We asked Prof Ryan:
‘Ingrown hairs are a very common problem after shaving or waxing. “Pseudofolliculitis barbae,” is a foreign-body inflammatory reaction surrounding ingrown hairs, and is also known as shaving rash or razor bumps. It can also occur on any body site where hair is shaved, waxed or plucked, including the face, armpits, pubic area, and legs.
There are several useful tips to help prevent or reduce this problem.
When shaving, always use a new sharp safety razor and change blades as soon as they become blunt. Wash the area to be shaved with moisturizing cleansers and warm water to help soften the hair. Keep the skin hot and moist. Apply a moisturising shaving cream or gel, and allow it to sit for a 2-3 minutes so it can further soften the hair.
People with sensitive skin should choose gentle products. Aqueous cream is sometimes recommended, but this can clog the razor blade. Never use soap. Always shave in the direction of the hair follicle and do not stretch the skin. Although you may get a closer shave if you go against the grain, you are more likely to get razor burn (irritant contact dermatitis) and pseudofolliculitis (ingrown hairs).
Rinse the blade frequently to remove hair and shaving cream. Follow your shave with a cold water rinse to help reduce inflammation. Finish off with a moisturiser to rehydrate the skin.
For those who wax, regularly exfoliating the areas you get waxed will strip away dead skin cells and prevent clogged pores and ingrown hair. As a best practice, you should exfoliate the areas that will be waxed at least two days before and three days after your appointment.
One of the most successful methods to eliminate this problem is laser hair removal. When the hair follicle is destroyed there is nothing to incite an inflammatory reaction.