Ingrown hairs on the face, bikini line or anywhere on the body can be more than a nuisance, they can be downright embarrassing. In fact, they can get inflamed, infected and leave scars and stains in the form of post-inflammatory hyper pigmentation, red lesions or even bumps that just won’t go away.
In fact, it has on occasion been the cause of confusion for some. I have had both male and female patients come into the clinic with what appears to be acne, perhaps on their chin or along their jawline. While certain medications such as retinols, salicylic acids or glycolic acids may help to heal the problem, under amplified light, it is apparent that the acne is nothing more than inflamed ingrown hairs. The hairs are fine and may not be able to force their way through the blocked skin at the stratum corneum level.
What can be done for ingrown hairs? There are several answers, some that work for some and others that work for others. The one true answer of course, is laser hair removal. Depleting the affected area of the nuisance that is causing the trouble in the first place is obviously the easiest answer for the most complete results.
Laser hair removal can be done on all areas of the body, providing that the hair to be treated contains color. If the hair is blonde, grey, silver or white, then electrolysis may be the answer, as electrolysis can be performed on all shades of hair. For laser hair removal, the energy emitted from the laser needs to be able to connect to its target, and thus add enough heat to effectively destroy the hair root. In doing so, each time the laser is performed, a percentage of hair roots should be destroyed, thus lessening the chance for hairs to become ingrown. Although lighter hair like blonde or grey doesn’t respond as well to laser, it can result in some improvement as far as some hair reduction, and thinning and weakening of remaining hairs.
If laser hair removal is not an option for you, or if the area affected by ingrown hairs is an area you do not wish to remove the hair from (beard area of face for men, for example), then there are some products that may alleviate inflammation and prevent ingrown hairs in the first place.
My patients have had excellent results using SkinCeuticals Phyto Correction Gel. It is both an inflammatory and an antibacterial serum. The serum can be applied to the affected area twice a day to reduce inflammation as a spot treatment or some of my patients will apply 3-4 drops all over the area generally affected to prevent new ingrown hairs from developing. Patients will claim that if they were getting 15-20 ingrown hairs at a time, it is quickly reduced to 1-3. That is a huge improvement! And while it is not a 100% cure, patients are very happy with the quick results.
The use of glycolic acid in a moisturizer , such as Alyria’s Exfoliating Moisturizer Level I and II and their Resurfacing Body Cream with 15% glycolic reduces clogged pores and helps the hairs find their way to the surface of the skin. Retinols are also effective in a similar fashion, but are generally used predominantly on the face. Retinols can have anti- acne and anti-aging benefits as well.
To decide on the right choice for you, don’t hesitate to call us at Toronto Dermatology Centre. We will assess the affected area, determine the cause, and work with you to find the best solution for your problem. Our medical estheticians are experts in their field, and there is no referral needed from your doctor.
~ Sheri Roselle, Medical Esthetician at Toronto Dermatology Centre