with warm water, and pat it dry with a towel.
Popping a Pimple with a Pin
Sterilize a pin with fire. Use a match or lighter to heat up and sterilize the pin. Expose every bit of the pin to fire for several seconds to kill off any bacteria.
Allow the pin to cool. Give the pin at least a minute to cool down. It should not be painfully hot when you use it to pop your pimple.
Sterilize everything with rubbing alcohol. Apply rubbing alcohol to the pin, to your hands, and to the zit. Be sure that everything involved in the procedure is sanitized with rubbing alcohol.
Hold the pin parallel to your face. You do not want to point the pin toward your face. Instead, you should hold it along your face, so that when you poke your pimple it won’t penetrate anything but the very tip of the pimple.
Pierce the white tip of the zit. Do not touch anything but the white part of the zit. Penetrating the red part of the pimple will cause scarring. Instead, run the pin through the very tip of the pimple, so that it goes through one end and out the other.