If you shave, wax, or tweeze your hair as part of your beauty or self-care routine, you have likely dealt with ingrown hairs. People with curly hair or even more likely to struggle with ingrown hairs or razor bumps. Just like the hair on your head, the hair on your legs, face, and pubic area is curly. After you shave that hair, it’s likely to curl in on itself as it grows back.
Is it Ingrown Hair or a Cyst?
Typically, ingrown hairs develop on parts of the body where you shave or wax—namely, your legs and armpits. You might mistake an ingrown hair for a pimple, but you won’t usually find pimples on your legs or armpits. Your head, face, neck, and pubic region are also likely to produce ingrown hairs. Ingrown hairs are surrounded by sacs that are filled with fluid. They occur when hair starts to grow inwards towards the skin instead of outwards. You may not always be able to see the hair poking through the cyst, which can be red, white, or yellow and painful to touch.
Razor bumps are a type of ingrown hair and a cyst, but not all cysts are ingrown hairs. It’s important to classify your cyst to treat it properly. You can identify a cyst’s type by carefully monitoring its location and any changes in size or symptoms. It can be difficult to categorize your cyst because there are so many different types. If your cyst is especially painful or inflamed, you should seek medical attention as this can be a sign of infection. Even benign, harmless razor bumps have the potential to become infected.
Common Types of Cysts
Razor bumps or ingrown hairs are just one type of cyst visible on your skin. Other cysts include cystic acne, which may be found on your face, back, or chest area. This is a severe condition in which your skin’s pores become blocked. Baker’s cysts or popliteal cysts tend to develop in the knee area due to arthritis or a cartilage tear, so if you find bumps on or around your knee area and also suffer from joint pain, a baker’s cyst could be the cause.
If you’re finding bumps or cysts in your vaginal area, razor bumps may not necessarily be to blame. Bartholin’s cysts can be caused by a blocked gland in the vagina and often require surgery to remove.
Epidermoid cysts can be found on the face, scalp, or back. These cysts are not painful like ingrown hairs and don’t require immediate treatment.
Pilar cysts form from hair follicles on your head and are filled with fluid. These are not the same as ingrown hairs.
Not all cysts require immediate medical attention, but if you notice any cyst on your body, you should never pop it or try to remove it yourself (as tempting as it may be). This can lead to infection.
What Causes Ingrown Hairs?
If you have curly hair and regularly shave or wax, you’re more likely to develop ingrown hairs. Hair can grow back incorrectly when you shave, moving sideways or downwards into your skin. Dull razors can also cause ingrown hairs as they may not adequately remove the hair, causing it to grow in the wrong direction.
Ingrown hairs can also be caused by something as simple as friction. If you wear clothing or underwear that’s too tight, the resulting friction can irritate the skin in your pubic area, causing new hairs to bend in the wrong direction.
Fortunately, treating and preventing razor burn and razor bumps is fairly straightforward as long as you invest in the right products.
Before you begin shaving in your pubic area, clean the area with warm water, a soft cloth, and a soap designed for sensitive skin. Gently exfoliating the area can also help prevent ingrown hairs and infections caused by clogged hair follicles.
Using the right razor is also essential to a smooth, painless shave and preventing ingrown hairs. When you use a dull razor from the drug store, you will need to apply excess pressure and friction to the pubic area.
After you shave, you will want to make sure to moisturize the pubic area with a lotion that’s free of any perfumes or dyes. A gentle moisturizer for sensitive skin is best. Also, ensure that you never put moisturizer or anything inside your vagina. This can cause urinary tract infections and other serious issues.
If you continue to notice annoying ingrown hairs popping up, you might want to schedule an appointment with your dermatologist. They can prescribe special ointments and medications to provide relief.
While razor burn and ingrown hairs aren’t life-endangering health concerns, they can lead to painful infections when not treated properly. Moreover, they’re annoying, itchy, and distracting. Ultimately, they prevent you from being your best self. Using the right razor and gently washing the affected areas with soap can help you treat ingrown hairs—and avoid more in the future.