Dermatology Women's Health / Gynecology

How to treat and prevent ingrown pubic hair

An ingrown hair near the vagina develops when the tip of a pubic hair folds back into the skin at the root. This can cause a painful pink or red bump to appear.

The bump may be hard or soft and pus-filled. It can also become itchy, inflamed, or infected.

Although some ingrown hairs can cause discomfort, they are usually harmless. In this article, learn how to get rid of an ingrown hair near the vagina, as well as some tips for prevention.

Treatment

Ointment being squeezed from tube onto fingertip
Ointments can help reduce the risk of infection.

Most ingrown hairs will resolve without treatment. However, if a bump becomes too itchy or painful, there are a variety of home remedies that people can use to help them heal.

Some home remedies to treat an ingrown hair near the vagina include:

  • Applying a hot compress. Using heat can help the hair rise to the surface. A person can then pluck out the hair with clean, sterilized tweezers. Trying to pull out the hair before it has reached the surface could cause scarring.
  • Stopping hair removal until the ingrown hair has disappeared. Some hair removal methods, such as shaving and plucking, can cause further irritation and increase the likelihood of infection.
  • Washing the affected area with soap and warm water. Rubbing the ingrown hair in a circular motion for 10 to 15 seconds with light pressure can soften skin and encourage the hair to pop out.
  • Using an ointment once or twice a day. This can help minimize the risk of infection.

Creams that can help soothe the area and prevent infection include:

  • hydrocortisone
  • anti-itch cream
  • witch hazel
  • pure aloe vera
  • benzoyl peroxide
  • diluted tea tree oil


Removing the ingrown hair

The best way to encourage an ingrown hair to come out of the skin is by applying a hot compress or cloth soaked in warm water. Taking a warm bath can also help.

To remove an ingrown hair, a person should use sterilized tweezers, grasp the ingrown hair in the center of the loop and gently twist both ways. This should loosen the hair and encourage the tip of the hair to come out of the skin.

Alternatively, a person could try inserting the edge of the tweezers under the loop and gently pulling it upward.

Once the tip of the hair is out of the skin, use the tweezers to carefully pluck the hair and remove it.

A person should then wash the area with warm, soapy water, pat it dry, and apply an antibiotic ointment.

Avoid touching the area until it has fully healed, as this can cause further irritation.

Prevention

To help prevent ingrown pubic hairs, a person can take the following steps:

  • trim longer hairs to make them easier to remove
  • soak the skin in warm water to soften the pubic hair
  • gently exfoliate the area
  • soften the hair with an oil or lotion
  • if shaving, make sure the razor is sharp, use shaving cream, wet the skin first, and pull the skin tight
  • wash the area and gently pat dry
  • apply a moisturizing skin cream that contains salicylic or glycolic acid

Other prevention methods include:

  • moisturizing regularly to keep the skin soft
  • exfoliating regularly to get rid of dead skin cells that can clog hair follicles and cause ingrown hairs
  • using alternative hair removal options, such as chemical hair removers or electrolysis
  • just trimming the hair or letting it grow


Causes

Girl in bathrobe holding pot of sugaring wax
Some hair removal methods can lead to ingrown pubic hairs.

Ingrown hairs are a common problem.

People who shave, wax, or use another method to remove pubic hair may be more prone to ingrown hairs.

Ingrown pubic hairs can also be due to wearing tight clothing that rubs and irritates the skin.

People with curlier or coarser pubic hair are also more likely to experience ingrown hairs.

When to see a doctor

If the bumps look infected, a person should make an appointment with a doctor to get appropriate medical treatment.

Signs of infection include:

  • red skin
  • swelling
  • bumps that are full of pus or extremely painful
  • bleeding

A doctor will examine the area and may prescribe an antibiotic ointment or wash. For severe infections, they may recommend antibiotics.

If a person has symptoms of an ingrown hair but is unsure whether a hair is causing them, they should see a doctor. Some sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can cause bumps that are similar in appearance to ingrown hairs. A doctor can provide an accurate diagnosis.

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