When you notice an ingrown hair, proceed with caution. If you pick at the skin or use tweezers to yank the ingrown end out, you are likely to do more harm than good. You could end up with an infection or irritate the area even more.
Your best bet is to soak the affected skin for at least 10 minutes in warm water or a salt-water solution to soften it up. Softening the skin will allow you to remove the hair more gently. Next, if you decide to try to extract the hair, get a magnifying mirror so you have a better view of what you're doing. You don't want to poke at the wrong point in your armpit. Sterilize a needle with alcohol and try to insert it under the part of the hair above the surface. Then carefully pull the needle up to release the hair [source: Bolognia et al.].
If you're worried about bacteria and want to eliminate the ingrown hair naturally, use a solution of white vinegar diluted with water. It would be tough to soak your armpits unless you sink down into the tub, so try soaking a washcloth and placing it under your arm [source: Alai].
To help relieve the itchy irritation caused by ingrown hairs, you can use a hydrocortisone cream, which is sold over-the-counter, or an oatmeal lotion. Also, consider shaving with an electric razor while your skin heals, so as to avoid causing yourself even more discomfort.
Remember that when you have an irritation under your arm, you should be careful about the deodorant or antiperspirant you use. Any products applied to open or inflamed skin can make matters worse.
Underarm ingrown hairs are a pain, but there are ways for you to prevent and treat them. To gather more information on ingrown hairs under your arms, check out the links below.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- Alai, Nili N. "Folliculitis" MedicineNet. (Accessed Sept. 29, 2009)http://www.medicinenet.com/folliculitis/page5.htm#treatment
- Bolognia, Jean; Joseph J. Jorizzo; and Ronald P. Rapini. "Dermatology, Vol 1." Mosby, London: 2003 (Accessed Sept. 28, 2009)http://books.google.com/books?id=f2IwYiyh3YUC&pg=PT589&dq=dislodge+ingrown+hair&lr=&ei=D6rCSraNGabAygT53ZigBA#v=onepage&q=dislodge%20ingrown%20hair&f=false
- Brigham and Women's Hospital. "How to Prevent and Treat Ingrown Hairs." July 20, 2008 (Accessed Oct. 13, 2009)
- Gibson, Dr. Lawrence E. "Ingrown Hairs: How Do You Prevent Them?" Mayo Clinic. Jan. 30, 2008 (Accessed Sept. 28, 2009)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/ingrown-hairs/AN01262
- Mayo Clinic. "Folliculitis." Oct. 6, 2009. (Accessed Oct. 13, 2009)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/folliculitis/DS00512
- PlanetRx. "Topical Antiseptics & Antibiotics." (Accessed Oct. 13, 2009) http://www.planetrx.com/library/articles/index.cfm/ID/25105
- Toronto Cosmetic Clinic. "Pseudofolliculitis Barbae." May 11, 2009. (Accessed Oct. 13, 2009) http://www.tcclinic.com/learning_centre/hair/ingrownhair.php
- WebMD. "Razor Bumps." June 26, 2007 (Accessed Sept. 27, 2009)http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/tc/razor-bumps-topic-overview