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MSD Manual

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Quick Facts

Ingrown Beard Hairs

(Pseudofolliculitis Barbae)


The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Jan 2021| Content last modified Jan 2021
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What are ingrown beard hairs?

Ingrown beard hairs are tiny, mildly painful pimples from recently-shaved hairs that curve and grow back into your skin. This happens most often in black men with very curly hair. Women who shave their bikini area may get the same kinds of pimples from ingrown hairs.

What causes ingrown beard hairs?

Ingrown beard hairs are caused by short, sharp hairs curling back and puncturing your skin. Your skin gets irritated and you get a pimple-like bump.

How do doctors treat ingrown beard hairs?

Treatments include:

  • Having you stop shaving for a while

  • Applying warm compresses to the ingrown hairs

  • Releasing the ingrown hairs with a sterile needle or toothpick

  • Applying corticosteroid or antibiotic creams

  • Taking antibiotic or corticosteroid pills, if you have severe swelling, redness, and pain

How can I prevent ingrown beard hairs?

One way to prevent ingrown hairs is by not shaving and letting your beard grow, or by removing your beard with:

  • A liquid or cream hair remover

  • Electrolysis, which involves destroying hair follicles with electric current

  • Laser treatments

If you shave, use proper shaving methods:

  • Wet your beard first

  • Shave in the direction the hair grows

  • Avoid using multiple strokes to get an extremely close shave

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