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Some hair removal techniques can blunt the ends of hairs, making it harder for them to emerge through the skin. When the hair doesn’t emerge, you have an ingrown hair.

For this reason, ingrown hairs and the scars they may cause are more likely to happen in areas that are shaved, waxed, or tweezed.

Ingrown hair scars sometimes resemble pimples, or raised, red bumps that don’t go away or heal. Here’s how you can make them fade at home.

Ingrown hair scars, like all scars, form as part of the natural healing process.

Let it heal first. You will have the best success in treating ingrown hair scars if you let the wound heal completely first.

You can help the healing process move along by keeping the area clean, covered, and moist. Make sure that any sign of infection is gone before you start focusing on scar removal.

DIY treatments will be at their most effective if you use them on newly-formed scars.

There are several at-home methods you can try that can help you reduce or fade minor ingrown hair scars. They include:

Sunscreen

Applying sunscreen to keep the scar protected from the sun may help it fade more quickly. Sunscreen also helps reduce areas of red and brown discoloration.

Green tea

The compounds in green tea, called catechins, have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Although more research is needed, topically-applied green tea extract was shown in multiple studies to have potential benefits for reducing scar tissue.

Try placing moistened tea bags directly onto the scar, or make a warm compress by placing a towel or wash cloth in a bowl of brewed green tea and using it on your skin. You can also buy skin care products that contain green tea extract. (Check some out here!)

Aloe vera

There’s not much data linking aloe vera use for the treatment of scars, but it’s a well-used remedy with a great deal of anecdotal evidence behind its healing abilities.

Cut an aloe vera leaf directly off the plant and use the gel inside it on the scar. Massage the gel in for several minutes daily until the scar has faded.

Aloe vera can also be purchased as a ready-made gel.

Onion extract gel

Onion extract contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds. Onion extract gels have been shown to be effective in multiple studies for scar reduction, including keloid scars.

Products containing onion extract include Mederma Scar Cream.

Silicone

Silicone sheets and silicone gel have been found effective for reducing the appearance of both old and new scars, including keloid scars.

Shop for silicone sheets and gels.

Essential oils

A number of essential oils have healing properties which may help reduce the appearance of ingrown hair scars.

It’s important to never use an essential oil directly on scar tissue unless it’s been diluted by a carrier oil. You can also try products that contain essential oils on your skin.

Some essential oils to try include:

When at-home remedies don’t work

Not all ingrown hair scars respond to at-home treatment. In some instances, you’ll get better results by seeing a medical specialist, such as a dermatologist.

Skin care and health professionals will have other options that you can consider for fading or removing scars.

Certain skin and hair types are more prone to ingrown hairs and scarring than others. It may be hard to avoid getting ingrown hairs or scars completely, especially if you have very coarse or curly hair. However, the best way to prevent ingrown hairs from scarring is to not let them get infected.

If you have an ingrown hair:

  • Don’t dig at it. If you have an ingrown hair, don’t pick at it or try to pop it.
  • Let it breathe. If the ingrown hair is located on an area of your body which is typically covered by clothing, don’t wear anything tight, which might rub against it, to avoid irritation.
  • Keep it clean and moisturized. Keep the area clean and moist. You can also use warm compresses to soften the skin which will make it easier for the ingrown hair to pop out on its own.
  • Don’t shave or tweeze. Don’t shave or remove hair in the area where the ingrown hair or hairs are located. This will reduce irritation to the skin and help prevent scarring.
  • Try a formulated gel. There are also serums, such as Tend Skin, which will help the ingrown hairs come out more easily. By helping the trapped hair escape, you’ll also help reduce the amount of trauma to your skin.

If an infection does occur, keep the area clean, moist, and covered.

Preventing ingrown hairs

  • When you shave, always moisturize your skin before and after. Use a sharp razor and rinse it between strokes.
  • If you have curly or coarse hair, exfoliate your skin often to help avoid ingrown hairs and the scars they cause. Exfoliation also helps remove dead skin cells and debris from the surface of the skin which can help reduce the risk of infection.

Infected ingrown hairs often start out looking like tiny red bumps. The bumps may become larger, pus-filled, or itchy. They may also feel warm to the touch.

If an ingrown hair gets infected, don’t pick at it or try to remove the hair inside. Instead, follow these tips:

  • Keep the area clean and moist. You can use an antibacterial cream to help heal the area.
  • Warm compresses may help the hair exit, while soothing the skin.
  • Keep the wound covered and change the dressing daily until healing is complete.
  • If a scab forms, don’t pick at it, as this will only make the infection and resulting scar worse.

An ingrown hair can develop a pus-filled, discolored bump. Since this can be uncomfortable, itchy, or painful, this makes ingrown hairs more likely to get infected, especially if they’re picked at or rubbed. When this happens, damage to the skin and scarring may result.

Changes to your skin may result after infection and can include keloid scarring or hyperpigmentation.

Keloid scar

For some people, keloid scarring can result from ingrown hair infections. Keloid scars are smooth, raised bumps caused by scar tissue that continues to grow.

Keloids can range in color from flesh-toned to pink or red. They may become larger than the original area.

Hyperpigmentation

While not actually scarring, areas of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PiH) can also be caused by ingrown hairs or infections.

PiH is sometimes referred to as pseudo scarring. It’s a skin reaction to injury or inflammation which results in increased melanin production.

PiH looks like flat, brown patches. It’s more likely to occur in people with dark skin, rather than those with light-colored skin. Anecdotal evidence indicates that PiH patches may occur after hair removal in the bikini area.

Whether you experience a typical scar or simply excess melanin in the skin where an ingrown hair was, at-home or professional methods can help if you want to fade its appearance.

Scars can result from ingrown hairs that become infected. The appearance of these scars or excess melanin can often be improved with at-home treatments.

It’s easiest to treat a scar that’s newly formed, once the underlying infection has healed completely. Older scars are harder to remove completely.

Scars that don’t respond to at-home treatment can often be eliminated by medical interventions, so if you have any concerns, speak to a skin care specialist.