All Facts About Ingrown Hair Cyst: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

October 12, 2017

Anna Chen

All Facts About Ingrown Hair Cyst: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

One morning, you look in the mirror and notice a small bump that develops on your chin, which contains a figure of a hair inside. If this case happens, you are likely to have an ingrown hair cyst – a common skin disorder in people who have bad hair removal routines.

So, what causes ingrown hair on face and other parts of the body? And how to get rid of ingrown hair?

This article will explain everything you need to know about this skin issue and the most effective way to help you get rid of a bad ingrown hair.

What is an ingrown hair cyst?

Despite it does not sound familiar to many of us, an ingrown hair cyst is a common condition of our skin. It refers to a cyst which forms inside the hair follicle deep underneath the skin. Some people often misunderstand it as the combination of a cyst and an ingrown hair, but it is actually an independent condition.

The cysts usually appear in people who shave or wax too regularly. Most of us try to get rid of them because of their unpleasant appearance, but a wrong method can worsen the situation and lead to cyst infection.

With a team of clinical practice experts, we will provide the detailed information about the cause, treatment, and prevention of ingrown hair cyst.

What causes ingrown hair in your body?

There are two main reasons of ingrown hair cyst, but it usually appears after a bad method to remove your hair [1].

Skin irritation

Using improper devices (or shaving, waxing, and tweezing violently) to cut the hair can irritate your skin deep layers. The bacteria on the skin or from the outside can enter the damaged area and cause inflammation inside the hair follicles. There it forms ingrown hair pimple and cysts at the root of your hair.

Wrong direction of hair growth

The natural structure of the hairs follicles supposed to be straight, but sometimes it appears in a curvy figure. These types of follicles produce tightly curled hair. After you shave your hair, especially in a dry condition, it tends to bend and re-enter the skin when growing.

Our body responds to the foreign agents by creating a local inflammation – which is the start of ingrown hair cyst. Sometimes, the reaction of the immune system to these cysts make us misunderstand with other types of acne because they look similar.

Here are some potential risk factors of ingrown hairs:

  • You have a natural tightly curled hair
  • Your skin is dry
  • You are infected by bacteria or fungus
  • Wear tight clothes
  • Use improper skin care products

How to differentiate ingrown hair cyst from other similar diseases?

In some cases, the problem of ingrown hair is more severe as it may be misunderstood with other skin disorders.

Acne vulgaris

If you notice the cysts getting bigger, plus with bumps in other areas of your face, it seems that you have encountered Acne vulgaris [2]. The inflamed pores create a skin cover the whole content that blocks the hair follicles, prevent it from draining and form a cyst at that position.

The ingrown hair on face is usually misunderstood with Acne vulgaris, as the symptoms are quite similar. Besides, the cysts in Acne vulgaris often present on the face and neck. If you squeeze or using improper methods to remove them, it can aggravate the complexion. Thus, looking for a consultation from your doctor or dermatologist is the best recommendation in this case.

Epidermoid cyst

This type of cyst is likely to appear in some parts of the body that have little hair. They start from the ectodermal tissues and create small bumps that have no connection with the hair follicle. However, people usually differentiate these two skin disorders.

An Epidermoid cyst is benign, but in some rare cases, it can turn into a malignant one possibly [3]. Until now, the proper treatment consists of an excision or piercing combines with antibacterial medicines.

Hirsutism

If you are a woman, and the ingrown hair cyst is the result of the excess hair growth in abnormal positions (such as your upper lip, chin, or chest), you may acquire hirsutism [4].

This skin disorder is associated with a gene or hormonal disorder. Sometimes using medications that affect your hormonal levels (ex. steroids, danazol, and minoxidil) can lead to unwanted hair growth.

For the most accurate treatment, you need to see a medical practitioner and ask for advice.

Here is one of the most common pictures of cysts to help you distinguish between other skin problems: 

ingrown hair cyst

What is the ingrown hair symptom?

Knowing the symptoms of ingrown hair cyst is essential as you can distinguish it with other severe skin conditions.

As the name implies, a cyst is formed after an ingrown hair appears inside the follicle. Firstly, you may notice it as a little bump with a hair across its red surface. The ingrown hair bumps become larger days by days, and the hair is still there without growing out, which makes you feel pain. The initial red color may turn into white or yellow due to the ingrown hair pus inside. If the fluid becomes green, the infection is more severe as a particular type of bacteria that called Pseudomonas aeruginosa might enter the damage.

In case there is a deep ingrown hair, it is even impossible to see the figure of the hair because it lays deeply underneath the skin layers. You can just feel the appearance of a red pimple on the surface of your skin.

Other signs and symptoms include:

  • Itching at the affected area
  • Papules and pustules
  • The skin color becomes dark
  • Visible embedded hair

When the cyst bursts itself or after an intended popping, you may see a yellow or clear discharge coming out. Sometimes, blood is included inside the cyst. Bleeding ingrown hair cyst requires a proper treatment quickly, or it will get infected.

How many types of ingrown hairs?

A curled hair can grow in two different ways:

  • The hair comes out from the skin surface without any obstructions but then pierces back into the skin.
  • The hair cannot find any exits from the follicle; it is trapped entirely under the skin. It continues to lengthen inside the pore.

Other risk factors (ex. genetics and lifestyle) can play a role in the severity of the condition.

Where can you get ingrown hair cyst?

In males, the appearance of ingrown hair cyst is usually in the beard area (ex. cyst on the jawline, cheeks, and upper lip). If you shave your head, they can develop on the scalp, too. Meanwhile, in the woman, the most common positions are ingrown pubic hair cyst and ingrown hair on leg because they tend to shave the hair on those areas.

In general, people who have tightly curly hair are more likely to have ingrown hairs than others.

There are several positions that can develop this kind of hairs, such as:

  • Ingrown hair on buttock
  • Ingrown hairs on chin
  • Ingrown hair on inner thigh
  • Ingrown eyebrow hair

The complications of ingrown hair cyst

Diagnosing and finding a suitable method to get rid of this issue is possible. But if it is left untreated, the chronic condition will become more complicated, for instance:

  • Infected ingrown hair caused by bursting or popping
  • Hyper-pigmentation (a super pigmentation on the skin)
  • Temporary or permanent scar
  • Razor bumps (caused by improper shaving)

Those complications need a longer treatment period as well as medications.

The treatment of ingrown hair cyst

What to prepare before seeing a doctor

As mentioned above, your doctor will help you find the most suitable way to solve your ingrown hair issue or send you to an expert if he/she cannot handle the problem. But before the appointment, there are some things that you need to pay attention to:

  • List every sign and symptom you are encountering, as detail as possible, even they seem unrelated to your present problem.
  • Think about your personal habits, such as shaving or waxing recently.
  • Think whether you have changed your diet or hygiene products.
  • List every medication and supplement you are taking now.
  • Prepare some questions that you want to ask your doctor.

One day before the appointment, it is better if you stop using chemical products on the affected area not to worsen the situation. Besides, you need to stop shaving, tweezing, and waxing your hair until the ingrown hair symptom alleviated.

Your doctor will be easier to make an accurate diagnosis of ingrown hair cyst by checking the symptoms and discussing your skincare routines.

Here are some medications and methods that your doctors may indicate:

Exfoliation

In other words, it means using some devices or unique skin products to remove the upper layers of the skin, thus let the hair follicles or pores free. There are plenty of ways to get rid of dead skin cells, but they all belong to two major kinds below:

exfoliation

Reduce inflammation

The areas around the bumps often swell, become red, and painful when touching. Those are signs of skin infections. In these cases, your doctor will indicate cream that contains anti-inflammation agents to reduce the redness and swelling.

Steroids are the most well-known medications to get rid of the symptoms. However, it will not target at the root of the problem but just ease the complications, so abusing this method is not recommended.

Antibiotic drugs

In case you scratch the affected areas accidentally, the skin infections may occur from mild to severe level. An antibiotic ointment is essential for the local treatment, while the oral form is prescribed in moderate and over ingrown hair infections.

How to remove ingrown hair by yourself?

tweezing

Yes, if the situation is not too complicated, you can totally handle the uncomfortable hairs at home by using a pair of tweezers and some supported products. We will show you how to do it in some simple steps below:

Step 1

Wash your hands with soap carefully and pour the sterilized liquid into your palm as well as the affected area.

Step 2

If the hair grows underneath the skin, it will be more difficult to remove than another that reveals itself. Use a pair of tweezers to extract the tip of the hair (if available). Do not use any sharp items to create a microsurgery, or you are at risk of skin infection.

If you cannot see the tip, use the tweezers or a needle to pull the tip out, then cut the hair off. It is not essential to remove the whole strain.

Step 3

Wash the affected area with a cleanser that contains anti-bacterial compound (you can use essential oils that have similar effects – we will mention later). Then followed with a cold rinse to close the pores.

Step 4

Pat dry using a clean towel, then apply lotion or ingrown hair cream on your skin. An ingrown hair serum is a smart choice at this time.

Home remedies for ingrown hair treatment

Don’t be such amazing because there are a few items in your kitchen that can help you get rid of ingrown hairs. As soon as you find out the ugly cysts, using some remedies below will ease the symptoms and shorten the treatment period.

Tea tree oil

tea tree oil

From its homeland in Australia, tea tree oil (or Melaleuca alternifolia) has made its way throughout the world for over 100 years. In some decades recently, scientists have found out more and more beneficial effects of this amazing herb, of which antiseptic and anti-inflammatory issues are the most well-known properties.

As ingrown hair cysts are associated with the infected condition of the hair follicles, using this essential oil can help wipe out many strains of bacteria, viruses, or fungi. Besides, it accelerates the wound healing and prevents second ingrown hair infection.

Here are some tips on using tea tree oil for ingrown hairs:

Method 1

  • Wash your affected area with sterilized soap. If the ingrown hairs sit in your face, wash it with a gentle cleanser.
  • Mix five drops of tea tree oil into two tablespoons of water then apply to the skin
  • Let the mixture sit on your skin for at least ten minutes and rinse it thoroughly with lukewarm water.
  • Repeat the procedure twice a day until the cyst has completely gone.

Method 2

If your skin is dry or sensitive with external agents, it is better to add a few drops of olive oil into the mixture to calm the irritation and boost the effectiveness of the essential oil.

  • Combine three drops of tea tree essential oil with one tablespoon of olive oil
  • Apply the liquid on the swollen ingrown hair after cleansing step, then massage it gently in a circular motion.
  • Let it sit for ten minutes before rinsing with lukewarm water.
  • Repeat the process twice a day.

In this method, you can replace olive oil with honey but still remain the similar effect. With natural antiseptic properties, raw honey works amazingly to defeat bacteria and other harmful factors.   

Black tea bags

After reading this article, you may reconsider throwing these useless tea bags after drinking. Yes, the tea leaves remaining inside the bags actually contain a huge amount of vitamins, minerals, and tannins. They help you solve the problem of acne, cyst, and other skin related issues quickly.

Although this home remedy cannot prevent the hair from ingrowing, it is beneficial for easing the swelling and irritation of the cyst. There are several ways to use tea bags, and here are the two most common methods:

Method 1

  • Use warm water to moisten a tea bag
  • Put the bag on the swollen ingrown hair for 2-3 minutes. It is not necessary to rinse your skin.
  • Repeat the process several times a day.

Method 2

  • Soak a black tea bag in 50 ml of hot water for a few minutes and squeeze so it will release the whole active compounds.
  • Put a cotton pad into the tea water and put it on the skin.
  • Repeat the process twice times daily.

Sugar scrub

Mentioning about homemade skin exfoliations, it will be a big mistake if we forget sugar scrub. It is less effort to make, flexible to combine with other ingredients, and efficient for skin exfoliating. By removing dead skin cells, it stimulates the ingrown hair to come out.

What to prepare:

  • One cup of sugar
  • Half a cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • Ten drops of tea tree oil
  • Ten drops of lavender essential oil

Stir well all ingredients in a bowl, then rub the mixture on your skin gently. Then rinse your skin with lukewarm water.

This homemade scrub should be used up to two times per week for the best result. You can prepare a jar of sugar scrub and use a small amount each time, while the remaining mixture should be kept in an airtight container.

Baking soda

If you don’t know, baking soda is a potential skin care product due to the anti-inflammatory effects. It is one of the main ingredients to exfoliate dead skin cells, thus relieves the itching sensation and redness from ingrown hair cysts.

Here are some recipes for using baking soda

Method 1

  • Add one tablespoon of baking soda into one cup of water and wait until it diluted entirely.
  • Dip a cotton pad into the liquid and let it sit on the affected area for 4-5 minutes.
  • Rinse your skin with cold water.
  • Use this remedy 2-3 times per day

Method 2

  • Mix baking soda, oatmeal, and water with 1:1:1 ratio into a bowl until it reaches the consistency of a paste.
  • Apply the mixture on your skin and leave it there up to five minutes before rinsing with warm water.
  • Repeat this method 3-4 times per week.

Aspirin

At first, it may sound a little bit weird to use a painkiller as a skin care remedy, but the uses of Aspirin is far beyond its usual applications. It brings up an anti-inflammatory property and exfoliating benefits to soften the keratin layers on the top of your skin.

The most active agent of this drug is called salicylic acid. You can find its appearance in many hygiene and cosmetic products, including facial care items.

Using Aspirin as a facial and body scrub help remove the potential risk factors of clogging pores (ex. dead skin cells and excess sebum), thus prevent hairs from ingrowing. Besides, this antiseptic medicine helps relieve the inflammation of the cysts if available.

How to use:

  • Clean your affected area with soap or cleanser
  • Crush one tablet of aspirin. Using overdose is not recommended, as it may activate the blood-thinning effect after absorbing into your skin and reach the bloodstream.
  • Add a few drops of water into the powder until you have a thick and gritty paste.
  • Apply the paste on the cyst and wait for 15 minutes, then wash it off thoroughly.

How to prevent ingrown hair cyst?

waxing care

If you suffered ingrown hair cyst in the past, you are more likely to develop a new one if there is no suitable care. If you want to know how to prevent ingrown pubic hairs and other places, the only way is practicing a safe hair removal.

Shaving care

  • If you decide to shave your hair, remember to choose a sharp razor instead of a dull one. If your hair is not cut straightly; it will grow in a curve direction and re-enter the skin
  • Apply shaving cream or gel before using the razor. The conditioner ingredients in shaving cream help smoothen the hair, so it will become easier to cut off without irritating the pores
  • Use warm water rather than a cool one to wash your skin before shaving; it helps enlarge the pores
  • Wash the razor thoroughly after using to remove the dirt and tiny hairs
  • Buy a new razor every six weeks

Tweezing care

If possible, try to tweeze the hair in its right growth direction to remove the whole roots and do not cause damages of the hair follicles

Waxing care

If you choose waxing method as your usual hair removal, it is essential to give your skin a rest between two continuous times. The hair will have time to regrow before the next removal. Whenever you wax, please notice the length of the hair: all of them should reach at least 0.5 millimeters.

Other methods

Choose a gentle cleanser for your skin. Please remember, your skin is a natural barrier to protect yourself from bacteria and other harmful factors, so you need to treat it well. It is better to stay away from harsh cleansers (ex. products that contain alkaline soap or alcohol).

Most dermatologist experts recommend removing dead skin cells and dirt on the skin every week. This step will reduce the chances of clogging pores and accelerate the wound healing if ingrown hair cysts are available.

Last but not least, whatever method you choose, remember to follow up the hair removal by a gentle skin care or lotion to ease your skin.

People also ask – FAQs

Can ingrown hairs be dangerous?

In most cases, besides irritated feeling, ingrown hairs do not affect your body seriously and may disappear after a few days. However, they still can develop some hidden risks that can endanger your life, especially if the infection is not treated well. Staphylococcus aureus is the major bacteria that cause the hair follicle infection.

If you notice the cyst becomes larger, combine with hot, intense ingrown hair pain when touching, and fever, it seems that the condition becomes more severe. If this case happens, please consult your doctor as soon as possible to get the proper control.

Do ingrown hairs bleed?

Yes, of course. Like other types of cysts, if there is a small capillary that runs next to the pores, there is a chance that it can break due to any reasons.

What is ingrown hair serum for?

This product is made from a high concentration of active agents that can smoothen the skin, provide moisture and nourishment for the damaged pores. Most of the ingredients come from fruit extract to prevent the hairs from growing unexpectedly and support the hair removal. You should apply the serum after the procedure to get the best result.

How do you get rid of ingrown hair scars?

The scars from ingrown hairs are not as severe as other skin disorders, as they often leave behind a darker or discolored dot on the skin. There are some possible methods that can help you get rid of those ugly signs:

  • Soften and exfoliate away the scar tissues by scrub items
  • Use skin care products that target at the discolorations or pigmentations
  • Use sunscreen every time you get out to protect the skin from harmful UV rays

Here is everything about ingrown hair cyst – a common symptom of the follicles. After reading this article, you have known some methods and home remedies for ingrown hair, as well as the recommended hair removal habits. Hope that this article has fully provided what you are searching.

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