If you see a raised bump on your face or body, you're probably going to want to treat it and remove it ASAP. But hold on a sec, because what you think is your run of the mill zit might actually be something different, requiring a different type of treatment. So how do you tell if it's a pimple or an ingrown hair? Even though they may look pretty similar, there are some defining characteristics that can help you tell the difference, and therefore, know how better to treat them so they clear up as soon as possible!
Though an ingrown hair can look exactly like a pimple when it pops up on your skin, the two are caused by very different things. Pimples are caused by dead skin cells and oil blocking a pore, which can lead to inflammation and redness, while ingrown hairs are actually a hair follicle being blocked by dead skin cells, or a hair growing sideways into the skin instead of up and out of the follicle. While the treatments differ, you definitely don't want to squeeze either of them. I know it's hard, but resist.
But before you can decide the best course of action, you need to know exactly what you're dealing with. Here are a few ways to figure out if that bump is actually a pimple or an ingrown hair.
1. Where The Bump Is Located
Males are more likely to get ingrown hairs on their neck and jawline, while females notice them commonly on their legs, upper lip, and groin. If it's located in one of these areas, there is a good chance it's an ingrown hair.
2. If You Shaved
Shaving is notorious for causing ingrown hairs because the ends of the cut hair can be sharp and more easily penetrate your pores, or they can grow back in another direction instead of straight out of the follicle. So if you recently shaved and a bump popped up, it's probably an ingrown hair.
3. If You Tweezed Or Waxed
Just because it's on your face, doesn't automatically make it a pimple. Ingrown hairs can also be caused by tweezing/waxing if the hair was long or coarse. If you notice a red bump on your face and you were plucking or waxing, it's likely ingrown.
4. If You Have Curly Hair
Those with curly hair are more likely to get ingrown hairs because when the hair is cut from shaving/tweezing, curly hair can grow in sideways instead of straight, causing ingrown hairs.
5. The Size & Color Of The Bump
Ingrown hairs are generally smaller and red, while cystic pimples are deep, colorless, and usually much larger lumps.
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