Ingrown Hair Cysts: Treatments, Causes & Symptoms
We all know that getting an ingrown hair isn’t exactly a welcomed occurrence, but what can be even worse is the development of an ingrown hair cyst, which can cause clients pain, irritation, and just be plain uncomfortable!
As professionals, it is our duty to wax in the best possible way to help avoid ingrown hairs, but our responsibility doesn't stop there. We also need to fully inform our clients of ‘post-waxing best practices' that they should be implementing at home to prevent ingrowns themselves.
In this guide, we’ll be discussing all things ingrown hair cysts, including what they are, symptoms, and treatment.
Table of Contents
- Ingrown Hair: Causes
- What Is An Ingrown Hair Cyst?
- What Does An Infected Ingrown Hair Cyst Look Like?
- How Do You Get Rid Of An Ingrown Hair Cyst?
- Should I Pop An Ingrown Hair Cyst?
- How Will Your Doctor Treat The Cyst?
- Ingrown Hair Cyst Treatment at Home
- Ingrown Hair Cyst Prevention
Note to Estheticians
Your clients must understand the difference between a typical ingrown hair and when it has graduated into a cyst. It is wise to inform them of proper procedures on how to treat it and remind them of what NOT to do if they have a cyst compared to an ingrown hair. If they ever experience this after their hair removal appointment, they will feel prepared because their lovely esthetician prepped them for it.
This way, if they ever experience this after their hair removal appointment, they will feel prepared because their lovely esthetician prepped them for it!
Ingrown Hair: Causes
Before we discuss ingrown hair cysts, let’s begin with ingrown hairs. As a professional, you’re probably pretty familiar with the occurrence, but it’s important to have this kind of information on hand to relay to your clients, who might not be as familiar.
Ingrown hairs occur when hair fragments left behind by hair removal processes grow back into the skin surface. Ingrown hairs can cause inflamed, tiny bumps that can be uncomfortable and easily irritated.
Ingrown hairs occur frequently in those with coarse hair types, and especially those with coarser facial hair.
But what causes ingrown hairs? Ingrown hairs can result from a variety of factors, including improper hair removal techniques, like waxing or shaving in the wrong direction of hair growth, or existing skin conditions like having dry skin or dehydrated skin that’s easily inflamed from hair removal.
Those with sensitive skin can be particularly vulnerable due to their skin’s already easily-irritable nature. Whether you’re waxing, shaving, or using another method of hair removal, you’re going to want to make sure you’re practicing proper pre-wax care (by applying Starpil’s Original Pre-Wax Gel!), or by exfoliating and moisturizing prior to hair removal.
If you’re shaving, the hair fragments caused by razor can frequently causes improper hair regrowth, and result in ingrown hairs. Additionally, improper shaving techniques or using blunt razors can easily result in razor burn or ingrowns, especially when having to go over the same area twice with an old razor. This can be easily prevented by either using new, sharp razors and proper technique, or by avoiding shaving entirely in favor of more effective hair removal methods.
On top of the skin type and sensitivity levels that can play into someone’s risk of developing ingrown hairs, what you wear following a fresh hair removal service or practice also heavily plays in to how your skin might react, or whether or not you’ll develop ingrown hair growth.
Following any hair removal procedure, whether it’s waxing, shaving, or something different, you need to make sure you’re practicing proper post-wax care.
Apply Starpil’s hydrating and mositurizing Original Post-Wax Lotion and Post-Wax Oil to kickstart skin recovery. Additionally, make sure to avoid irritating skin further, and allow skin to breathe by avoiding wearing tight clothing or fabrics that are very stifling.
Ingrown hairs can result from any hair removal process, whether you’re shaving, waxing, or using another process. Though you’re most at risk when shaving, if you haven’t practiced the proper pre and post-wax care routine or having additionally inflamed skin from causing friction to your fresh wax, ingrown can unfortunately occur after waxing. However, these ingrowns are easily preventable with the right education.
READ MORE: 7 Ways to Prevent & Treat Ingrown Hairs
Thankfully, ingrown hairs are also extremely treatable if they occur, and usually even go away on their own. For ingrowns that stick around, however, there are many treatment options.
24-48 hours following a wax, make sure to apply Starpil’s Original Ingrown Hair Serum Spray to sanitize skin and absolve it of any ingrowns. Additionally, apply warm compresses to the area to coax out these hairs and clear pores. Make sure to cleanse and exfoliate regularly, and try to let the hair go away on its own without further inflaming the area.
What Is An Ingrown Hair Cyst?
An ingrown hair is when a hair has been trapped under the skin and continues to grow downward instead of upward in a typical growth pattern. This ingrown progresses into an ingrown hair cyst when a substance, often fluid, builds over time and gets trapped under the skin in a sac formation.
These types of cysts can sometimes be filled with air, skin cells, or even keratin.
Cysts rear their ugly head (just kidding, cysts don’t have a head) as a large bump underneath the skin.
This is a tell-tale sign difference between an ingrown hair and an ingrown hair cyst. The ingrown hairs will create smaller bumps with a head where you can sometimes even see the actual hair beneath the surface. A cyst will be much larger in size and have no head on them. The actual ingrown hair is now far deeper underneath the skin and not accessible to rid yourself.
These cysts can present themselves anywhere on your body that hair removal is done, most often occurring in the pubic region.
Cysts can often become quite painful, and because of the amount of fluid trapped under the skin with the ingrown hair, it most likely won’t go away on its own. Ingrown hairs generally do, but once it progresses into a cyst, it would be wise to confer with your doctor and get their opinion on what to do.
What if you think it has now graduated to an infected cyst?
What Does An Infected Ingrown Hair Cyst Look Like?
An infected ingrown hair cyst looks like an excessively red bump, with extra redness and swelling surrounding the lump on the skin. It has a warm feeling and can cause intense pain.
Pictured is a regular cyst, which is not to be confused with an ingrown hair cyst. They may look similar, but have different origins and treatments! Make sure you recognize which is which prior to treatment.
If you or your clients notice these signs of infection or the look or feel of the cyst has changed in any way, it is most advisable to go to your dermatologist to get it checked out. If there is an infection, they will best know how to determine what kind of infection you are dealing with and how to prevent it from spreading and becoming worse.
At this stage, it would not be uncommon for a doctor to prescribe oral or topical antibiotics to help with the infection; they can then discuss a plan of action on how to remove the cyst entirely.
So let's say you have this sizable red bump underneath your skin that is a little painful and less than attractive. It's not infected, but it's still there. How can you get rid of this stubborn cyst?!
How Do You Get Rid Of An Ingrown Hair Cyst?
Once your ingrown hair has progressed to a cyst, anything you can do to get rid of it pretty much comes off the table. It may...MAY...dissipate on its own, but it is unlikely. In order to completely get rid of the cyst, you will need to go to a doctor for removal.
Avoid picking, cutting, squeezing, scratching, tweezing, or just plain touching that cyst at all costs.
You heard me!
No matter how tempting it may be. Because of the accumulation of a different substance (air, fluid, skin cells, etc.) deep under the skin, the ingrown hair has now been pushed far down and will not be accessible to you. Even with exfoliation and warm compresses, that ingrown hair will not be close enough to the surface to remove.
Should I Pop An Ingrown Hair Cyst?
No! Never pop an ingrown hair cyst. Remember, cysts do not have heads like ingrown hairs do. If you squeeze or pick at the cyst, you could end up with an infection or scarring, which are roads you do not want to go down. This means- no popping.
If you are looking for a measure of relief from the cyst until you get to your doctor, use warm compresses to help alleviate any pain. Warm compresses every day for a few minutes a day can possibly help the cyst to drain slowly on its own.
Be sure you are not doing any hair removal on or directly around the cyst. Waxing or shaving the cyst can make matters worse and prevent it from getting better.
Give your skin a little break and time to breathe and heal.
Nonetheless, what happens once you do make it to the doctor’s office?
How Will Your Doctor Treat The Cyst?
Your doctor will use their discretion if it is necessary to remove the cyst.
Suppose there is no pain associated with the cyst, it is small enough where the doctor believes it will go away on its own, or there is no infection; your doctor may give some advantageous advice on how to manage the cyst or reduce it yourself rather than removing it.
If the doctor deems it better to be removed, according to The Orlando Dermatology Center, they will use a sterile instrument and make a minute cut to release the contents of the cyst and the ingrown hair that started it all.
Afterward, they may prescribe antibiotics or a topical steroid medication to reduce inflammation and redness.
Ingrown Hair Cyst Treatment At Home
In minor cases of ingrown hair cysts, you may not even be able to tell that one has formed, and it may just appear as a more inflamed ingrown hair. For these types of cysts, at-home treatment is certainly a great option to stop it from developing further, and to calm the ingrown.
There are many at-home treatment options for these small cysts. Like with a regular ingrown, apply a warm compress to the effected area to calm the skin and open the pore. This will allow the hair to gradually become less engorged in the skin, and will also calm the inflamed area.
If your cysts progresses and becomes a concern, or if you feel pain, discomfort, or indications that the area has become infected, consult your doctor for additional treatment and suitable recommendations.
Ingrown Hair Cyst Prevention
Since you yourself can’t do much to treat an ingrown hair cyst at home after it has already developed (leave that for the doctors, ladies), our focus, and our client’s focus, should be on preventing ingrown hairs to ultimately prevent one from turning into a cyst.
For seven fantastic suggestions on how to treat and prevent ingrown hairs, consult our complete guide.
Two key preventative measures to always keep in mind to avoid getting an ingrown hair are: exfoliation and using an ingrown hair serum post hair removal. As we stated previously, it’s imperative to the prevention of ingrown hairs that you practice the best pre and post-wax care routine possible.
Prior to a waxing service, always make sure clients are using Starpil’s Original Pre-Wax Gel to cleanse and exfoliate the skin, and also make sure they’re applying Starpil’s Original Post-Wax Lotion and Post-Wax Oil to lock in moisture, hydration, and to speed up skin’s recovery process.
Remind your clients to always exfoliate 2 to 3 days before your waxing appointment and around 2 to 3 days after waxing and continually doing so after that. Exfoliation will prevent any dead skin cells from creating a barrier for the hair to grow out of, and it will prevent an excess buildup of skin cells that can create a cyst under the skin.
Don’t neglect using our powerhouse of a hair puller Starpil’s Original Ingrown Hair Serum Spray to help remove those pesky hairs before they create problems for you! The serum will not only help prevent them after waxing, but it will also help treat ingrowns by physically aiding in pulling out the hair. This should definitely be in all of our personal beauty arsenals!
Overall, prevent your ingrowns from occurring. Period. We don’t like them and don’t want them! But certainly, if you do get one, take measures to treat the ingrown hair BEFORE they turn into a cyst. You’ll be so glad you did.
Ingrown hairs are relatively common to get from any type of hair removal. However, without proper prevention and treatment of ingrown hairs, you could quickly have an ingrown hair cyst on your hands.
Cysts caused by ingrown hairs are much more painful and take longer to heal and get rid of. If you attempt to squeeze, pick, or tweeze the cyst yourself, you could end up causing an infection and scarring.
The cysts are best treated by doctors when they perform a safe and minimally invasive removal. Plus, seeing your doctor can also help treat any possible infections. Always keep an eye on and monitor your ingrown hairs.
Focus on preventing them entirely, and you may be fortunate enough to say that you have never gotten an ingrown hair cyst!