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Ingrown Hair Basics

Preventing Ingrown Hairs

Because ingrown hairs often result from shaving, one easy way to prevent them is to simply stop shaving. As your hair grows away from your skin, it's less likely it will curl back into the hair follicle. If putting the razor aside isn't an option, try using a depilatory cream instead of a razor. Depilatory creams contain sodium thioglycolate or calcium thioglycolate, chemicals that dissolve hair above and slightly below the skin's surface.

Shaving, especially frequent shaving, can be hard on the skin because it damages hair follicles and encourages ingrown hairs. Try gently exfoliating your skin before shaving, and remember to replace your razor blade frequently. You can also soften the hair before shaving by soaking it in warm water and applying a moisturizer. Shave in the same direction in which the hair is growing, and don't shave the same area more than once per session [source: Jay]. If you use wax to remove unwanted hair, carefully follow the wax's directions to ensure hair is lifted out by its roots.

Because ingrown hairs frequently occur in areas that experience constant friction, you should avoid wearing tight clothing in areas you often shave. Men with ingrown hairs on the neck should avoid tight collars, and women with ingrown hairs on their legs should avoid tight pants. [source: Mayo Clinic].

What happens if you try all these preventive measures and still end up with unsightly red bumps? Read on to learn about treatment options.