How Do You Get and How Long Does an Ingrown Hair Last: Causes, Treatment, Pictures

Those who regularly shave are familiar with the tiny bumps that resemble pimples which often show up on recently shaved areas. They are referred to as ingrown hairs. These are not the kind of bumps you have to worry about possibly transforming into malignant lumps or anything like that. In fact, you might not even notice they are there.

Mild ingrown hairs disappear without intervention in a couple of weeks. Problems arise when they become chronic, form cystic bumps or get infected. In that case, you will not only be dealing with irritation but also the possibility of scarring and symptoms of infection. So how do you get an ingrown hair, and how long does an ingrown hair last?

How do you get ingrown hair?

You get an ingrown hair when hair is blocked from reaching the surface of the skin by clogged skin pores or when hair takes a U-turn and pierces the skin. To the immune system, hair that has grown into the skin is a foreign material which has to be removed. Irritation that results as the immune system attempts to correct the situation causes inflammation and hence an ingrown hair bump.

Infection is often caused by staph bacteria which live on the skin and enter through breaks or cracks in the skin. Cystic cases develop when the ingrown hair has formed very deep in the skin. Chronic cases occur when ingrown hairs fail to resolve in time. See ingrown hair bump pictures for illustrated details.

How do you get ingrown hair; common causes

There are some factors that generally contribute to ingrown hairs; they include:

Waxing and shaving

Shaving is the most common method people use to keep their skin smooth. After shaving, hair may be left with sharp tips which are likely to pierce the skin in the event that the hair will curl back. Waxing gets rid of entire hair from follicle. As it grows back, it might encounter clogging in skin pores and be forced to grow sideways.

Having curly hair

Curly hair can be quite charming. The problem is that it is more likely to grow back into the skin after it has been shaved. Much the same can be said about thick or coarse hair. It is for this reason that African-Americans tend to get ingrown hairs more often.

Shaving inappropriately

Shaving is one of those things everyone thinks is easy until they need to do it. It requires both preparation and skill. The most common mistakes that people make are shaving against the grain, using regular soap and pressing the blade too close to the skin. There are many websites on which you can get details on how to improve your shaving skills.

Tight clothing

Tight clothing is a notorious contributing factor to ingrown hairs that most people don’t know of. The same is to be said of synthetic fabrics. They keep the skin from breathing and also increase friction against the skin. Stick to cotton underwear when dealing with ingrown hairs around bikini line and genitals.


Hereditary factors contribute to ingrown hairs in a number of ways. One is by assuring curly hair in people whose parents have the same feature. Another is by being responsible for conditions such as excess sebum secretion or dry skin.

Forgetting to exfoliate  

It is a little gross to know that you continuously shed off dead skin cells and replace them with new ones. This is a life-long process that is actually very beneficial. Unless removed from the skin, these dead cells may end up in skin pores. The result is that affected pores will be blocked, making it impossible for hair to reach the skin’s surface.

How long does an ingrown hair last?

You may have heard that ingrown hairs will disappear even if you don’t tend to them. While that is a fact, it is not always the best move. So how long does an ingrown hair last?

There is no specific duration that an ingrown hair will last. As you may already know, their formation follows a process. First, hair will loop, pierce the skin and grown into it. A natural response aimed at getting rid of the hair will be stirred which will cause swelling. With time, the hair may break through or straighten.

This whole process can take less than a week or up to several weeks. It depends on how deep the hair has grown into the skin or how deep in the follicles the hair has grown sideways. It also depends on intervention measures being put in place to encourage recovery.

Body regions that are not exposed to free air circulation take longer to recover from ingrown hairs. This is commonly seen in bikini areas and genitals. For example, a deep ingrown pubic hair bump can last so long that it may be taken for a sebaceous cyst.  If you have dry skin or are prone to acne flare ups, you may also be at a higher risk of more persistent ingrown hairs.

How long does an ingrown hair last with treatment

With treatment, the time frame for an ingrown hair can be greatly reduced. The good thing is that treatment for ingrown hairs doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, simple natural remedies can do the trick very effectively. Here are some options you can try:

Use corticosteroids

The idea behind use of corticosteroids for ingrown hairs is to reduce inflammation. This will allow the hair to push and break through the skin. Other than that, these medications reduce itchiness or the urge to scratch.

Use retinoids

Retinoids are very effective medications that remove dead skin cells. Make sure to consult your doctor before using them because they come with some side effects.

Use antibiotics

If you have severe ingrown hairs or prone to infection, antibiotics are very essential. They keep infection from spreading and treat any looming possibilities of infection.

Perfume minor surgery

Since the main idea is to get the trapped hair out of the skin, you can achieve the same by performing a minor surgery and releasing it. A needle or tweezers can be used for this operation. Note that this operation is only recommended at home when the ingrown hair can be seen. A doctor should be consulted for how to get rid of ingrown hair cyst surgically. Otherwise, you risk getting infected or scarring.

Generally, learning the causes and contributing factors of ingrown hairs will help avoid them entirely or hasten recovery from them.


Sometimes, you may be confusing an ingrown hair with another type of skin condition. Acne is the best example. It is for this reason that you should consider medical diagnosis for ingrown hairs that last for more than 4 weeks.