If you're like me, the sight of red hair makes you super excited. That red bump means it's time to take out the tweezers and get to work! However, you must be careful, because there is a possibility that you may be doing more harm than good when you immerse yourself in a large and juicy internal follicle. I spoke with SKINFIVE board-certified dermatologist and founder of SKINFIVE, Dr. Ava Shamban about all things related to ingrown hairs to find out what they are, how to get rid of them and when to give up and go to a professional so that drive that.
What is a red hair and why do they hurt?
An internal hair is produced when a hair tries to pass the edge of the skin, but instead it twists on itself and re-enters the skin. "The skin then identifies the hair as a foreign body and reacts in the same way as it would with something like a splinter," says Dr. Shamban. "Then, that's when the red and slightly soft protuberance occurs there because that's the inflammation and the effort of the skin to expel it in the same way a splinter would."
That said, you can also get an internal hair on your legs, depending on the way you shave. "If you shave against the grain, sometimes you're pushing the hair back on the skin and it can not come out," says Dr. Shamban. She recommends shaving with the grain (starting from the top and moving down), especially if you have more curly hair. You may not get too close to shaving, but it will help avoid incarnations.
For men, ingrown hairs usually appear on the back of the neck and in the area of the beard, especially those with curly hair. Ingrowns can also be the result of pressure on the hair follicles, so the collars of men's shirts often cause them in the beard / neck area.
How do I get rid of red hair?
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Pimple popping lovers, rejoice, because you can fully extract a red hair if it is not too big or tender, says Dr. Shamban. She suggests softening the skin a bit before starting, either with a warm washcloth or during the night with a patch for pimples. This will help to facilitate the extraction and avoid having to dig too much into the skin to get the hair, which could, in turn, cause an infection.
Then, wash your hands (also to avoid infection) and simply use a tweezer to pull the hair. Once you have successfully removed hair, apply an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream such as Neosporin (you guessed it … to avoid infection).
When should you go to the doctor?
If the incarnated hair is especially painful, or if the resulting lump is larger than a pencil eraser, Dr. Shamban suggests going to the doctor and asking him to take care of it. "Basically, what they're going to do is put in a little injection of cortisone and try to lift the hair," he says. It's a fairly easy procedure, but if you're worried about doing more harm than good by pulling a hair out, it does not hurt to go to the doctor to help you.
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Carolyn Twersky Assistant editor Carolyn Twersky is an assistant editor at Seventeen and covers celebrities, entertainment, politics, fashion, beauty and health.