March 11, 2014

Skincare Q&A: Ingrown Hair Madness

As an online esthetician, I spend many hours answering questions about adult acneingrown hair problems, rosacea, or general skin sensitivities. So! I thought that I would feature a skincare Q&A on my blog to address some of these issues.

There are some questions that are sent to me via email or through ChickRx, a site where anyone can ask questions that relate to various lifestyle topics and experts (like myself) can offer valuable advice or suggestions. If you have any questions that you would like to ask (or have featured on the blog), please don't hesitate to speak out in the comments below! If you would rather have a question be answered privately, I am always available by email.

This week's Skincare Q&A features concerns about how to treat and prevent ingrown hairs and dark spots along the bikini line right in time for the warmer weather.


"I attacked an ingrown hair on my bikini line with needles and now have a horrible bruise or scar for weeks, how can I get rid of it?"

The bruise, of course, is from all the squeezing, and that can be taken care of with warm compresses and three times daily massaging lightly with Arnica oil for about three days.

The scarring, which is what we call Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (or PIH), is the skin's response to having been traumatized. It's the exact same mechanism as what happens when the sun damages your skin. In essence, your skin created a massive tan as part of the healing process. If left to go away by itself, this dark mark would take as long to go away as a really dark tan.  Sometimes, however, the damage to the cells pigmented by melanin can be bad enough for the pigmentation to be permanent. 

So, there are several things that need to be done.  One, wash with exfoliating spa gloves and any acne face wash.  Two, make sure your underwear has no lace and is not snug or binding.  The fit of your underwear is probably what caused the problem in the first place.  Three, to prevent further damage, apply a Salicylic Acid Gel that penetrates well and has several soothing and calming ingredients to compliment the Sal Acid.


"Do you have any tips or advice to get rid of the constantly occurring blackhead-like 'pimples' in between thighs?"

As an expert in Adult Acne, and having done hundreds and hundreds of brazilian bikini waxes over the past 17 years, I have seen this happen most often to women of varying weights but whose thighs tended to rub together when walking.  As the thighs get larger, the skin stretches, loses elasticity, and pores get stretched as well.  

With extra oil being produced as part of the reaction of the skin to chafing, the skin also gets dehydrated at the same time.  This means the treatment would be a little tricky - if a drying agent is used to address the excess oil inside pores, the skin will get even more dehydrated, and if the wrong lotion is used, the pores will get clogged.

The best solution is to apply a totally non-clogging hydrating and exfoliating alpha hydroxy acid lotion, after showering with exfoliating spa gloves and an exfoliating wash.  Friction and pressure would then be cushioned by means of an anti-inflammatory body powder called FerroRosa FrictionFix®.


"I wax and epilate my bikini line, but I'm having blemishes and dark spots because of the ingrown hairs. I took a break from waxing and I started exfoliating that area, but nothing seems to help."

Ingrown hairs on the bikini line actually have more to do with pressure and friction than anything else, believe it or not.  Even before you look for a remedy, there are a few things you'll need to change in order to treat the problem.

1) You must wear 100% cotton underwear that covers the entire affected area, no matter what fabric you're wearing. That goes even more so with jeans - you should NEVER wear thong underwear with jeans or any other material that is textured.

2) Never wear underwear with lace or mesh at all.  Lace and mesh create friction, which causes the worst ingrowns.

3) There is no need to ever apply any moisturizers in that area.  Your perspiration is enough - the vast majority of body lotions anywhere in the world have pore clogging ingredients in their base.

4) Exfoliate with spa gloves every time you shower.

5) An anti-inflammatory acne clearing gel used after your shower will help calm pores and irritation.  Then, an anti-inflammatory, healing body powder will help absorb moisture and protect against the effects of friction and pressure.


"How do I prevent the red bumpy ingrown hairs on my upper legs?"

They might not actually be ingrowns.  Even if you can occasionally squeeze one out and see a hair, trapped hair might not be the cause of the bumps.  It could be you suffer from a condition known as Keratosis Pilaris.  You'd be able to tell by the fact that the bumps are small, red, prickly, wide spread and constant. If this is the case, here's what to do:

Wash with exfoliating body gloves with an exfoliating wash every shower.  After your shower, slather on a lotion loaded with ceramides (CeraVe is a good choice) or a unique exfoliating, hydrating lotion designed for exactly this problem. 

Make sure you shower after every workout.  It's also a good idea to use an anti-inflammatory, moisture-absorbing body powder underneath tight jeans or any trousers made of a textured fabric.  It's also important that the water temperature in your shower is not too hot - this is a case where you have to make sure your skin doesn't get dried out, contrary to what you may think because the bumps look like pimples.  If you do indeed have KP, the problem is not oil, not hair, but an excess of dead skin cells whose life cycle goes haywire.

Need help with your particular ingrown hair problem?  Let's talk !

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