Ingrown pubic hair can occur on the labia and vagina for females, scrotum and penis for men. The inner thighs can also get affected. Its symptoms can include a pimple or bump, lump or infected cyst.
Ingrown hairs around the genital area normally occur after shaving, waxing or other hair removal methods such as Brazilian wax. Here are pictures, treatments and how to get rid of embedded hair follicles on the bikini.
What is ingrown hair? After shaving, some hairs may curl around and grow back into the skin. The follicles curve and embed back into the skin, causing irritation, bumps and sometimes cysts. You might start to feel itchy in the pubic region.
What does ingrown hair look like? Ingrown hair in the genital area is often mistaken for genital bumps, genital warts and even pimples.
Pictures (photos) can help you distinguish the symptoms and identify if you have a blind pimple or an ingrown follicle.
Just about anyone with hair in the bikini region can get ingrown hair. In most people, the cause is not known. But generally, the problem is common in people who have naturally coarse and curly hair. According to WebMD, “Curly hair is more likely to bend back and re-enter the skin, especially after it’s been shaved or cut.” Below are the causes of ingrown hair on the genital area.
1. Waxing, shaving, plucking or tweezing
“I get ingrown hairs every time I shave the bikini area. What causes them?” Improper hair removal methods are the primary cause of embedded hair follicles. Shaving against the direction of hair growth, for instance, is likely to cause razor bumps and ingrown hair.
Tweezing, for example, can leave hair fragments under the skin. This clogs pubic hair follicles and leads to ingrown hair in the bikini. Other hair removal methods are also likely to be aggressive. You could get this problem after Brazilian waxing or after shaving. Other possible causes are after plucking and after laser hair removal.
2. Pulling the skin when shaving
Most people pull the skin when shaving. This makes the skin taut and easy to shave. The problem with this method is that it will allow the hair you just cut to draw back into the skin. Hair re-enters the skin and grows downward instead of outward and upwards.
A razor bump forms as the ingrown pubic hair tries to force its way out of the skin. This is because the skin feels a foreign body that irritates it. The area will become inflamed, form a cyst or even bleed.
3. Ingrown hair after C-section
Many people complain of embedded hair follicles after caesarean birth. Along the scar line, you are likely to experience small bumps with dark centers. “I had my first CS…four months ago. My scar has healed beautifully… except I now have an ingrowing hair (I think) right in the middle of the scar…” [Source- MumsNet.com]
Scar tissue usually has a hardened skin tissue. This is likely to prevent hair from growing out naturally after shaving. You are likely to experience big painful bumps on the incision line or around the scar after pubic hair removal.
4. Certain sex hormones, during period and pregnancy
Another cause of embedded hair is certain sex hormones. In some people, a change in hormonal balance can trigger excessive hair growth. Too much hair is more likely to cause ingrown follicles. These usually happen during pregnancy and during period in some women.
In women, the hair can band and grow backwards around the vagina, inside labia, on inner thigh or thigh crease and even near the anus. In men, stress factors and puberty can cause excessive hair growth after shaving. Men will experience ingrown genital hair around the penis, scrotum or balls, on the shaft and near the anus as well.
5. Bumps and coarse, curly hair
People with thick and curly hair types are likely to get this problem. The WebMD lists Latinos, African Americans and generally people with thick and coarse hair to be highly prone to pseudo-folliculitis. This refers to razor bumps and razor burn.
Ingrown pubic hair bumps and lumps form after the edge of the cut hair becomes sharp and grows backwards into the skin. When it gets trapped beneath the skin surface, it forms razor bump cysts. Razor bumps are predominant on the neck, face, chin and legs but can occur in the pubic area as well.
6. Clogged hair follicles in bikini area
Hair follicles often get clogged. Sweating due to tight clothes and physical exercise can cause pores and hair follicles to block. When shaving, dead skin cells and debris, dirt and excessive sebum clog the follicles.
- When shaved hair in the pubic region tries to grow back, it gets blocked and grows sideways or downwards.
- This happens a lot in people who do not exfoliate the skin before and after shaving.
- One way to prevent it due to clogged hair follicles is to exfoliate.
Have warm baths and gently scrub the bikini one with a soft brush or loofah. Loosening the skin will allow the hair follicle to open up and the hair to grow back out straight.
Ingrown hair follicles are common on the face, neck, beard area, chin and cheeks in men. In women, they are common on legs and bikini area. The vagina and labia lips can be affected too and this can cause a lot of discomfort and pain. What are the signs and symptoms of ingrown genital hair?
a) Ingrown hair pimple, pustule or zit
It starts as a bubble in the groin area. A pimple on scrotum or a bump on vagina appears on the skin. Most people describe this as pimples, zits, papules or pustules. Ingrown pubic hair pimples or bumps appear as small bumps that are irritated.
The blind pimple or bump forms when hair strands curl back into the skin. Shave bumps can get infected and the pustule or zit may pop or rapture. Pus may drain out of the bumps especially if become tender or suffer trauma from irritation.
b) Itchy bumps
Itchy bumps on the vagina, scrotum or genital area? Itchy skin on the pubic area just after shaving occur due to razor burn. Ingrown hair develops but starts as a result of irritation from the razor or hair removal method.
Another source of the itch is irritation from the hair follicle piercing back into the skin. The bumps can easily cause pain or hurting. Accompanying symptoms include redness, feeling like scratching the pubic area and sometimes inflammation. It is however important not to ignore signs such as itching because some STDs can cause itchy bumps in the pubic area.
c) Painful bumps with no head
Cystic acne and blind pimples are known to have no head. For ingrown hair around the crotch, you might notice small red bumps with a dark spot in the center. These bumps become painful and may keep growing for a few days.
Inner thigh bumps from irritated hair may become painful due to irritation from clothing, sweat and chafing. How long does an ingrown hair bump last? Within a few day, the bump should clear on their own. However, in some severe cases, they may remain for a couple of weeks.
d) Ingrown hair scars, dark spots on pubic area
Scars and black spots are a consequence of ingrown hairs. Uneven skin tone, inflammation, irritation and dark patches form after sores, bumps and boils. The scars are a result of the healing skin that is broken or infected as the embedded hairs heal.
Scars can worsen if you have a habit of scratching, squeezing and picking the raised red bumps due to ingrown hairs in the pubic area. Dark spots and scars arise from the discoloration of the skin (post inflammatory hyperpigmentation). Try skin lightening creams to fade the scars.
e) Abscess and boils on genital area
An abscess is an area that is swollen with tender mass within. Boils and abscesses from ingrown hair are easy to feel and touch. If you are prone to bacterial infections or even fungal infections on hair follicles, an abscess or boil can develop on the ingrowing hair.
Blisters and sores are a sign of infection. The accumulation of pus and debris may drain. Sometimes it appears as a yellow pus or a clear fluid. Severe ingrown hair in the pubic region with such symptoms should be treated with antibiotics to prevent infections from spreading further to other parts of the groin or bikini.
f) Pus-filled blisters and lesions
Another symptom of infected ingrown hair is pus-filled bumps. With the skin structure getting damaged from irritation and bacterial activity around the embedded hair follicle, a lesion may form in the bikini area.
Pus filled ingrown hairs can appear as fluid-filled bumps. Yellow pus or green pus is an indication of an infection going on. Mostly, people describe them as white bumps on vagina or pubic area. Avoid popping, squeezing or breaking them even if they are itchy. You will prevent the spread of the infection.
g) Hard lump
Genital lumps should never be ignored. While a bump deep under the skin can result from a stubborn ingrown hair follicle, some lumps can be a sign of cancer. A lump generally feels like ball under skin. It can be movable, painful or painless.
Most hard lumps in the pubic area are caused by sebaceous cyst and not ingrown hair. In rare circumstances do ingrowing hairs dry up and form a hard lump. Scarring can also cause keloids, which present as hard lumps on the bikini area.
Hard lumps that keep growing should be checked and treated immediately because they could be a sign of another serious illness. Other symptoms include the following:
- Swollen lymph nodes in the groin due to inflammation and irritation caused by a bacterial infection.
- Blood filled bumps that hurt.
- Scabs on bumps and swollen pimples.
- For some cases, you might not be able to see the hair follicle that is embedding under the skin.
Ingrown pubic hair cyst
Ingrown hair cysts are cysts that form on the hair follicle. Such a cyst is also called a trichilemmal cyst. It is easy to confuse a hard ingrown hair cyst with a hard sebaceous cyst.
Cysts on hair follicles form from the fluid surrounding the hair follicle that is curving and growing deep into the skin.
Embedded hair follicles can easily turn into cysts, an abscess or boil especially with an infection such as folliculitis on the hair follicle.
The cyst will start forming like a pubic pimple, usually on the vaginal labia, penis shaft or even scrotum. So, is it an ingrown hair or cyst on the bikini line? The easiest way to get a comparison and know the difference is to look at the pictures below.
- A boil or cyst can be painful, swollen but not movable.
- Skin cysts may feel like lumps that move under the skin.
- Cysts from ingrown hair will have either a red or black dot in the center while a normal cyst is likely to be consistent.
- Both cysts can be surgically removed or drained if they are pus-filled. Embedded hair bumps may also bleed.
Infected ingrown pubic hair
What does an infected ingrown hair follicle look like? What causes the infection and does it spread? Fungal and bacterial infections cause ingrown hair infection. The infection starts on razor bumps that occur after shaving the groin area or bikini line.
- As already discussed, ingrown hairs can become itchy. Scratching, picking and squeezing spots causes breakage on the skin.
- Bacteria and fungi enter the skin through the small cracks that result from the scratching.
So what do they look like when infected? Normally, the infected cysts appear as raised red spots on the skin. But when infected, they become painful pus-filled sores. You can also describe them as boil like sores that are painful.
With a bad infection in the pubic area, the spots can leave holes that drain blood or pus. You can also get redness, inflammation, pustules and cysts. Badly infected genital ingrown hair cysts often have yellowish green pus.
Remedies for ingrown hair infections do not involve removal. Attempting to remove an infected hair follicle is likely to cause damage to your skin.
Scarring and dark marks will become prominent and visible on your genital area. In case the infection spreads to other parts, see a dermatologist as soon as possible for proper treatment.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and staph infections can be dangerous in the pubic area. MRSA, being resistant to antibiotics, can cause major damage on the skin. If you get a lesion from ingrown pubic hair that don’t heal and keep spreading, visit your doctor immediately.
Is it ingrown hair cyst or herpes, genital warts or STD?
It is normal to be confused when it comes to distinguishing cysts from ingrown hair from genital herpes and genital warts. Herpes and warts are STDs and can produce bumps that appear as ingrown hair.
Genital herpes symptoms include small blisters that “break open and produce “raw, painful sores that scab over.” [WebMD]. These scabs usually heal within a few weeks. HSV genital herpes can also be accompanied by symptom that look like flu, fever and painful, swollen lymph nodes.
Genital warts on the other hand are usually fairly small lumps that are flesh colored. They have tops that look like cauliflower.
These can be difficult to get rid of fast. The bumps won’t go away easily, may keep coming back and can last for months or years. If left untreated, they will keep growing and can be unsightly.
How to Get Rid of Ingrown Pubic Hair Fast
With remedies, topical creams, laser treatment, surgery and proper care, you can stop, treat and fix ingrown hairs on the pubic region. There are different ways you can use and most of them will depend on the cause, severity of the problem, whether infected or not etc.
If you have ingrown hair on labia and vagina, penis and balls, the skin here can be sensitive and gentle methods should be used to remove and treat pubic ingrown hair.
Other than knowing how to treat ingrown hair on the pubic area will help relieve the menace, you need to be able to stop them in the first place. You can stop ingrown hair by using sharp razors when shaving, treating the skin after shaving and shaving hair in the direction of hair growth. If you get the bumps, here are the treatments used.
1. Antibiotics e.g. Neosporin
Antibiotic medications come in if you have an infection. Huge and deep ingrown pubic hairs that are infected will need treatment. Antibiotics are prescribed by your doctor. These include Neosporin and polysporin.
In most cases, topical antibiotic creams are used to treat infected hair follicles. However, the bikini area can be sensitive and your doctor might recommend oral antibiotics or both oral and topical antibiotic gel and creams for treatment.
2. Anti-inflammatory creams
Itching is a major cause of infections. To stop the itching, anti-itch treatments may be used. Anti-inflammatory creams, usually steroid creams are used.
An example is 1 percent hydrocortisone cream. This will relieve and top the itching and allow the pubic ingrown hair to go away on its own.
3. Surgery treatment for ingrown hair cysts
Ingrown hairs usually come out on their own and the bump heals with time. But when the curved hair won’t come out and causes constant irritation, dermatologists may use surgery to remove ingrown pubic hair trapped under the skin.
The problem with surgery is that it usually leaves a scar, dark marks or hyperpigmentation. There’s also a risk of infection. Do not operate on yourself as this can lead to infections in the genital area.
4. Tea tree oil home remedy
Natural treatments can also help cure ingrown hair infections. Tea tree oil has antibiotic properties. You can use it as a topical antibiotic to get rid of the bacterial infections on the bikini line.
Dilute a little tea tree oil with water. Apply on the ingrown hair bumps in the genital region. Allow a few minutes and rinse off. Do this twice a day for faster healing. Note that tea tree oil can burn the skin. Avoid using it if you have a sensitive skin.
Other home remedies for ingrown hair include Epsom salt scrubs, aloe vera, benzoyl peroxide and rubbing alcohol. Magnesium sulfate is also used as a treatment.
5. Exfoliate to fix ingrown hair on bikini line
Another way to fix ingrown hair on the pubic area is to exfoliate dead skin cells. Exfoliation reduces obstruction from dead skin cells and allows hair to grow back out easily.
To exfoliate, take regular warm showers and scrub gently using a loofah or piece of cloth that can remove dead skin cells. Exfoliate before shaving and gently after shaving the bikini line to prevent ingrown hair. Other exfoliants include salicylic acid but be careful using it on the genital area including on vaginal labia, scrotum, penis shaft or near head for males, inner thighs and near anus.
Ingrown pubic hair removal
Removing ingrown pubic hair is a solution you should consider, but only if you have just a few shave bumps. Proper care and extracting can be a solution when you do not have a recurring problem. Here’s how to remove ingrown hair in the pubic region.
- Apply 1% hydrocortisone cream on the bumps for a few days to help reduce the inflammation.
- Apply warm compresses on the affected area three times a day. Do this for 15 minutes each time. This will make it easy to pop or lance the shave bump.
- Wash and inspect the area daily until you are able to see the bent hair follicle. You can use anti-acne medication after every wash.
- Sterilize tweezers using alcohol.
- Use a sterile pin to pick and open the bump.
- If the ingrown hair has turned into a cyst with pus or is blood-filled, lance it first to drain it.
- Slip the pointed end of the tweezers under the curled hair and pull it up gently.
- Do not uproot the hair.
- Once you remove the ingrowing hair from beneath the skin, treat the area to prevent any infections.
Antibiotics to try are Bacitracin or any other over-the-counter antibiotic ointment.
How to prevent ingrown pubic hair or stop ingrown hairs
How do you stop ingrown hair in the crotch area? Mayo Clinic recommends that the most successful way to prevent embedded hairs is to avoid shaving, waxing and tweezing. But that doesn’t work for pubic hair. Here are tips to help reduce, stop and prevent ingrown hairs on bikini line.
- Always take warm showers before shaving. You can also wash the skin with warm water to open up pores. Always apply a mild cleanser in the process.
- Use shaving gels and lubricating creams. These will soften hair and make the shaving easy.
- Use new sharp razors every time you shave your pubic area.
- Shave in the direction of hair growth.
- After each stroke, rinse the blade to get rid of debris.
- Rinse well after shaving and apply a good moisturizer.
Other than observing these prevention tips, your choice of hair removal methods will help. You should try to use an electric razor clipper and avoid shaving too close to the skin. Chemical depilatories or hair removers are recommended but test first to avoid irritation. If you suffer from excessive hair growth, try a prescription cream that decreases hair growth. An example is Vaniqa (eflornithine).
Video on Ingrown Hair Lancing, Popping and Extraction
Sources and References
- Mayo Clinic: What causes ingrown hair after shaving?
- Mums Net: Ingrowing hair in c-section scarline
- Med-Health: Pus Filled Bump in Vagina
- MedHelp: Sore, swollen lump on inner thigh by bikini line
- HealthLine: What Are the Symptoms of Genital Warts?
- WebMD: Common Symptoms of Genital Herpes
- Folliculitis Clinic: Surgical removal of ingrown hair