You may be able to reduce ingrown pubic hairs with over-the-counter (OTC) exfoliants and moisturizers and home remedies. Certain practices, like hygienic shaving habits, may prevent them.

You get ingrown pubic hairs when your pubic hair grows back into the skin instead of up to the surface. It can happen when pubic hair has been shaved, waxed, or plucked. When ingrown hair develops, you may have:

infographic showing an ingrown pubic hairShare on Pinterest
Illustration by Mekhi Baldwin

Read on to learn how to treat and prevent ingrown public hairs.

In most cases, you don’t need to treat ingrown pubic hairs. They often clear up on their own without treatment.

If the hairs don’t start to grow back up through the skin, you may need to try one of the following treatment options.

1. Apply warm compresses

Place warm compresses on the area.

You can also rub a wet washcloth or soft toothbrush in a circular motion over the skin.

2. Gently pull out the hair

Once the hair emerges above the skin, use sterile tweezers or a needle to gently pull it.

Try not to pluck it out completely until the area is healed, or the skin will heal over the hair again. Don’t dig into your skin. Breaking through your skin could cause an infection.

3. Exfoliate

Gently wash and exfoliate around the area to help the hair return to the surface of the skin.

4. Use creams to reduce inflammation

If the ingrown pubic hair is causing a lot of redness and inflammation, a doctor may prescribe a steroid cream. This topical treatment can reduce swelling and irritation around the hair.

5. Use retinoids

Retinoids, such as tretinoin (Renova, Retin-A), can speed up the clearing of dead skin cells. They may also help clear up dark skin patches that form because of ingrown hair. A doctor can prescribe a retinoid, but note that these medications can cause dry skin.

Do not use any products containing retinoids if you’re pregnant. This medication is dangerous to the baby and can cause developmental issues.

6. Use an OTC acne treatment

Benzoyl peroxide cream is an ingredient found in OTC acne treatment that can help dry up the affected area and reduce redness.

7. Try home remedies

Some home remedies may help relieve inflammation and pain.

  • Tea tree oil has antibiotic properties and can bring down swelling. It can treat acne and may also work for ingrown hairs. Mix the oil with water to dilute it, and apply using a cotton ball.
  • Sugar is a natural exfoliant. Mix it with olive oil or honey to moisturize the skin and reduce bacteria. Apply the paste in a circular motion, and then rinse with warm water.
  • Baking soda helps exfoliate and bring down inflammation. Mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda with 1 cup of water. Use a cotton ball to apply it to your skin, and then rinse with cold water.

Some habits can make ingrown hair worse. These can include:

  • pulling or picking at the ingrown hair, as it could cause an infection
  • squeezing the bumps, as popping them could cause a skin infection or leave a scar
  • digging under the skin, as it can cause an infection or scarring
  • waxing, shaving, or plucking the hair in that area until the ingrown hair goes away, as it can aggravate the sensitive area even more

If the ingrown pubic hair gets infected, the bumps may be painful and filled with pus.

A doctor may prescribe an antibiotic ointment or wash. If the infection is severe, you might need to take an antibiotic by mouth.

The best way to prevent ingrown pubic hair is by avoiding waxing, shaving, or plucking, but that’s not always practical.

If you do continue to groom your pubic hair, some practices may prevent future ingrown pubic hairs.

1. Prime the pubic area for shaving

Treating the pubic region before shaving may reduce your risk of ingrown hair when the hair starts to grow back.

First, wash your skin with a mild soap. Rub on a lubricating shave cream or shave gel that’s designed for sensitive areas. Shave in the direction of hair growth.

When you’re finished, dry the area thoroughly before getting dressed.

2. Replace your razor blade

Some razors are designed to reduce the risk of ingrown hairs. You can try one of these special razors, or just buy a single-bladed razor.

The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA) suggests replacing your blade after five to seven shaves. Dull blades can increase your risk of ingrown hair.

3. Consider laser hair removal

Laser hair removal removes hair at a deeper level, damaging the hair follicle. In most cases, that prevents the hair from growing back.

Laser hair removal requires several treatments over the course of a few weeks and months, but the results are usually semi-permanent. Laser removal isn’t as effective on lighter hair colors. This can include if your hair is:

  • blonde
  • white
  • gray
  • red

4. Look into other hair removal options

Chemical hair removers are an option but can irritate sensitive skin. Consider testing the product on a small patch on another part of your body before using it on your pubic area. If you don’t have a reaction within 24 hours, it should be safe to use. Keep in mind, the skin in the genital area is much more sensitive than the skin on your arm or leg.

Some prescription creams reduce hair regrowth, especially when used after hair removal treatments.

Electrolysis is a permanent hair removal treatment. It uses an electrode to destroy the hair root. Like laser hair removal, electrolysis requires several treatments over the course of a few weeks or months.

5. Exfoliate the area

Exfoliate with salicylic acid or glycolic acid. These products help keep your hair follicles open, so the hairs don’t get trapped again. But avoid these products if you already have an ingrown hair, as they could irritate the area.

6. Moisturize the area

A nongreasy moisturizer can get reduce dead skin cells, which often clog follicles and contribute to ingrown hairs.

Most hair shafts will grow up through the skin without causing any problems. Other hairs may grow underneath the skin. When you shave, the shortened hair can curl back and grow into your skin.

When hair grows back into the skin, the body responds to the hair as if it were a foreign object, causing inflammation.

Certain people may be at a higher risk of ingrown hairs. For example, people with thick, curly hair tend to develop ingrown hairs more often than people with fine, thin hair. This is especially true with pubic hair, which tends to be coarser than the hair on the head or the rest of the body.

An occasional ingrown pubic hair is nothing to be alarmed about. You might want to see a doctor about ingrown pubic hairs if the following apply to you:

  • You often get ingrown pubic hairs.
  • You have excessive hair growth, which can occur with some health issues.
  • Your ingrown hair is infected.

You may be able to treat ingrown hair with OTC products and home remedies. Some habits, such as using a clean razor to shave, may help prevent future ingrown hairs.