How Does a Hair Bump Form?

by Jennifer Garcia

Ingrown hairs can be unsightly and painful.

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What is a Hair Bump?

A hair bump is the result of an ingrown hair. Ingrown hairs tend to develop at the hair shaft's end. They have a pointy, sharpened end and normally will try to grow straight, but when prevented from doing so, they curl back onto themselves and re-enter the same hair follicle that they were trying to grow out of. When this happens, a hair bump, or ingrown hair develops.

People with curly or coarse hair typically experience problems with ingrown hairs or hair bumps most frequently, however, they can affect anyone with any type of hair.

When a hair bump forms, it can manifest as a purple raised bump, a pustule or mini red bumps that cover the affected area.

What Causes a Hair Bump?

There are a few different ways that you can develop a hair bump. Some have to do with sanitary conditions, while others have to do with technique. It's a common misconception that hair bumps form solely because of unsanitary conditions.

Hair bumps are commonly caused by improper waxing, shaving or tweezing techniques. If the top of the hair shaft is cut off down to the skin during this process, the smaller shaft will usually grow inwards when it tries to grow again. When this happens, it grows in a tight, circular pattern underneath the skin, which in turn, causes a hair bump. Dead skin that finds its way into the follicle can also cause irritation and develop into hair bumps.

If a barber or stylist uses a blade on either hair clippers or a razor that has not been properly cleaned, that can also cause a hair bump. In these cases, it's usually an infection that causes the hair bump.

Bump

In essence, hair bumps or ingrown hairs, are nothing more than your body's inflammatory response to an infection. Because the ingrown hair can cause pustules and attempts to grow underneath the skin, your body responds by causing the area to become inflamed in an effort to purge itself of the ingrown hair.

Once a hair bump has formed, they are difficult to get rid of. In some cases, they develop a pustule that can be "popped." Once this happens, the hair is usually released and can be removed with tweezers. Other times, the hair is stuck underneath the skin and the bump seems to linger no matter what you do. In these cases, the best course of defense is to keep the area clean by washing the afflicted area with antibacterial soap at least twice a day. You can also apply isopropyl alcohol to the area, or if you prefer, hydrogen peroxide. Sometimes this will help bring down inflammation and reduce redness and discomfort.

Antibiotics do not work on hair bumps for the most part, unless you have a severe infection.

The best way to avoid hair bumps is to nip the problem in the bud. After you shave, tweeze or wax, apply a razor balm to the affected area. If you don't have balm, you can apply isopropyl alcohol to the area, however, this can burn and cause it's own type of skin irritation. Shaving lotion also works to help prevent the bumps.

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