There are lots of different causes for ingrown hairs. They often result after shaving. When the hair is cut incorrectly, it can curl under and begin to grow back into the skin, causing a swollen, red bump and irritation.
Hair removal is the most common cause of ingrown hairs on the scrotum area or anywhere else.
If you shave your scrotum in the opposite direction of hair growth or use a dull blade, you could be at risk for ingrown hairs. Shaving this way often won’t result in a clean cut. It can leave the shaved hairs primed to grow sideways or upside down into the skin.
Tweezing is certainly a more precise form of hair removal, but it can still put your genitals at risk for ingrown hairs. When you suddenly remove an entire hair follicle from your body, a new hair may take its place and grow incorrectly.
Much like tweezing, waxing the hair on the scrotum can introduce new hairs that grow sideways or crooked. Waxing can also irritate the skin and lead to swelling. This may block new hairs from exiting the skin properly and cause them to grow inward.
Coarse or curly hair
People with especially curly or coarse hair are at the highest risk of developing ingrown hairs. Moreover, pubic hair tends to be coarse and curly for most people, which can make removing it tricky. These kinds of hairs can grow in different directions and easily curl under to grow back into the skin.
An ingrown hair on the scrotum will most likely result in a small, red, swollen bump. However, red bumps on the body could be from any number of skin conditions. Sometimes these are easily confused with an ingrown hair.
A few conditions common to the scrotum that might be mistaken for an ingrown hair include:
- Pimples. Though most common on the face or back, acne can appear anywhere on the body. It’s possible a red bump on the scrotum is an unusually placed pimple. Pimples, like ingrown hairs, will usually go away without treatment.
- Genital warts. If a red bump on the scrotum spreads into a cluster of multiple bumps that itch, bleed, or burn, it may be genital warts. If you suspect genital warts, see your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment.
- Genital herpes. Red blisters on the scrotum are a common symptom of genital herpes. This could be the case if the bump lasts longer than a week and forms a crust on its surface.
Usually, you don’t need to treat an ingrown hair. It should go away on its own in time. It may be uncomfortable, but with a little patience, it should clear up.
You should, however, consider stopping shaving, tweezing, or waxing the genital area until the ingrown hair has fully healed.
If the ingrown hair is persistent, or if you’d like to speed up the recovery process, you do have some treatment options:
Treating the skin with a warm, damp cloth a few times a day can soften the skin and better allow the trapped hair to breach the surface.
Remove the hair
If the ingrown hair is accessible, use clean tweezers to gently pull it out of the skin. Only attempt this if the hair has exited the skin and is growing outward again, giving you an end to grab. Never dig into your skin with tweezers to grab the hair.
Similar to using a warm compress, exfoliating the skin with a gentle scrub or loofah can help trapped ingrown hairs escape.
Your doctor might prescribe a steroid cream or retinoid if you have a particularly persistent or uncomfortable ingrown hair. Steroid creams help reduce redness and inflammation. Retinoids help your body shed dead skin around the ingrown hair.
An ingrown hair isn’t usually a serious medical condition. It’s a perfectly normal, though unpleasant, result of improper hair removal in the pubic area.
In most cases, you won’t need to see your doctor for an ingrown hair on your scrotum. However, consider making an appointment if you notice any of the following:
- The ingrown hair persists or won’t go away on its own.
- You seem to get ingrown hairs extremely frequently.
- The bump grows larger over time. This could mean it’s an ingrown hair cyst.
The occasional ingrown hair on your genitals or anywhere on your body isn’t something to be overly concerned with. However, if you’re prone to lots of ingrown hairs due to your grooming habits or you have coarse, curly hair, these prevention tips might help:
- Always use a lubricating shaving cream or gel when shaving your pubic area.
- Shave in the direction of hair growth and not against it.
- Use a new, single-bladed razor for precise cuts.
- Consider other hair removal options, like chemicals or laser treatment.
The best defense against uncomfortable ingrown hairs on your scrotum or pubic area is better grooming habits.
If you do get an ingrown hair, you can gently treat the area at home. Or you can wait. In time, the discomfort and redness will fade away on its own.
If the ingrown hair doesn’t go away on its own or you’re constantly dealing with a number of ingrown hairs, see your doctor for a full diagnosis.
Also make an appointment to see your doctor if the bump grows larger over time, or you suspect you have genital warts or genital herpes.