Ingrown Hair in the Armpit

Overview

The armpit is one of the most common places for women to get ingrown hairs, according to the Mayo Clinic. This condition is caused when hair that has been shaved, waxed or tweezed begins to curl around and grow through the skin. The only way to ensure that you won’t get ingrown hairs is to let your armpit hair grow out and not shave it.

Symptoms

Symptoms of an ingrown armpit hair are caused by the body reacting to the hair growing into the skin, just like it does for any foreign object. It causes the area to become irritated. The first sign of an ingrown armpit hair is usually a red bump that may hurt. The bump may resemble acne or a pimple. It may have a pus pocket on it. In some cases the bump may itch.

Treatment

Once you notice an ingrown armpit hair, you should begin to wear loose clothing to allow the ingrown hair to get air. You should wash the area often to keep sweat, dirt and bacteria away from the area. Once the area is clean, you can apply over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream to minimize the itching. Do this before you put deodorant or antiperspirant on so the hydrocortisone is applied directly to the skin.

Complications

Ingrown hairs have three main complications associated with them: scarring, hyperpigmentation and bacterial infections. The risk of scarring and bacterial infections is increased if you scratch the ingrown hair. You can minimize this risk by applying a triple antibiotic ointment if you notice a break in the skin near the ingrown hair. Hyperpigmentation is most common in people with dark skin.

Prevention/Solution

You can minimize your risk of getting an ingrown armpit hair by soaking your armpit in warm water before shaving. When you shave, use shaving gel and a new single bladed razor. When you raise your arm to shave, you should shave downward or in the direction your hair grows.

Warning

If there isn’t a visible hair loop visible above the skin, the hair is embedded. If this happens or if you get severe, chronic ingrown hairs, a trip to the doctor or dermatologist may be warranted. There are prescription medications, such as antibiotics, corticosteroids and retinoids, as well other treatments, including laser therapy that may help your condition.

About this Author

Casey Holley is a medical writer with more than 10 years of experience in the health and fitness industries. She has worked as a nutrition consultant and has written numerous health and wellness articles, for various online publications. She has also served in the Navy, and is currently pursing a business administration degree.