Ingrown hairs are frustrating. Instead of a smooth shave, ingrown hairs look like skin-colored or pink bumps. Ingrown hairs occur when hair curls back or grows sideways into the skin. While they generally occur after shaving or waxing, they can occur anywhere–even without hair removal. Other causes include tight clothes that rub against the skin or keratosis pilaris. People with curly or course hair are more likely to get ingrown hairs. Unfortunately, ingrown hairs can lead to pseudofolliculitis barbae (razor bumps) and folliculitis, which is inflammation around the hair follicle. The dreaded red bumps. There are factors that increase your risk of developing razor bumps. Increased pressure or friction during shaving damages the skin where the hair grows out–called the ostia of the hair follicle. You can see your ostia more prominently when you get goose bumps – take a look! With increased pressure from shaving, you can make micro-cuts in your skin, which then increase the tendency for the hair to become ingrown as it grows back.
Keratosis Pilaris (KP) is a common problem that results in rough texture at the back of the upper arms, thighs, buttocks, back and sometimes cheeks. It’s so common that almost every day at least one patient tells me they have “goose bumps” or “chicken skin” that they would like help treating. 40% of adults, and up to 80% of adolescents experience this. KP looks like rough, slightly red or skin colored bumps. While KP is harmless and generally doesn’t itch or hurt, it can be quite annoying. It occurs when excess keratin, one of the major proteins in the skin, forms hard plugs within hair follicles. This plug then traps the hair in the follicle. KP runs in families and happens more when people have a tendency for dry skin or eczema. Sometimes it just happens. Because it’s associated with dryness, KP is usually worse in the winter or in dry climates, and improves in warm and humid climates.