They say beauty knows no pain. There are numerous ways to remove hair for women; for men it is more limited. But this simple act of grooming can come with consequences. Healthy Living finds out more about the pesky and unsightly ingrown hairs.
Marleni Cuellar, Reporting
When it comes to hair removal, we all have our preference. Most men stick with shaving; while for women our options are far more diverse.
Dr. Ines Mendez Moguel , Dermatologist
“When we are talking about hair removal we have a variety. We have what we call the temporary hair removal and those will cover things like shaving, waxing threading, sugaring. We will have the permanent hair reduction and we have the chemical which is Vanica which is a new medication approved by the FDA, we will have the permanent hair reduction that uses the laser and the permanent hair removal which is the electrolysis.”Shaving, waxing and threading although temporary are more common and cheaper. The technique itself is usually self taught and most of the time a ‘smooth’ process. But there are some bumps in road when it comes to hair removal; the most common being ingrown hair and folliculitis: infection of the follicle.
Dr. Ines Mendez Moguel
All these methods of hair removal will have their pros and cons. So from the shaving that is the more common and practiced one will have side effects where it can be short or long term up to the laser and electrolysis. The repetitive shaving can also trigger the hair to grow in. and this in turn will cause what we call pseudo-folliculitis which means a false folliculitis—it will look like an infection that is not really infectious. The hair would have grown either in or on the side of the skin. I would say that the most common complication that we see are both the in grown hair and folliculitis. So the folliculitis is the bacterial infection of the skin and in grown hair is may lead to folliculitis but the treatment will be different.”According to Dr Moguel, the repetitive removal and the method of extraction is the reason for the ingrown hairs and infections.
“The repetitive shaving in patients; what happens is that insult of wither plucking or shaving will damage the hair and when the hair is growing out of the hair root, it will twist and either go sideways into the skin or grow actually inside. So what the patient will have is redness, irritation, a bump, but it will always be related to a hair root. The difference with the real infection and the non infection of the in growing hair is that in the infection you will have more irritation, redness. In some cases you will see puss and it will not go away. When it is mild folliculitis, maybe with an antibiotic in a couple a days it will go. But if it is a serious infection, it will not go away unless the doctor will give an oral antibiotic.”She also encourages Belizeans, especially men, to pay close attention to any bump that may appear after shaving as there a condition that mimics an ingrown hair and can cause hair loss.
Dr. Ines Mendez Moguel
“In Belize, we do have a condition called folliculitis decalvan, which is a condition that happens on the face of males on the beard area or the back of the neck. And what it will have is pimple but the cause is totally different. This is a type of hair loss caused by a scar—meaning that the patient will get an infection locally that will destroy the hair root and it would look similar, but it is not the same. I have had patients. I have had patients that have come to me with a very advance disease and it was not in grown hair. And in some of those cases we already had permanent hair loss. The most important is that when you start to have bumps, get attention immediately and the doctor will be able to tell whether it is an in grown hair, folliculitis or something more serious that will need other treatment.”Dr. Moguel does not advise people to try to pluck or squeeze on any bumps that may appear post hair removal. Instead, monitor closely and if it persists, then check in with your health professional. If ingrown hairs are a continuous problem, then it may be time to change your method of removal.
“The most important is to stop whatever insult is being done to the hair. So we ask the patient not to shave for a couple of months. One of the things that we would recommend in severe cases is laser that will cause less irritation to the root. The most important thing is that when the hair is growing in, you have to leave it alone for a little while, let it rest and then the hair will be able to come out normal. There are different causes of infections and folliculitis whether by local or systemic infections. But if you have a bump that is not going after five, seven days, you should see a doctor. It may not be anything serious but it could be something that needs treatment.”