Ingrown pubic hair is a common problem for those who shave, tweeze, or wax “down there.” It’s usually not a deadly condition, but it can be painful, unsightly, and itchy. In some cases, it could lead to serious infection. In this article, you’ll find out the causes, prevention, and treatment of ingrown hair in the pubic area.
Practically everything that causes the hair to break unequally with a jagged tip can cause ingrown hairs. This causes darkening of the skin, localized pain, itching, and growth of solid or pus-filled bumps.
If you keep scratching, picking, or squeezing ingrown hairs, it might lead to a minor or serious infection. You see, according to WebMD, around 25 percent of healthy individuals carry staphylococcus aureus in their genitals.
This germ is normally harmless, but when there’s a break in your skin—through picking or scratching your ingrown hair—abscess could develop. If not drained immediately, blood infection (sepsis) could happen.
- 1 Causes of Ingrown Hair on Vagina
- 2 Tips on Preventing Ingrown Pubic Hair
- 3 Tips on Treating Ingrown Pubic Hair
Causes of Ingrown Hair on Vagina
Using the Wrong Hair Removal Techniques
Shaving is the major culprit behind ingrown hairs. And the risk is increased when you stretch your skin while shaving, causing the cut pubic hair to retract into the skin.
Using a twin-blade or multiple-blade razor may also add to the problem because the second (third, fourth, or fifth) blade could cut hair underneath your skin and allow it to grow back inside and become an ingrown.
Another mistake people commit is going against the natural growth pattern of their hair when shaving or waxing. Whenever you do this, you’ll increase the risk of breaking off your hair and allow dead skin cells to clog your hair follicles, which traps the broken hair inside and become an ingrown.
Not Exfoliating Before Shaving
Pubic hairs grow sideways into the skin and become an ingrown when there’s too much dead skin cells blocking the mouth of your hair follicles. Exfoliating before shaving is the first step to preventing ingrown hair on vaginal area.
You can use exfoliating gloves or a soft cloth to get rid of dry, dead skin.
Some people have natural oily skin, which is prone to ingrown hair because the increased production of sebum (natural oil) causes hair follicle blockage and makes it harder for hair to grow out of the pore. People who have thick, stiff and/or wavy hair, such as African-American people, are more likely to have persistent problems with ingrown hair.
Changes in Hormone Levels
Changes in your hormone balance could trigger excessive growth of hair (hirsutism), such as in the case of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). People with naturally or abnormally thick hair, especially in the pubic area, are more ingrown-prone than people who have thin, fine hair.
Being Overweight or Obese
Do people on the heavy side get more ingrown hair? Apparently, there have been a few reports of overweight people having problems with ingrown hair on their legs or in the vaginal area.
According to a 2014 report, overweight or obese women are three times more likely to suffer from complications due to pubic hair removal. 
Tips on Preventing Ingrown Pubic Hair
Don’t remove any hair in the pubic area
This is the best way to prevent ingrown hair—unless you need to because of cosmetic or medical reasons. If this is not possible, switch to a hair removal method that lessens the risk of developing hair that is ingrown.
Here are a few examples:
Laser Hair Removal
Laser hair removal works by directing highly concentrated, pulsating light to an individual hair follicle. The intense heat of the laser light damages the follicle, which in turn slows down future growth of hair in a specific area of the body after several sessions. Others use this procedure as a safe, effective, and quick way to prevent ingrown hair from happening.
Pros of laser hair removal:
- One session rarely takes longer than one hour because of more effective machines. Each laser pulse covers a large area, such as the bikini area, at a fraction of a second.
- It precisely targets dark, coarse hair without damaging the surrounding skin.
- It’s a reliable and effective procedure, and it’s FDA-approved.
- Compared to waxing and hair pulling, it’s less painful. It does produce a stinging sensation— like a rubber band snapping against your skin—but it’s bearable.
- You’ll save money in the long term because this procedure causes a permanent reduction of hair.
Cons of laser hair removal:
- You need to undergo at least six to eight sessions to lessen or permanently remove hair from your pubic area. And there’s a possibility not all of your pubic hair would go away. They may grow back depending on your hormone levels and the type and texture of your hair.
- Darker-skinned individuals could suffer a burn because their skin pigments absorb more energy in the laser beam.
- It’s not as effective on individuals with blond, white, or gray hair. The pigments within hair follicles absorb the laser’s energy, causing their destruction. Light hair has less pigments, thus less energy is absorbed in order for the procedure to be effective.
Depilatory creams are a painless and inexpensive way of removing unwanted hair from your body. Since the hair is dissolved, not cut, getting ingrown hair on your pubic area are less likely compared to other hair removal methods (tweezing, waxing, shaving, etc.).
Caveat: Take note that not all depilatory creams are for removing pubic hair. Make sure you read the label and follow the manufacturer’s instructions exactly. Leaving it too long on your skin could cause burning.
Tips for using depilatory creams:
- Before using, apply a small amount of the product on a discreet part of your body, like your inner arm. Wait for one day to see if you’re allergic to the product.
- Don’t apply hair removal creams on sunburned skin or skin with cuts or scratches. The strong chemicals could irritate your skin and can be painful.
- Read the instructions carefully, and make sure to follow them exactly.
- Take a warm bath prior to using hair removal creams. This doesn’t only clean the area, but it also opens the hair follicles to allow the cream to penetrate deeper into your skin.
Pros of depilatory cream:
- It’s not painful, without the nicks and cuts that are common with shaving. Just make sure you read and follow the instructions to avoid side effects, such as red rash, chemical burns, and infection.
- The whole procedure doesn’t take too much time. Depending on the brand you use and your hair type, it takes 15 minutes maximum.
- It’s generally inexpensive. You could buy this anywhere between $5 and $50 from online shops, drugstores, and major retailers.
- Compared to shaving, it would take longer for your pubic hair to grow back.
Cons of depilatory cream:
- It’s not good for long-term use because it could irritate your skin due to prolonged exposure to its chemical ingredients.
- You might be allergic to the ingredients. If you don’t use it properly, you could suffer from severe chemical burns, rashes, itching, and other irritation problems.
Sugaring, also called Persian waxing and sugar waxing, is a hair removal technique that dates back in the days of Cleopatra. The ingredients used for sugaring include lemon juice, water, and sugar. You mix this to create a paste, which you spread over the skin just like regular waxing.
Compared to the usual type of waxing, sugaring is better because it’s less painful and irritating. The reason for this is the paste doesn’t stick too much to the skin and the technique itself follows the natural growth pattern of the hair (as opposed to the usual type of waxing).
Pros of sugaring:
- The ingredients are accessible and inexpensive. You may even have them already in your kitchen pantry. You can also buy sugaring hair removal kits at brick-and-mortar stores or online shops.
- It’s a quick and efficient hair removal technique. You can apply the paste to a larger area, so you can remove more quantities of hair at the same time. What’s more, it’s less painful compared to waxing or similar hair removal techniques.
- If done correctly, sugaring damages and weakens the hair follicles to remove them by the root. Meaning, your pubic hair would take longer to grow back. And if you keep doing it, it could produce permanent results.
- It’s suitable for sensitive skin. The ingredients used for making the sugaring paste are generally non-irritating. And since you apply the paste at room temperature, there’s no risk of burning. Just make sure an experienced person performs this method.
Cons of sugaring:
- It requires expert knowledge and skills. It’s best to find someone who’s more experienced at doing sugaring, especially on sensitive areas of your body. If not carried out well, you could suffer from skin burn, inflammation, and infections.
- Everybody has different pain thresholds, so this procedure might be painful for you.
- You need to grow your pubic hair ¼ inch or more for sugaring to work effectively.
Invest on a high-quality razor
Always use sharp razors with soothing moisture strips every single time you shave. Dull blades increase your risk for ingrown hair because they don’t create an exact, clean cut on the pubic hair. According to Sharpologist, it’s time to throw old blades after four shaves.
Don’t forget to rinse the blade after each stroke to prevent hair and skin flakes buildup, which increases your risk for infection and ingrown hairs.
Things to consider:
- A double-edge razor gives closer, smoother, and more precise shave. If you have sensitive skin, using fewer blades is better. A multiple-blade razor will remove too much skin, which causes irritation.
- Buy disposable razors with lubricating strips. The lubricant is usually made of polyethylene, which absorbs water to become slippery. This allows a close, comfortable shave without the cuts, burns, or bumps.
- Toss out your disposable razor after a few uses. The blades usually become dull after four to five shaves. A dull blade could cause or aggravate ingrown hairs.
- Use different brands of blades to find out which best works for your skin and hair. Here are a few examples of good razor brands:
- Blades from Feather, a Japanese brand, are the sharpest on the market. They can easily cut through coarse and thick hair.
- Derby blades are perfect for individuals with sensitive skin. These blades have a smooth cutting edge.
- The BIC blades are great for individuals with skin that’s susceptible to irritation due to blades that are too sharp.
- If you need a blade that’s more forgiving, use the Wilkinson Sword blade (from Germany). It offers a good balance of comfort and edge quality.
Prep the skin before hair removal
Two to three days before you shave, exfoliate first your pubic area to get rid of dead layer of skin cells. This will not only unclog your pores, but it would also help you get a closer shave. Depending on your skin type, age, and the weather in which you live, you can exfoliate once or twice per week.
Exfoliating tools could be mechanical (e.g. exfoliating gloves, washcloth, and loofah sponge) or chemical (e.g. salicylic acid, alpha hydroxy acids, and Retinoids). Each has its pros and cons, so it’s important to evaluate which works best for you.
Chemical peels are effective and produce consistent results, but they may be too harsh for people with sensitive skin.
During the actual time of shaving, make sure to trim your pubic hair to the shortest length possible (about ¼ inch long). Then wash the area with warm water to soften your pubic hair, so it’s easier to cut and to lessen your risk for razor burn and ingrown hairs.
Use the appropriate lubricating cream or gel for your skin and hair type to allow a smooth, comfortable, and irritation-free shave. For instance, if you have acne-prone or oily skin, shaving gels might be for you.
But if you have thick hair or sensitive skin, use shaving creams. Whichever it is, make sure that it includes natural moisturizing ingredients, like coconut oil and shea butter.
Clean and soothe the area when you’re done
Wash the area with warm water and antibacterial soap, and then put something cold on it for 10 to 15 minutes to prevent irritation. Apply over-the-counter anti-inflammation creams to calm the skin and prevent redness and inflammation.
Clean your razor blade with rubbing alcohol after rinsing it to kill most of the germs.
Tips on Treating Ingrown Pubic Hair
There’s no specific treatment for ingrown pubic hair since it usually heals on its own. However, if it’s troubling you or infection has developed, talk with your skin doctor (dermatologist) to get the proper treatment.
In most cases, he’ll make a little incision in your skin using a sterile needle or surgical knife to tease the hair out. He may also prescribe some medicines, like:
- Anti-inflammatories (e.g. hydrocortisone, betamethasone, and clobetasol): Your dermatologist may suggest a type of steroid cream to ease the swelling, redness, and pain. You may feel a burning or stinging sensation in the first two days of use, but it will usually get better as you keep using the steroid cream.
- Anti-infection creams or pills (e.g. antibiotics): If it’s a mild case of infection, your dermatologist will more likely prescribe an antibiotic ointment. In case of severe infection, you may have to take oral antibiotics or a combination of both oral and topical antibiotics.
- Retinoids (e.g. tretinoin): These medications will help unclog your hair pores by removing dead skin cells and reduce skin darkening and thickening, which are common symptoms of ingrown hairs. Common side effects of retinoids are peeling, flaking, redness, and sensitivity. To minimize its side effects, use it sparingly and occasionally until your skin gets used to it.
Laser hair removal could be a safe and quick way to prevent and treat ingrown hair, while reducing hair at the same time. It works by targeting the problem area and penetrating all the way down the hair follicles in order to damage and weaken them, which permanently affects their ability to produce hairs and eliminate ingrown hairs.
This procedure has a few side effects. But, if performed by a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon, it’s usually safe and effective. It works best on individuals with dark, coarse hair.
Other home treatment options:
Benzoyl peroxide is a standard treatment for mild to moderate acne. It works by unclogging pores and reducing the number of acne-causing germs. If combined with exfoliation, it could help treat pus-filled ingrown hairs.
Caveat: Use benzoyl peroxide according to your doctor’s instructions. Some side effects you can expect are drying, peeling, itching, and redness at the beginning of treatment. Don’t use this on skin that’s sunburned, windburned, or on areas of broken skin because irritation may occur. And always clean the affected area with regular soap and water before application.
If you have any green tea lying around in your kitchen, you might as well use it for treating your ingrown hair. Study shows that it possesses antimicrobial properties (especially against the Staphylococcus aureus) and anti-inflammatory properties. 
Green tea is also an astringent, which constricts body tissues to relieve swelling and pain.
How to use:
- Steep one green tea bag in 8 ounces of freshly boiled water for around 5 minutes.
- Remove the tea bag, and allow the tea to cool.
- Dip a cotton ball into the tea and apply on the ingrown hairs. No need to wash it off with water. Repeat this procedure twice or thrice daily.
Witch hazel is not only an effective astringent, but it also contains properties that repair broken skin and fight germs that live within your skin pores. Some people use this for swelling, pain (due to inflammation), and itching. In general, witch hazel is safe to use on the skin.
How to use:
- After shaving, dab a small amount of witch hazel on your pubic area to slow down bleeding (if there are cuts), soothe razor burn, and prevent ingrown hairs from forming and being infected.
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is an effective antifungal, antibacterial, and anti-skin allergy essential oil. Many studies show that it has the ability to treat skin infections caused by antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. 
How to use:
- For people who have sensitive skin, dilute 2 to 3 drops of tea tree oil with 2 teaspoons of any carrier oil (coconut oil, olive oil, or sweet almond oil).
- Apply a thin layer on your inner forearm then wait for at least half an hour for any allergic reactions. If none, massage a few drops of diluted tea tree oil into your ingrown hairs.
Caveat: Use products that have 5 percent or less tea tree oil in them. Using tea tree oil with more than 5 percent concentration could cause skin irritation.
Warm compresses help bring the pus to your skin’s surface, so it’s easier to drain it out. This shrinks infected ingrown hairs and stop the swelling and pain.
Caveat: Avoid applying a warm compress on your pubic area for over 20 minutes because of the risk of accidental burning.
Unfortunately, most people experience ingrown hair from time to time. The good news is that ingrown hair is usually non-life-threatening and easily treatable. There are people who are more prone to forming ingrown hairs, but there are different ways they can use to prevent this condition appropriately.
Are you prone to developing ingrown hairs, especially in your pubic area? What treatments have best worked for you? Don’t forget to share them below.