Ingrown hairs, whether on the face or other areas of the body, may be misdiagnosed as acne lesions because of the tender, raised, inflamed appearance often associated with ingrown hairs. Not only can ingrown hairs lead to folliculitis (infection/inflammation of the hair follicles), but they often cause scarring.
Scarring from ingrown hairs appears as dark, circular spots that surround the hair follicles. This dark discoloration is also known as traumatic hyperpigmentation. A more serious form of scarring often associated with a condition called pseudofolliculitis barbae appears as deep crevices or depressions in the skin with sharp edges surrounding the area. This condition is less common but can lead to more severe scarring that looks similar to textured acne scarring as opposed to the pigmented scarring highlighted above.
Because shaving usually aggravates and causes more ingrown hairs, laser hair removal is an excellent treatment choice. Removing the hair permanently is the only way known to prevent future ingrown hairs. With laser hair removal treatments, the goal is to destroy the hair. The benefits include the resolution of the “bumps”, scarring, and discoloration caused by the ingrown hairs.
Lori Haney, RN, MEP-C
Certified Medical Laser Safety Officer