An ingrown hair is a stubborn hair that, for whatever reason, grows the wrong way. As it digs into your skin, it often creates a cyst. This may appear as a giant, yellowish pimple or a hard lump just under the skin. If you’re struggling with these cysts, don’t worry. You’re not alone. There are reliable home treatments available along with professional techniques to handle particularly difficult cases. A few adjustments to your skincare routine may even help you avoid ingrown hairs in the future.
The first and most important part of home treatment is cleanliness. Keep the area around the cyst clean and dry. A cyst isn’t necessarily infected, even if it is large or hard, but they are particularly vulnerable to bacteria. Even shaving around an ingrown hair cyst increases the risk of infection, so it’s best to alter your hygiene routine until the cyst goes away. Remember, most cysts fade on their own, and the core of treatment revolves around protecting them until your body naturally eliminates them.
To speed recovery, apply a warm compress to the cyst every day for at least ten minutes. This may help draw the ingrown hair to the surface. It also soothes the cyst. To help prevent an infection, apply antibacterial ointments to the area of the cyst. Tea tree oil is a natural solution, but you can also use over the counter antibacterial ointments.
Whatever you do, do not pick, pop, or squeeze the cysts. This doesn’t actually help remove the sac under the skin. It will likely grow back, and popping a cyst makes it even more vulnerable to infection.
If your cyst becomes painful, inflamed, or simply does not fade over a period of weeks, it’s time to see the doctor. At this point, the problem is the infection rather than the ingrown hair itself, and you probably can’t fix it on your own. Your doctor can surgically remove the cyst in a very simple procedure with a local anesthetic. They may also prescribe an antibiotic to combat the infection.
Ultimately, the best ingrown hair cyst is one that never grows. You probably can’t prevent all ingrown hairs, but you can stop a lot of them. If you don’t exfoliate often and you frequently develop cysts from ingrown hairs, then you need to adjust your habits. Take the time to exfoliate, particularly before you shave. Never shave irritated skin. When skin is irritated, it often swells, and even a tiny amount of swelling can trap hairs. Use lots of shaving cream or oil, and only shave with a sharp razor. Your skin is particularly susceptible to ingrown hairs after shaving because the tip of your hair has a sharper tip than usual. It’s also much closer to your skin. So, if your skin gets a shaving rash, the minor inflammation may trap and turn back those short hairs.
As scary looking as ingrown hair cysts may be, they are rarely anything to worry about. You have the tools to treat them at home, and you can even prevent the vast majority of them in the future. Just remember not to pick, poke, or pop cysts on your own. Focus on preventing infection, and consider how your skincare routine can prevent future incidents.