It's safe to say that man's greatest nemesis when it comes to grooming, is ingrown hair (also known as razor bumps). They can appear anywhere, however, men are typically plagued by razor bumps on their faces and necks due to shaving, right where everybody can see them. The hair that gets shaved off leaves an edge that can curl back into the skin and start growing downward or sideways. The inward growing hair causes irritation underneath and in the pores of the skin, creating an infection. For this reason, they are often mistaken for pimples and can cause great pain and discomfort, not to mention embarrassment.
Once you’ve determined you indeed are suffering from razor bumps, the next step is to treat them. There are a variety of methods and products that can be applied to eliminate ingrown hair. Begin with the simplest methods, and if you are still battling with a stubborn hair that won’t dislodge, give other suggested methods a chance. As always, you should seek professional medical treatment if needed.
Warm Compress and Exfoliation
The least invasive method involves a warm washcloth and exfoliant. Wash the inflamed area with the warm washcloth, moving in a circular motion. Once the skin is clean and the pores have opened from the warm water, use an exfoliant such as a sugar or salt scrub. If you don't have a scrub already on hand, you can make one using what you already have in your pantry (combine sea salt, Epsom salt, or raw sugar with sesame or vegetable oil). Like with the washcloth, gently scrub in a circular motion over the inflammation.
The opening of the pore and exfoliation of the epidermal layer should draw the ingrown hair out for you to grab with a tweezer and remove.
Rubbing Alcohol and a Needle
Another method using household items involves a little more care due to the damage you can potentially cause to the skin. If the inflammation is causing great pain, you just may need to resort to this more aggressive method. Begin by cleansing the inflamed area with rubbing alcohol. If you have a brand new needle, use it; otherwise, be sure to sterilize your needle with the same rubbing alcohol. Carefully make a pinprick at the top of the bump with your sterile needle (which most likely will draw a small amount of blood and pus).
Take a pair of tweezers, preferably a needlepoint tweezer, to remove the ingrown hair. Tweezerman makes an excellent pair called Ingrown Hair Splintertweeze for Men that has an extra sharp tip and is designed to fit properly in a man’s hands.
If exfoliating is not dislodging the ingrown hair or you do not want to deal with a needle, there are a variety of topical methods you can apply. Using a product that has salicylic acid or glycolic acid is essential as they will dry out the inflamed area, drawing the ingrown hair to the surface for easier removal. Salicylic acid is naturally derived from plants such as the bark from a willow tree. Glycolic acid is derived from fruits, such as citrus fruits and even cane sugar. Both acids work as an exfoliant to the skin, removing dead skin cells and drying out the area.
Most men can get by with a warm compress, tweezers, and a topical solution. But, if you are plagued by a constant presence of ingrown hairs (or a rash of them), particularly those of you with thick, coarse or curly hair, you may want to consider laser treatment or electrolysis. Laser treatment involves using pulsing light to essentially stunt the hair follicle, which is the area in the skin that produces the hair. Electrolysis involves the use of a needle-like probe that is inserted into each individual hair follicle to destroy it.
Both methods must be conducted by a professional and require multiple treatments. Both of these methods can be extremely costly, but effective if you are overwhelmed with a chronic case of razor bumps.