Ingrown Hair Problem?

Ingrown hairs are a common problem that dermatology can treat. The medical name for ingrown hair is folliculitis, which indicates there is actual inflammation at the site of the hair follicle. Many times, inflammation is created at the bulb region, or area below the skin which then prevents the hair from protruding out of the opening at the skin surface. This creates a “trapping” of the hair that can then lead to additional inflammation.

Folliculitis can occur on the scalp or on the body. If the inflammation at the level of the follicle is being caused by something such as mechanical friction or rubbing (an example would be a hat or helmet which could induce inflammation at the site where friction is occurring), then removal of the offending agent can be a great remedy. Many times, men note that when they shave their beard region, they will induce this inflammation. By not shaving, and simply clipping their facial area, the inflammation will not occur and they will not require the need of a medical doctor.

In other cases of folliculitis, there is no stimulus or inciting factor. The inflammation simply occurs for no apparent reason. These patients become frustrated when they learn that there is nothing they could have done to prevent the issue, and that they will likely continue to deal with this ongoing condition. Often times in the case of folliculitis, these patients are instructed that there are definitely treatments to control the situation, but there is no cure.

Dermatologic treatments for folliculitis include topical and/or oral anti-inflammatory prescriptions. Sometimes these anti-inflammatory agents include antibiotics which are, in and of themselves, anti-inflammatory. Sometimes topical steroids are used for this condition. In patients who have diffuse ingrown hairs that are uncontrolled with traditional anti-inflammatory therapy, there may be need for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory systemic agents. These can be administered by a dermatologist.

For some patients who wish to have a better solution than long term therapy to control the folliculitis, a great option is laser hair removal. Although all laser hair removal is, in truth, actually laser hair reduction, this is simply all a patient with folliculitis needs to clear the condition. By treating with a laser, the thickness or diameter of the hair is reduced through a series of treatments to become a finer and lighter hair. At some point, these hairs which have been treated are so fine that they either do not appear to exist, or the simply do not get trapped under the skin, thus leading to more inflammation.

Dr. Ellen Turner, Dallas dermatologist, is an expert at treating folliculitis or ingrown hair. If you are in need of a dermatologist, please schedule an appointment with her office at 214-373-7546.