When curly hairs do grow sideways or downwards rather than the normal upright growing position, there's a possibility that they can grow back down into the hair follicles in the scalp. Although this is not normal, it does happen often enough and is not really a cause for concern unless these growths become infected. The condition is considered medically harmless unless scars develop as a result of the growth, or discoloration appears on the skin which is noticeable and embarrassing for the host.
For the most part, this condition is limited to males and occurs most generally around the cheeks and on the chin. The reason that this is more predominantly a male issue, is that men tend to shave their scalps more, so scalp bumps can develop much more easily than with females. When females experience ingrown hairs, it is much more likely to appear on their legs, pubic areas and in the armpits.
The symptoms which accompany ingrown hairs are common to both men and women, and include the following:
There are two ways that scalp hairs can become ingrown, one of which is to begin growing straight out, and then turn sideways or downward and begin growing into the scalp. It's also possible for a hair to begin growing underneath the skin itself right from the beginning. Both of these are generally caused by tweezing, shaving, waxing, hair trimming or hair cutting. When the proper technique is not used for trimming and shaving, it becomes much more likely to develop ingrown scalp hairs.
It's also very possible to develop reddish bumps on the scalp or skin when those same improper techniques are used for trimming and shaving, and the bumps are quite likely to be uncomfortable, if not downright painful.
If follicles on the head become clogged with oils or other debris, it can lead to ingrown hairs on the scalp. Dead skin cells also contribute to blockages which may form, and this, in turn, can trigger hairs to curl back around downward, rather than growing straight up as they normally would.
People who have naturally curly hair are more susceptible to developing ingrown scalp hairs, simply because their hair is already growing in a direction other than the straight-up norm. Sometimes hair products used on the scalp such as shampoos, conditioners and dyes, can also irritate the scalp and the hair, and lead to the possibility of ingrown scalp hairs. In cases like these, when irritation does develop, it can also cause itchy red bumps to appear, and then it becomes more likely that scalp hairs will be trapped within these bumps.
There is also a genetic tendency toward ingrown scalp hairs, with the offspring of affected people becoming more likely to inherit the condition themselves. There seems to be a link between your general health, and an increased likelihood for ingrown scalp hairs, so by maintaining proper diet and lifestyle, your risk for developing ingrown scalp hairs is reduced.
As stated previously, ingrown scalp hairs tend to look like elevated pinkish bumps on the skin or scalp, and when these form into clusters, it becomes likely that there are at least some ingrown hairs at the site. Sometimes they also appear to have small whiteheads in the center of a blackish tiny center.
Inflammation around the affected site will cause the bumps to look reddish when they get infected, and pus will become visible, oozing out for as long as it remains in the blisters. This, in turn, will trigger pain and itching, which will definitely be felt by anyone experiencing the condition. When hair becomes completely trapped under the skin, it's possible for a hair cyst to develop, which makes it just about impossible for the ingrown hair to be removed, even with tweezers.
Anyone who has an occasional ingrown hair should not be overly concerned about it, but when it develops into a more chronic condition, it is worth consulting your physician about. When ingrown scalp hairs become persistent, it's very possible that the host may be in a state of constant discomfort and that long-term scarring may develop.
Cysts on the scalp which are related to ingrown hair don't usually occur on any other part of the body, and in appearance, they are smooth and apparently mobile. These cysts are thought to be the result of genetic influence, often running through families. When such cysts appear on your scalp, they generally become inflamed and are very tender to the touch.
Should the cyst be ruptured, either by touching or on its own, it is very likely to become painful, and at that point, your best course of action would be to visit your physician at the earliest opportunity. It's possible to remove these types of ingrown scalp hair cysts by surgical methods, usually while the patient is under local anesthetic, although some doctors prefer to use other means.
One of the reasons that you shouldn't be overly concerned about random appearances of ingrown scalp hairs, is that for the most part, they will generally heal themselves, without you having to undergo any kind of treatment. In the event that your own case of ingrown scalp hair is more severe, you would be well advised to consult your physician or dermatologist and follow up on his/her recommendation for the safest method of treatment.
Assuming that you do not have a really severe case of ingrown scalp hair, you can do some things at home to remedy the situation and supplement your home remedies with medical follow-up. To begin, simply wash the affected area with an antibacterial soap or dandruff shampoo, to make sure the site is clean and free of bacteria.
Then you can apply a topical cream directly on the affected site, and for best results, you should ask your physician which topical cream would be best for your condition. These topical creams are intended to reduce the build-up of dead cells, oil and other debris which may be causing blockage around scalp hairs. Your physician may want to prescribe oral antibiotics or some kind of antibiotic ointment if it becomes apparent that you have a bacterial scalp infection.
If your ingrown scalp hair resists these moderate self-healing methods, you should consult with your physician about additional steps which can safely be taken.