Ingrown Hair Cyst

An ingrown hair cyst is normally found beneath the skin surface. In many cases, you will only learn of its presence after experiencing an uncomfortable feeling brought about by the progression of its infection.

Overview: ingrown hair cyst

It is common for a person to become embarrassed when they have a big, unsightly and painful bump on an exposed area of their skin. The bumps are mainly found in areas such as the groin, armpit, and neck. We are going to look at everything that you need to know about this ingrown hair cyst, including its symptoms, causes and treatment options.

Ingrown hair cyst—what is it?

This type of hair can best be described as a swollen bump occurring under your skin, and which happens to be filled with pus. It comes about when the hair follicle that is below the skin gets stuck and is no longer able to grow as it should. It, therefore, begins to curl inside your skin, making the area above it swell and become unbearably painful.

What are the symptoms of an ingrown hair cyst?

It is possible to find a person mistaking this type of cyst for another condition, for instance, a skin infection. For you to know that you have an ingrown cyst, you need to check the region that is infected. Observe its symptoms and then compare them with what is already known about these kinds of infections. Cyst symptoms include:

• Pus

Pus is a yellowish liquid that starts forming when an area becomes infected. Do not attempt to pop the cyst after noticing the pus.

• Bumps/swelling

When you get a cyst, the very first thing that you will notice will be the emergence of a soft bump. This bump will start to become bigger as time goes by. The reason for this is the hair that is trying to grow out of the follicle that has been trapped below the skin.

• Itchiness

Itching is a symptom that is associated with a bacterial infection. Once it has been noticed, the next symptom to follow will be pus. However, there are instances when you may experience itchiness due to friction that takes place when your clothes rub against your bare skin.

How does an ingrown hair cyst develop?

The development of cyst is accelerated when a person gets an ingrown hair as a result of employing a poor shaving technique. This infection may also come about when you experience post-shaving irritation. The irritation will occur when a hair starts curling into your skin, thereby causing the affected region to react. The reaction will cause an ingrown hair.

A hair cyst will start to form when this follicle starts going deeper into your skin. As it goes deeper into the skin, the hair will continue growing beneath the skin rather than out of it. This is a situation that will further irritate your skin, leading to the development of symptoms such as swollen bumps.

Curly hair

Curly hair is considered the leading cause of a hair cyst. It mainly occurs due to the way the hair reacts to the shaving razor. Additionally, a curly hair will normally attempt to grow back into the skin instead of out of it due to its curled nature.


A person who suffers from common skin problems such as acne may, from time to time, develop additional problems like cystic acne. This refers to an inflammation that occurs when a hair follicle is stuck beneath the skin due to pores on the skin surface that have become clogged. A clogged pore has a tendency of hindering the proper growth of a hair, and this causes the formation of a skin bump that may later become filled with pus.


Given the fact that an ingrown hair indicates your hair is curled into your skin, this means that you may need to try to pull it out. By attempting to do this, you will need to unclog the skin pores that are blocked and attempt to straighten out the hair so that it can grow outside your skin.


Each person’s skin will react differently to the introduction of a shaving razor. This explains why a razor causes a cut when it comes across a curly hair or swollen bump. The skin that has been irritated can in future develop into a hair cyst. However, the development will only occur if the area is not treated well or if this curly hair continues growing deeper into your skin.

What is the difference between a cyst and an ingrown hair?

Skin irritations come in different forms, and in some cases, they are so similar that it becomes hard for one to differentiate them. A normal person will easily get confused when they try to differentiate between two types of skin infections.

However, there are signs that you can identify when attempting to differentiate between a cyst and an ingrown hair.

An ordinary ingrown hair can be tweezed out. However, cysts tend to grow deep into the skin, and this makes it very hard for one to extract them.

Another thing to consider will be the nature of the infection. An ingrown hair will normally be caused by the use of incorrect shaving techniques, or by cutting yourself when shaving. On the other hand, cysts can be caused by a number of factors such as bacteria, acne, irritation or skin inflammation.

Where can cysts be found on the human body?

Private areas

Hair cysts are very common in the sensitive areas of the body. Some of the private body parts affected by cysts include:

• Armpits

Armpits are some of the most commonly affected regions. This is because they tend to be quite sensitive. Additionally, constant coverage and unending sweat mean that armpits are highly prone to irritation. To avoid the growth of an ingrown hair in this region, you ought to consider replacing shaving with waxing.

• Thighs

All private parts tend to become sensitive to all kinds of irritation, more so when they are subjected to a razor. Some of the people who are most affected by this problem are women because they shave more times than their male counterparts. Therefore, women are advised to consider waxing these areas instead of shaving as a way of preventing the development of ingrown hairs, irritation, discoloration and razor bumps.

Other body parts

Other body parts with human hair such as the legs and scalp can also experience cysts. Such areas are easily affected by razor cuts, which occur when shaving. When such cuts become inflamed, they develop into bumps, which may later form cysts.

• Legs

A person using the wrong shaving technique in this area runs the risk of developing an ingrown hair. This will normally occur when you shave in the opposite direction of the way the hair is growing. This means that it will not be possible for you to remove all the unwanted hair. To get a smooth shave, you need to use shaving cream and ensure that you shave in the same direction as the growing hair.

• Scalp

An ingrown hair in this region occurs because of using a hard brush or the wrong shaving technique. Men are at a higher risk of developing this problem as opposed to women. However, there are instances where the ingrown hair will develop from nowhere. The trick here is to avoid brushing your hair in a violent manner.

Treatment options for ingrown hair

For an ingrown hair, the primary goal is to reduce the inflammation and ensure that the surrounding region will not become infected.

You should consider taking over the counter medications that contain benzoyl peroxide. These medications will be able to reduce the size of your cysts as well as do away with inflammation. If you find that the OTC medications are not working for you, then it might be a good idea to consider taking prescription acne medication.

A physician can, for instance, prescribe a steroid cream for you to assist in reducing the inflammation and redness on the cyst. It is important that you resist the temptation of popping the cyst. Popping it increases your chances of becoming infected.

What you need to do is help the cyst to continue going down. This will, in turn, cause the ingrown hair to begin straightening out. You can do this by scrubbing the cyst in a gentle manner using a clean washcloth dipped in warm water.