Difference Between Ingrown Hair And Herpes

April 1, 2018

Veronica Phan

Difference Between Ingrown Hair And Herpes

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Herpes looks like pimples. And so do ingrown hairs. But do you know the difference between ingrown hair and herpes to find an appropriate solution for your condition?


Your skin is the truthful and honest reflection of your body. Monitoring any change and abnormalities of your skin is considered as an effective way to detect many health problems. Among that, ingrown hair cyst and herpes are two different problems that lead to different complication for you.

Both of them appears topically and causes some rashes on your skin. And sometimes these characteristics make distinguishing ingrown hair and herpes hard.

But do you know the difference between ingrown hair and herpes? And what is the consequence if you are not about to define these two separate definitions?

What is the definition of herpes?

Herpes simplex virus is considered as the only reason of herpes- a dermal condition which leads to many severe conditions such as herpes of the eyes, herpes infection in the brain, and even neonatal herpes in the newborn when his mother has herpes [1].

Difference between ingrown hair and herpes
Digital visualization of a virus

But herpes usually shows up as a cyst and sometimes pimple with no head which causes misunderstanding about distinguishing between herpes and acne with no head. However, ingrown hair looks like a pimple, too, and also ingrown hair appears in some typical location as herpes which makes ingrown hair cyst look like herpes in some ways.

That’s why we are about to edit an article about “Difference between ingrown hair and herpes?” to help you understand more about these two types of cysts.

But before moving to the main part of the article: what is the difference between ingrown hair and herpes, you should know what an ingrown hair is.

What is an ingrown hair?

Ingrown hair is known as the cyst formation when a hair bends in the wrong direction and penetrates the skin [2].

An ingrown hair is much more simply than herpes as it is the usual mechanism of the body whereas herpes is caused by a virus. Moreover, ingrown hair cyst commonly does not require a medical intervention which means that you should know the difference between ingrown hair and herpes to find an appropriate solution for your condition.

Difference between ingrown hair and herpes

In order to distinguish ingrown hair and herpes- two types of dermal condition, we should compare them in several characteristics: location, symptoms and signs, and the complications.

1. Location


Herpes is divided into three types based on the site of infection which includes: oral herpes and genital herpes, and herpetic whitlow.

Oral herpes indicates that the herpes infection occurs in the face or mouth surrounding. And whereas herpes simplex virus type 1 (known as HSV-1) is the most common cause of oral herpes; genital herpes is caused by herpes simplex virus type 2 (known as HSV-2) [1].

And the last herpes is herpetic whitlow which means herpes appearing in hand.

Ingrown hair

As mentioned before, ingrown hair is the consequence of abnormal hair bending and development in the wrong direction.

Difference between ingrown hair and herpes.
Leg is the common place of ingrown hair

Therefore, the commonplace of the ingrown hair consists of every place that hair grows at a higher rate, such as the scalp, armpit, beard area in male and pubic hair.

Besides, armpit hair can cause pain and uncomfortable feeling, especially when you move your arm and do the action. We highly recommend you to read HOW TO GET RID OF INGROWN ARMPIT HAIR to remove this obstacle. But in case you know how to distinguish the difference between ingrown hair and herpes.

As the commonplace for both of herpes and ingrown hair is the pubic and face, you can misunderstand herpes and ingrown hair. That explains why we recommend you to read “Difference between ingrown hair and herpes” to distinguish without depending on the location of herpes and ingrown hair cyst.

2. Transmission


As mentioned before, herpes is caused by two types of HSV which means herpes can cause transmission. Both of two types of herpes are transmitted directly via the body fluids or the lesions of an infected individual.

And the common transmission route of herpes can include sexual intercourse leading to genital herpes, kissing resulting in oral herpes. The transmission can happen even when there’s no sign or symptom of herpes. Therefore, be careful when you have loving acts with the stranger. But it does not mean the familiar people cannot cause herpes transmission, though.

Ingrown Hair

Transmission is another difference between ingrown hair and herpes. Ingrown hair does not cause any transmission as it often happens in the people who wax and shave their hair at a higher frequency which means ingrown hair cannot be spread.  

In the male, you can see the formation of ingrown hair cyst in the beard area after shaving. But it is unable for an ingrown hair spreading if you kiss the other.

The same as the girl, waxing leg, and shaving armpit or pubic hair for a perfect swimsuit does not cause any ingrown hair formation for your partner after having sexual contact.

3. The density of ingrown hair cyst and herpes.

Although mentioning that ingrown hair and herpes look like a pimple with no head, they have several typical characteristics which you can use to separate two types of dermal abnormalities.

Herpes usually occurs in the oral and genital area as a group of blister. You can see herpes as a group of watery cluster, also. This blister is also called “outbreak” because it will break and form an ulcer later.

Apart from herpes, ingrown hair usually shows up individually all because of its formation: a hair bending backward and break the skin. And as a result, an ingrown hair cyst for each strand is formed.

4. Other symptoms of ingrown hair and herpes


As usual, it takes you from several days to a couple of weeks to notice the symptoms of herpes after the initial contact with the help of spreading body fluid.

Blister occurs quickly and provides the raw and painful sore to the infected people. And because it is called infection, some of the infection symptoms comes up with the blister formation, such as fever and swollen lymph nodes. A headache is reported in the herpes infection, too [3].

This is explained by your body mechanism. When the virus and bacteria infect your body, the body orders the white blood cells to move to the affected area. This movement of white blood cells lead to swollen lymph nodes and also cause fever in some cases as the defending mechanism.

In addition, cracked, redness around the herpes area like mouth and the genital area can cause pain, itching, and soreness. This is the most bothersome problem of herpes because when the herpes blister breaks out, it leads to pain and soreness around the genital and rectal area which makes you uncomfortable while moving.

Especially the female with herpes can suffer from soreness every urination.

Ingrown hair

The main difference between ingrown hair and herpes cannot fulfill without the symptoms and signs of both herpes and ingrown hair.

As mentioned before, because of the look like a pimple with no head, both an ingrown hair cyst and herpes can be misunderstood. But there are also some specific features of each problem.

An ingrown hair cyst usually appears individually in the armpit, face, and leg area in the form of swollen acne. In some cases, the acne tends to form the mucus covering the hair, but it is also covered with residue oil excreted from the hair follicles.


5. The risk for herpes and ingrown hair

The main difference between ingrown hair and herpes is the cause of each problem. While herpes is the infection of herpes simplex virus type 1 and type 2, ingrown hair is caused physically by the bending of hair. Therefore, the subjects of each issue are also considered as another difference between ingrown hair and herpes.


Like other infection, herpes infection is easy to occur when the body is weaker. And as a result, people who have problems with their immune system are more prone to have herpes.

People who are suffering from immunosuppression, an impaired immune system such as the newborn, or the transplant patient, and AIDS patient have higher risks to get herpes. Scientists have found out that herpes with the HSV infection is associated with bipolar disorder, or Alzheimer’s disease, even the fact that these cognitive diseases are affected by the genetics of the infected person.

Ingrown hair

The factor affecting the ingrown hair can be divided into two 2 types: constant factors and changeable factors.

The natural curly hair, sex hormones, and ethnic groups are three constant factors which make people more prone to have the ingrown hair. As you know that when the hair turns its direction backward, the skin is penetrated and leads to the formation of ingrown hair cyst. So the people who have curly hair can easily get an ingrown hair.

On the other hand, a high amount of sex hormones can lead to the excessive hair growth and lead to the ingrown hair because there is not enough space for hair to grow which forces some of the hair to have to develop in the other direction.

And the last constant factor is the African- Americans usually have curly and thick hair. Both of these factors contribute to the higher risk of ingrown hair development.

In contrast, the changeable factors are listed here is the frequency of shaving and waxing hair, and also the way you shave your hair. “Do you wax your hair in a correct way and a recommended frequency?” can affect much on your ingrown hair condition.

6. The healing and recovery ability

Herpes is caused by the virus; however, the immune system of our body cannot remove herpes virus completely. And of course, there is no cure for your herpes infection. However, there is some treatment used to decrease the symptoms of herpes-like pain and itching, and also blister formation of herpes.

Apart from herpes, the cause of ingrown hair cyst is considered as the physical cause, the treatment and solution for your ingrown hair condition are available and will be mentioned in the below content. Or in case you are wondering about the recovery itself, let’s have a look at DO INGROWN HAIR GO AWAY ON THEIR OWN for more information

Treatment of ingrown hair and herpes

The reason why you should know about the difference between ingrown hair and herpes is to find an appropriate treatment for your case because herpes and ingrown hair is two separate condition.

Herpes treatment

After reading the difference between ingrown hair and herpes, you realize that you have the same signs and symptoms of herpes in oral area, hand, and even your genital area, you should find the help of the professionals.

The doctor will give you a short course in about 7 to 10 days of antiviral medication to reduce the symptoms and the severity of herpes. This antiviral therapy can be required longer than usual if the soreness does not seem to relieve as planned.

After that, you will be suggested to have an intermittent treatment. An antiviral drug will be prescribed for you so that you can have the symptom treatment immediately after realizing the appearance of herpes.

In case you have ulceration from herpes more frequently, you should consider taking the antiviral drug daily. This is called the suppressive treatment. However, all of these medications are just used to reduce the symptoms and outbreak of herpes, you should be aware of herpes prevention to protect you and the surrounding people.

Ingrown hair

The most common treatment for ingrown hair is to unplug the ingrown hair. However, the method to get ingrown hair out is not simple.

The first step is you should clean the affected area and exfoliate it with the appropriate exfoliator of your skin. This step is highly recommended to remove all the residue and left oil in the surrounding area of ingrown hair.

Difference between ingrown hair and herpes
Difference between ingrown hair and herpes

Secondly, apply the heat therapy so that the hair follicle will expand in order to prepare for the tweezing in the third step. Use the tweezer to get the ingrown hair out. And if the ingrown hair cyst has no head, we would like you to read HOW TO DRAIN A CYST WITH NO HEAD? to have more information about removing ingrown hair cyst.

The last step is the moisturizer and anti- bacterial step. The essential oil with several anti-inflammatory contents is utilized here. Read ESSENTIAL OILS FOR INGROWN HAIR so that you can know what types of essential oil is good for your ingrown hair condition. Among that, tea tree oil is the most referred oil for ingrown hair so that you can find more information about this product in TEA TREE OIL FOR INGROWN HAIR.

Herpes and ingrown hair prevention

The reason why you should know what is the difference between ingrown hair and herpes is to find an appropriate treatment for each case. But it would be better for you if you can protect you from herpes because herpes has no cure. But it does not mean that ingrown hair should not be prevented, also.


Avoid sexual contact without the protection from condom is the first therapy to prevent the Herpes simplex type 2 infection. It is considered as the most reliable therapy even in case you have no idea about the herpes condition of your partner.

Or if you know that you have herpes, delay the intercourse till the treatment for herpes is effective in reducing the symptoms, and keep using the medication therapy as the doctor’s order. Suppressive antiviral therapy is highly recommended here.

Moreover, there are several ways for you to prevent passing the virus to the other parts of your body and also to other people.

  •    Kissing had better not happen when your partner has oral herpes
  •    Clean your hand with soap and alcohol after touching the infected area.
  •    Do not wet your contact lenses with the help of your saliva.

Ingrown hair

Of course, if you have ingrown hair because of the constant factors like curly hair or sexual hormones, you should find out more about the ingrown hair removal.

But if not, the hair shaving and waxing in moderation are highly recommended to prevent the ingrown hair formation.


Hopefully, after reading Difference between ingrown hair and herpes, you are able to distinguish between two problems and find out appropriate treatment for each issue. But also we expect that you are more aware of preventing herpes as it causes so much uncomfortable feeling and it has no cure for herpes, either.

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