Have you been noticing some weird bumps on your face or skin that are a bit different from typical pimples or hives? Well, there are high chances that they could be ingrown hairs.
While the problems caused by ingrown hair are mostly aesthetic, they can also cause unpleasant itching, irritation, or pain. In some circumstances, they can also become infected. Ingrown hairs can also leave scars, particularly if they have been scratched.
What Are Ingrown Hairs?
These are hairs that curl up or grow sideways beneath the skin as a result of hair breaking unevenly. One of the top causes of ingrown hairs is shaving curved hair follicles. Sharp, broken hairs tend to grow at strange angles and often need help getting through the skin.
Although they can appear anywhere on the body where hair grows, they are common in areas that are often subjected to shaving such as the face and neck, armpits, legs, and pubic areas.
You can tell that you have an ingrown hair problem when you see bumps that look like acne on your skin. The red bump is caused by the skin reacting with the ingrown hair.
Can laser hair removal help you get rid of ingrown hairs? Let’s find out.
What Is Laser Hair Removal?
Laser removal is a popular non-invasive cosmetic procedure, which involves the use of laser light to reduce the growth of hair in the body. It entails targeting a concentrated beam of light at the melanin, which is simply a type of pigment in your hair. The light converts to heat, which in turn damages that hair follicle sacks responsible for producing hair. As a result, hair growth in the targeted areas is inhibited or delayed.
One of the main benefits of the procedure is the fact that it helps you eliminate unwanted hair without damaging your skin. The process is also fast though recovery time tends to depend on the area being targeted. It is also safe, especially when carried by a dermatologist or a trained expert.
Laser hair removal can be done on any part of the body though the main areas where it is commonly used include arms, legs, chest, shoulders, upper lip, chin, neck, back, armpits and bikini line.
Can It Get Rid Of Ingrown Hairs?
As aforementioned, laser treatment produces high energy light, which then converts to heat energy. Where shaving or waxing breaks hair unevenly, the heat can be targeted to the source—the follicle. The heat burns the follicle and doesn’t give the stubborn hair another chance to curl up or grow sideways. Instead, it goes cleanly through the skin pores.
The laser also slowly gets rid of any potential stubborn hair. As you treat a given area of the skin, the hair will tend to grow thinner, finer, and may stop altogether. You will not get ingrown hair if normal hair cannot grow in the first place! While it is not a quick fix, regularly scheduled laser treatments can help stop hair growth in targeted areas.
How to Prepare For Laser Removal of Ingrown Hairs
If you’ve decided to undergo laser hair removal, you need to prepare yourself adequately before fixing an appointment with your dermatologist. Here is a quick checklist:
- Avoid exposing your skin to the sun as much as possible for 3-6 weeks before the procedure. You also need to avoid the sun for 6 weeks after the procedure
- Avoid cosmetic products that can irritate your skin
- Avoid anti-inflammatory drugs or any drug that might increase your risk of bleeding
- Avoid the procedure if you have skin infections.
- Pregnant women shouldn’t undergo the procedure.
What to Expect During the Procedure
Since laser hair removal is not a complicated procedure, local anesthesia isn’t required. The dermatologist will just press the handle of the laser against your skin. You may feel a little sting immediately the light pulse is activated.
The laser light penetrates the skin and the melanin pigments absorb the light energy. The melanin is heated (via thermal effect) and separated from the dermis. The resulting liaison is then removed using sterile gauze.
After the procedure, there might be light crust and redness of the skin, which disappears with 5-7 days. If you would wish to undergo another treatment, it is advisable to wait for 4 to 6 weeks.
As aforementioned, the treated area will be red and sore. To ease any discomfort and speed up your recovery, you can put ice on the treated area. Generally, your skin will completely calm overnight and you are allowed to wear make-up and use standard skincare products the next day.
Common side effects are swelling and redness, which clears in 24-48 hours. Other less frequent side effects include changes in pigmentation and appearance of scabs. However, all the mentioned sides are very rare and tend to clear off after a few days.
After the treatment, it is advisable to take a few precautions, including:
- Avoid direct exposure to the sun for 3-6 weeks. If you must go out, use sunscreens with SPF of 50+
- Avoid tanning bed for 10-15 days post-treatment
- Avoid applying soap directly on the treated areas
- If the procedure was done on your face, avoid unnecessary rubbing for 1-3 days after the treatment.
Laser hair removal offers an excellent way of removing ingrown hairs. Like any other procedure, however, you should consult a dermatologist or a trained expert before undergoing the procedure. It is also important to note that the procedure isn’t cheap—a single session may cost up to $500 depending on the clinic you go to and the expertise of the dermatologist that you decide to hire. Hopefully, the above tips have shed some light on what to expect of the procedure.