Friday, May 15

Ingrown hair definition - What is ingrown hair?

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What is ingrown hair?

Ingrown hair is a condition wherein a hair grows at an abnormal angle and grows sideways into the skin.
It may cause inflammation, pain and tiny bumps in the affected area. Though in most cases it appears in areas where the skin is shaved, tweezed or waxed, it can involve any hairy area on the body. When the angle of growth of hair is disturbed and is cut or broken off with uneven sharp tip, it may grow sideways penetrating the skin causing this condition.

Ingrown hair is common in individuals who shave very close to the skin. The ingrown condition is more prevalent in people with curly or coarse hair. Shaving against the direction of growth can increase the chances of razor burn and ingrown condition. The condition usually resolves by itself. Treatment may become necessary when the ingrown condition involves skin infection, folliculitis or pseudofolliculitis barbae.
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Web definition
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary definition of the condition is "A hair that grows at an abnormal angle and turns back into the skin, causing the formation of a pustule or papule".
The drugs.com definition is "An ingrown hair occurs when a shaved or tweezed hair grows back into the skin. It can cause inflammation, pain and tiny bumps in the area where it was removed".
Dictionary.kids.net.au defines as "a hair that does not emerge from the follicle but remains embedded in the skin (usually causing inflammation)".

What is the cause of ingrowth?

As said earlier, the naturally coarse or tightly curling thick hair, while growing back after a shave, may curl and pierce the skin and grow into it. This condition is known as extrafollicular ingrowth in which the shaft after exiting the follicle reenters the skin. In transfollicular condition the hair does not exit the follicle and it curls back and grows into the skin.
image of ingrown hair
Ingrown hair being removed
A common polymorphism in a keratin gene (K6hf) may be a genetic risk factor for pseudofolliculitis barbae type of ingrowth. Blocking of the follicle by hard dead skin may also induce ingrown condition. Excessive circulating androgen hormones may promote excessive coarse hair growth and increase the risk factors. Continued friction on the skin and tight-fitting clothing may also cause these ingrowths.

What does an ingrown hair look like?

These ingrowths produce raised, often inflamed red bumps, which may look like inflamed pimples. Infected ingrowths may collect pus and become itchy, painful and uncomfortable.

Prevention

The best way to prevent this condition is to allow the hair to grow naturally on the face and body. The next effective alternative is to use beard trimmer at the lowest setting. If shaving is a must, however, be sure to do it right. Moisturize the area of skin to be shaved with warm water and use a new sharp razor blade. This will prevent the hard (without moisturization) shaft of hair from being pulled by the rough razor blade, upsetting its root and its angle of growth.

Applying the proper amount of lubrication in the form of shaving cream or gel, may prevent the stubble from being forced sideways into the skin. One should avoid applying pressure on the skin with razor. Applying pressure on the skin while shaving or shaving against the direction of hair growth may cut it far below the skin level and contribute to its growth into the skin.

What is the treatment for ingrown hair?

Totally avoiding shaving for three to four weeks may resolve the existing ingrown bumps. Extrafollicular ingrowths can usually be pulled gently from under the skin, with tweezers and cut above the skin level. Completely pulling out the ingrown hair from its follicle may alter the angle of growth of subsequent shafts and increase the risk of further ingrowths. Transfollicular ingrowths may require removal by a dermatologist. Some of the treatment options for ingrown hairs are, chemical depilatories, topical creams, laser treatment and surgical removal.
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References on ingrown hair:
1.Ribera M, Fernández-Chico N, Casals M. [Pseudofolliculitis barbae]. Actas Dermosifiliogr. 2010 Nov;101(9):749-57.
2.Alexis A, Heath CR, Halder RM. Folliculitis keloidalis nuchae and pseudofolliculitis barbae: are prevention and effective treatment within reach? Dermatol Clin. 2014 Apr;32(2):183-91.
Image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Eingewachsenes_Haar_2010.jpg
Image author: LBPics | Image license: CC BY-SA 3.0
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