How To Know If It's An Ingrown Hair Or Something Else Entirely

Mysterious painful bumps anywhere on your body are obviously anything but pleasant, but they totally happen. If you're really stuck trying to figure out what a bump is, I've broken down how to know if it's an ingrown hair, pimple, STD, or something else. As a lady with very sensitive skin that frequently has "WTF are you on my body?!" moments, let me assure you that freaking out is totally unnecessary and you're going to be fine regardless of whatever it is.

As defined in WebMD, "Ingrown hairs are hairs that have curled around and grown back into your skin instead of rising up from it." They can be big or small depending on the level of irritation, and often go away on their own if you don't mess with them. And fortunately, confirming whether or not that's what you're dealing with is a fairly simple task.

Wondering if your ingrown hair might actually be a pimple? Ben Holber of YoDerm, an awesome app that connects you with board-certified dermatologists, shared, "Distinguishing between the two can be as easy as noticing where and when you get small reddish bumps. If you’re noticing these bumps in a place where you consistently shave, try not shaving for a couple of days and see if you get any new blemishes. If you don’t, the blemishes that exist are most likely ingrown hairs ... [Otherwise,] they could be acne."

Think it might be an STD? Nurse Practitioner Molly Brown of Ottenheimer Health in New York City advised, "To find out what you're working with down there, simply soak a cotton swab in white vinegar and hold it on the bump in question for a few minutes. Any skin infected with HPV will turn white with the application of white vinegar. Anything else won't change color at all." If it does turn a different color, just call your doctor and they can take care of it no big!

Once you've confirmed that you do in fact have an ingrown hair, check out the tips below to treat and prevent them in the future.

1. Exfoliate Before Shaving

Frank Original Scrub, $20, Amazon

Making sure all your dead skin cells are removed before using your razor means no hairs getting trapped under them.

2. Use A Sharp Razor

Gillette Venus Embrace Razors, $13, Jet

Using a dull razor means you'll have to go over the same patches of skin several times, and the dull blade can end up pushing some hairs further into the follicle instead of successfully removing them.

3. Remove Hair With A Sterile Needle

Sterile Needles, $12, Amazon

If your ingrown hair is trapped and causing irritation, you can gently push it out by making an incredibly small incision in your skin with a sterile needle or tweezer. Just be incredibly careful!

4. Wait It Out

Most ingrown hairs will in fact go away on their own as long as you don't pick at them. Hang in there.

5. See A Doctor

If the area surrounding your ingrown hair becomes infected, your best bet is to get it professionally dealt with by a dermatologist since you might need an antibiotic.

6. Try Treatment Pads

Bikini Bump Blaster, $14, Amazon

Completely Bare makes this really cool razor bump blaster to use after shaving that both soothes ingrown hairs and helps prevent more from forming.

7. Stop Shaving

I personally think shaving in winter is annoying and unnecessary. If you've never gone more than a few days sans-razor, I dare you to liberate yourself a little longer and see how you feel!

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