How Long Do Ingrown Hairs Last? Here’s What to Expect
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While smooth skin right after shaving is desirable, the tiny red bumps that sprout up sometimes are not. Ingrown hairs annoy nearly everyone who shaves, regardless of whether they are male or female.
When your goal is to achieve smooth and soft, hairless skin, painful bumps are the last thing you want to see on your body. You probably want to get rid of your ingrown hairs right away, and may wonder how long do ingrown hairs last? We have all the information necessary, so you know how long do ingrown hairs last, what causes them, and how to prevent them.
How Long Do Ingrown Hairs Last?
To understand why ingrown hairs stick around, or even pop up in the first place, it is important to understand everything about ingrown hairs. If you want to wait for your ingrown hairs to disappear naturally, you might have to wait up to several weeks for your hair to grow out on its own and exit the skin. For some people, these bumps could disappear after just a few days, but for others, it is a more lengthy process. By digging into the cause of ingrown hairs, you can discover ways to minimize this annoying skin condition.
What Are Ingrown Hairs?
Ingrown hairs show up as small, red bumps on your skin. They typically show up anywhere you have shaved, and may also be known as “razor bumps” to some people. Ingrown hairs appear when your hair curls around and enters the skin instead of exiting your skin as normal. Typically, your hair grows straight out of your hair follicle and exits your skin. But with ingrown hairs, you may see a pimple-like bump where the hair grew back into your skin.
Sometimes, this bump will have pus inside of it, almost like a pimple. Other times, you may see part of the hair that is growing back into your skin. For most people, these bumps are painful or even itchy. At the very least, they can be unsightly when you are trying to achieve smooth skin from shaving. It is not surprising that people wonder how long do ingrown hairs last since they are not pleasant.
What Makes You Susceptible to Ingrown Hairs?
While anyone can get an ingrown hair, some people are more likely to experience them more often. People with curly hair are more likely to have ingrown hairs because their hair does not grow straight, so it has a higher chance of curling back around into the skin. When your hair is coarse, you have the same risk since your hair can more easily pierce your skin and grow back into it.
Men are more likely to experience ingrown hairs on their necks and faces since they likely have thick facial hair that they often shave. For women, ingrown hairs are more likely to pop up on their legs, armpits, or pubic areas. Bikini lines are especially susceptible since the hair is more likely to be thick and curly, and the constant rubbing of clothing can also irritate the area.
How to Treat Ingrown Hairs
Now that you know what causes ingrown hairs, if you are wondering how long do ingrown hairs last, you probably want to know the quickest way to get rid of them. If your ingrown hair has lasted longer than a few weeks and appears to be getting worse, it may be infected. In these instances, you will want to see a doctor right away. The doctor can make an incision allowing the hair to grow out properly. Luckily, this is not what usually happens when you have an ingrown hair, and you can probably get rid of it at home.
Though you may be tempted to pick at your ingrown hair, it is best if you refrain from picking and pulling at the bump, as this can make it more irritated or can even cause an infection. Scarring is also more likely if you pick at the bump, and you may end up with a dark discoloration on your skin long after the ingrown hair is gone. Laser hair removal is great for removing and helping to prevent ingrown hairs but can be costly. Read on for tips on how to prevent ingrown hairs from returning and causing a nuisance in your skincare routine.
Ways to Prevent Ingrown Hairs
If you are asking yourself how long do ingrown hairs last, the answer depends on what you do to them. While they can stick around from a few days to a few weeks, the good news is that there are easy steps you can take at home to minimize your irritation from these bumps. By incorporating these steps into your routine, you can maintain blemish-free skin.
Exfoliate Your Skin Every Day
Because ingrown hairs occur when your hair has the chance to grow back into your skin, exfoliation is key for keeping your hairs outside of the hair follicle where they belong. To exfoliate, you can run your washcloth under warm water while you’re washing your skin. Rub the washcloth over your face (or other body areas prone to ingrown hairs), being sure to move the washcloth in outward, circular motions. The fibers on the washcloth and the motion will help to get rid of any dead skin cells and will keep your hairs from growing inwards again.
Shave Along the Grain
Typically, people love to shave against the direction in which their hairs grow since it gets a close and smooth shave. And while this is tempting, unfortunately, this can also increase your risk of ingrown hairs. Instead, try to shave in the same direction your hair grows to keep your skin smooth and bump-free. For added smoothness, use warm water to make your skin softer, and use a shaving gel to ensure the blade does not get caught on your hairs. It may take more effort to get a smooth shave while shaving in the same direction of your hair growth, but it is worth it for the lack of ingrown hairs.
Use Sharp Razors
Have you been clinging on to your old blade for too long now? Dull blades increase the risk of ingrown hairs and can irritate your skin. For a smooth shave, it is ideal to use sharp razors and change them out often. Single-blade razors allow for the closest shave and are even better for your skin than razors with three or four blades, which is why old-time barbers often used long, sharp, single blades. You also want to go over your skin with as few strokes as possible. You may think going over your skin with many strokes will get every hair, but this can irritate your skin and increase the risk of ingrown hairs.
Leave a Little Bit of Hair
Though you may want the smoothness of a baby’s bottom, consider leaving a small amount of hair if you find that you are prone to ingrown hairs. By leaving a small amount of stubble, you are allowing your hair to remain out of your skin, so there is no risk of it growing back into your skin and causing an ingrown hair.
You can also keep your stubble by using an electric razor and trimming your hair, so it is close to the surface without shaving it all the way off. Your hair follicles will thank you for leaving some stubble. For women or those who want a completely smooth look, this may not be ideal, but it is something to consider when possible.
Chemical Exfoliation Is Your Friend
We have already discussed the benefits of physical exfoliation, using a washcloth or something similar to remove your dead cells. But chemical exfoliation is key for keeping razor bumps away and can even reduce the appearance of “strawberry legs” where women complain of seeing their tiny hairs and the look of a strawberry’s skin on their legs.
Chemical exfoliation uses acids such as alpha hydroxy acids (or AHAs) or beta hydroxy acids (or BHAs) to eliminate your dead skin cells. Lotions can be found with AHAs and BHAs in them, which is perfect for use on your body. For your face, there are moisturizers, masks, and serums that can do the same thing. With chemical exfoliation, you don’t even need to scrub your skin raw for desirable results.
Conclusion: How Long Do Ingrown Hairs Last?
While ingrown hairs are unsightly and even painful to those who experience them, the good news is that, if you’re wondering how long do ingrown hairs last, they don’t last forever. Even when left to their own devices, ingrown hairs typically grow normally within a few weeks, so that the bump is no longer there.
If you would rather not get those annoying bumps in the first place, there are plenty of tips you can incorporate into your routine to minimize their appearances, such as exfoliation and only shaving using sharp-bladed razors. With time and care, you can make sure that ingrown hairs are just a pesky thing of the past, and maintain the smooth skin you desire.