They usually appear as a small tan or sometimes pink bump under the skin. A part of the underlying hair may be seen under the skin bump. In more extensive cases, multiple small red or pink little bumps around hair follicles may be seen too.
An ingrown hair is a very common skin condition occurring primarily after puberty. Ingrown hairs tend to be more common in areas with coarse hairs, like the bikini area in women, and beard and neck in men. Individuals with thicker, curled hairs, tend to have the highest rate of problems with ingrown hairs, particularly of the beard area. Rarely, an ingrown hair may also appear in other skin parts, such as the eyelid. Generally, an ingrown hair is medically harmless, yet it may become cosmetically disfiguring and lead to scarring, skin discoloration (referred to as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation), skin infection, and rarely keloid scar formation.
Ingrown hairs look like pimples in the skin, and sometimes you can see the hair trapped beneath the skin. The spots can be filled with pus. They can be itchy and embarrassing, but they often go away on their own.
How to treat ingrown hairs:
If possible, you should leave ingrown hairs for a while as they may disappear on their own. Don't pick or scratch them as bacteria can enter the small wound created, increasing your risk of infection. It can also cause scarring.
You should also avoid squeezing the spots because it can damage the skin and lead to infection.
If an ingrown hair is near the surface of your skin, you could use a sterile needle or tweezers to gently tease it out. However, don't dig for the hair if it lies deep below the skin's surface.
Men who are prone to getting ingrown hairs around their face may find it best to grow out their beard. Longer hairs aren't as sharp at the ends, so are less likely to become ingrown. See your dermatologist if the spots don't improve and are bothering you. If one particular spot is a problem, your dermatologist may be able to release the ingrown hair using a sterile needle.
Antibiotics are usually only needed if the skin is severely infected with pustules and abscesses.
Preventing ingrown hairs
The simplest way to prevent ingrowing hairs is to let your hair grow freely without shaving it. You may want to try this for a brief period if you need relief from particularly bad spots.
This month Consultant Dermatologist Dr Susan Mayou discusses rosacea with Heart.co.uk, and talks to the Daily Mail about the latest skincare craze, chlorophyll.