How to Remove or Pop Ingrown Hair on Head: Treatment with Removal Options

Painful bumps on the top or back of head caused by ingrown hair can be quite irritating. Apart from that, they can easily become infected or cause permanent scarring. If you were to stop shaving for several weeks, most ingrown hairs would break through the skin.

Treatment for ingrown hairs on the scalp is not always necessary. Removal options are considered to hasten recovery, keep from infection and prevent recurrence. You can treat these bumps at home or seek medical attention.

What causes ingrown hair on scalp and what does it feel like

If you are used to shaving your head, you may have noticed small red bumps that appear a few days after shaving. They are known as ingrown hairs. When hair is shaved, it is left with a sharp tip. The tip can pierce the skin if the hair is to grow or curl towards the skin. Clogged skin pores on the scalp may also force hair to grow sideways into follicle wall. Since ingrown hair is an abnormal phenomenon, the immune system attempts to get rid of it. This causes irritation and inflammation. Common risk factors of ingrown hairs include:

Curly or thick hair

Curly hair tends to grow downwards rather than straight above the skin. This mostly happens after a close shave. Thick or coarse hair is usually left with sharp tips after shaving. Hair coarseness is the common cause of ingrown beard hair.

Hair removal

Shaving and waxing are the most common causes of ingrown hairs. Poor shaving skills such as shaving against the grains or shaving close to the skin encourage long ingrown hair to grow into the skin. Waxing on short hair may end up breaking the hair inside follicles.

Hereditary factors

If your parents have thick or curly hair, chances are that you will inherit the trait. Ingrown hairs are also more common in African-Americans and Latinos.

Tight clothing

Wearing tight forms of head clothing allows little room for hair growth. As a result, hair will end up curling towards the skin.

Greasy hair products

Hair products that contain greasy materials end up blocking skin pores. This prevents hair from exiting follicles but instead causes it to grow sideways.

Dry skin

Dry skin is prone to dead skin cells accumulation. On top of that, shaving on dry skin encourages close shaving.


A day or two after shaving, you may experience tingling and itchiness on the top of head but mostly on the back of head. Shortly afterwards, you will notice small red bumps that form around hair follicles. Other symptoms may include:

  • Inflammation
  • Pus formation
  • Tenderness and warmth
  • Irritation

How to treat an ingrown hair on head or back of head

To ensure that those painful red bumps do not keep coming back every time you shave, try the following how to treat ingrown scalp hair tips:

Stop shaving

Shaving on already affected areas will cause irritation. Irritation will in turn increase inflammation or damage the skin. Normally, ingrown hairs take 2-5 weeks to resolve. Chronic ingrown hairs can take several months to heal. You can keep your hair short by trimming with scissors.

Warm compress daily

Warm compress reduces swelling and draws the ingrown hair towards the skin surface. If you have infected ingrown hair, warm compress to draw out and drain pus. To warm compress, follow the following steps:

Soak a small piece of towel in hot water and wring it out

Cover the affected area for 5 minutes

Repeat the treatment 3 times twice per day

Apply 1% hydrocortisone cream thrice a day. The cream should reduce inflammation and ease itchiness. If the hydrocortisone cream has been prescribed by a doctor, use it according to given instructions.

Use hair brush and shampoo

Accumulation of dead skin cells ends up clogging skin pores. To avoid this, shampoo your hair on daily basis. Use a hair brush or a toothbrush to scrub the scalp. A rough piece of cloth can also do the trick.

Seek medical attention

If the ingrown hairs fail to respond to these treatments, consider getting medical help. Your doctor may prescribe ingrown hair medicine such as antibiotics or retinoids. Severe cases call for advanced removal options such as use of chemical depilatories or laser hair removal. Laser hair removal permanently gets rid of hair. It is a more popular ingrown hair on legs treatment.

How to pop an ingrown hair on head

Ingrown hairs can be treated at home by popping and draining them. This method is not recommended when treating infected ingrown hairs. This is because it can spread infection or cause permanent scarring. Below are steps to how to pop an ingrown hair on the head:

  • wash your head with medicated shampoo and pat dry
  • warm compress on the affected area until the ingrown hair becomes visible
  • disinfect a sharp needle or tweezers with alcohol
  • prick the bump and pull out the ingrown hair with the tool of choice
  • apply antibiotic ointment to avoid infection

Note that you will be required to pop one ingrown hair at a time. This method may not be very effective if you have clusters of ingrown hairs.

To get it done right, have another person or a professional carry out the procedure. This is especially when it comes to ingrown hair cyst removal.

How to prevent ingrown hair on head

Prevention is always the better cure. Although ingrown hairs are not hard to treat, they may keep coming back every time you shave. Here are tips on how to prevent them:

  • Avoid shaving on affected skin. If you must keep your hair short, keep trimming it rather than close shaving it.
  • Have your hair shaved by a professional barber. Using razors to shave is almost guaranteed to cause ingrown hairs in one way or another.
  • Avoid wearing tight hats and other forms of head clothing especially after shaving. It is very important that the scalp gets enough aeration.
  • Keep your scalp well moisturized at all times. Avoid moisturizers that contain greasy materials and alcohol. Grease blocks hair follicles while alcohol dries the skin.
  • Exfoliate with antiseptic shampoo and a scrubbing tool such as a toothbrush. This removes dead skin cells from the scalp.

How to treat ingrown hair on scalp with home remedies

Home remedies are a cheaper and widely available option for ingrown hair treatment. Here are some you can try:

Baking soda

Ingrown hairs on scalp are usually itchy. Applying baking soda paste to the affected areas will ease the itchiness and also remove dead skin cells.

Tea tree oil

This is a strong antibacterial home remedy. On top of that, tea tree oil reduces swelling caused by irritation in ingrown hairs. Before using tea tree oil, dilute it with water or carrier oil such as coconut oil. Use a cotton ball or a Q-tip to apply it directly.

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera works by preventing infection as well as reducing irritation and itchiness. To use it, squeeze fresh gel from the herb and massage it in circular motion on the affected areas. You can leave it to dry or rinse with water after 15 minutes.

Sugar scrub

Sugar is a very effective exfoliating remedy. For best results, mix white sugar with extra virgin oil. Rub some of the mixture on the affected areas and rinse after 5 minutes. Sugar scrub is commonly used for how to prevent ingrown hairs on bikini area.


Honey is one of the oldest home remedies used to fight infections and ease irritation. To use it, apply a thin layer of raw honey to affected areas and leave to dry.

Don’t depend on home remedies for full ingrown hair treatment. They are only meant to ease the symptoms and encourage recovery.