How to Get Rid of an Ingrown Hair: Treatment & Home Remedies

Updated in February 2023

Getting rid of an ingrown hair involves removing dead skin cells and other skin impurities to promote the growth and eruption of a hair follicle. This can help to prevent folliculitis, an skin inflammation that occurs when the root of the hair follicle becomes inflamed. 

Some ways to treat n ingrown hair is to wash the skin daily with warm water, and to exfoliate the skin once a week with sugar or baking soda. These measures will help hairs to grow freely and perforate the skin. 

If the follicle becomes inflamed, the dermatologist can prescribe medications, like oral antibiotics or topical ointments with antibiotics, retinoids or anti-inflammatories.

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How to treat an ingrown hair

Some ways to get rid of an ingrown hair include: 

1. Washing the skin with warm water 

Washing the skin every day with warm water and a mild soap when showering promotes the dilation of skin pores. This helps ingrown hairs to grow and puncture the skin. When showering, you can use a sterile needle to lift and get rid of the ingrown hair. 

2. Using ointment, cream or gel 

If an ingrown hair becomes inflamed, the doctor may prescribe an ointment cream or gel with antibiotics, like neomycin, gentamicin, or mupirocin. These help to fight off any bacteria present in the follicles and and can improve symptoms like itching and pain. 

The doctor may also recommend using retinoids, like tretinoin, which will chemically exfoliate the skin. This will help to remove the ingrown hair and lighten any darkening caused by it. These topical products are usually applied twice a day, for 5 to 7 days, after bathing. 

3. Exfoliating the skin

Exfoliating the skin in circular movements helps to remove the outermost later of the skin, which will allow the hair to puncture through. Exfoliation can be done with a mixture of almond oil with sugar. 

You should only exfoliate your skin once per week, and is not advised for ingrown hairs that have developed into folliculitis, as it can worsen swelling.

4. Using moisturizer 

Using a general moisturizer, like jojoba oil, coconut oil or almond oil, an affected areas can prevent drying and will soften the skin around the ingrown hair. This will promote the follicle to poke through. It is important to apply moisturizer every day, after bathing. 

5. Laser hair removal

Laster hair removal or IPL hair removal are very interesting options for getting rid of ingrown hairs. This procedure destroys the ingrown hair and prevents new hairs from growing. This is a great approach for those who frequently experience ingrown hairs and folliculitis. 

Laser hair removal should be oriented by a dermatologist, who will evaluate the most appropriate technique for your skin type. 

6. Taking medication 

For more serious infections, the dermatologist may prescribe oral antibiotics, like erythromycin or cephelexin 3 to 4 times a day for up to 10 days. This will help to manage the infection, and decrease symptoms like redness, discharge and itching. 

Possible complications

Normally, an ingrown hair is not a serious situation and can be treated at home. However, there are some cases which require a more thorough assessment of the ingrown hair. Some signs that should be assessed by a dermatologist include: 

  • Increased pain and swelling around the ingrown hair, which may be a sign that pus is accumulating in the area 
  • Fever, as a temperature over 100.4ºF or  38ºC may be a sign of infection
  • Frequent ingrown hairs 

In these cases, you should see your family doctor or a dermatologist for treatment.