I am prone to ingrown hairs and have almost decided to stop bikini waxing as I've tried all kinds of things, including taking an oral antibiotic. Any suggestions?
At Waxing the City we understand your frustration and hope we can resolve the problem for you.
Let’s start with a little Psuedofolliculitis Barbae 101.
Psuedofolliculitis Barbae is another way of saying ingrown hairs, but who can remember that?!! Put simply, ingrowns are hairs that curve back into the follicle or that get trapped under the skin, causing swollen, red bumps -- and sometimes, if left unattended, even infection. They are painful and unsightly. People that have dark, coarse or curly hair are usually the most prone to ingrown hairs.
A common area one will find ingrown hairs is around the bikini line. They are most often caused by shaving, waxing, and depilatory creams.
You mentioned that you have tried several things and it sounds like you have even visited your doctor to get an oral medication. But, before you give up on waxing entirely, I'm going to give you the same advice that I give to all of my clients in hopes that it may help you:
First, exfoliation is key. Exfoliation removes the dead skin that may be trapping the ingrown hair. It can also loosen ingrown hairs. I recommend using a water-soluble scrub like a sugar scrub or a jojoba scrub, which are less abrasive than an apricot scrub.
You can also use a loofah glove. Be sure to use light pressure so you don't irritate the skin around the ingrown hairs. Do this three to four times a week. If you are doing this already and still don't notice a difference, try a product specifically made for ingrowns. My favorite is Tend Skin (a great product we carry).
It is important to use this product regularly (everyday to every other day) to get results. Tend Skin contains salicylic acid which takes the exfoliation step one step further. It also helps the ingrowns from getting infected.
My second piece of advice is this: infection can occur if the condition is left unattended and the area is exposed to bacteria. Another cause of ingrown hairs and infection is tight clothing. This is common amongst athletes who, for instance, cycle and are in tight-fitting biking shorts for long periods of time. If you think clothing may be the culprit, try wearing clothes that whisk sweat away from the body and remove clothing immediately after working out.
Finally do some research on the type of wax your salon uses. No big surprise, the skin around the bikini area is extremely sensitive. If your salon uses soft wax that might be part of the problem. At WTC we use hard wax on the bikini line for just this reason. Hard wax, which is commonly called blue wax because of its color, is a stripless wax. Hard wax is gentler to the skin in sensitive areas, such as the face or bikini area. Hard wax goes on the skin warm and then cools and hardens acting like saran wrap to the hair. As it hardens it lifts itself from the skin making the pull less painful.
I think it is important to know, too, that waxing isn't for everyone. If you think that this is a chronic condition and waxing may be part of the problem, then permanent hair removal is always an option.
I hope this helps. Please feel free to contact me if you have any further questions.