Everyone is cool with talking about the painful pimples that pop up on your face, but what about the large honkers on your bikini line? Yeah, let’s chat about the strange bumps that arise below the belt. The ones that hurt like hell and get aggravated by your underwear, tight jeans, and anything that happens to rub the wrong way. Most likely, your painful problem is caused by an ingrown hair.
“If the new growing hair is not able to pierce through the surface of the skin, it will curl inwards back down into the skin, which causes a red inflamed bump,” Christine Choi Kim, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in Santa Monica, CA, tells SELF. These trapped hairs typically work themselves out within a few days, but it can also get infected, causing folliculitis (a bacterial infection of the hair follicle that results in pus- filled red bumps). Shaving, waxing, depilatory creams, and even laser hair removal can lead to an ingrown hair. Moisture, bacteria, and friction (which are totally normal in the vaginal region) can further cause hair follicles to get infected and swell into a boil.
If you pull skin too tight when shaving, shave against the direction of hair growth, or make multiple passes with the razor, it increases your chances of getting razor bumps and an ingrown hair. The quality of your razor is also important when it comes to avoiding a boil or bacterial infection. Always shave with a clean blade and store your razors out of the shower, where the blade won’t dull and rust.
You can also get ingrown hairs from using a depilatory cream to dissolve the hair, waxing, or even laser hair removal. And it’s more likely for certain hair types. “If you have coarse, dark, dense hair, the boils are more likely to be bigger,” Will Kirby,D.O., FAOCD,and medical director at LaserAway, tells SELF. “Curly hair is more likely to spiral [under the skin] than fine, straight hair.” You can also be prone to these types of boils if you live in an area with excessive heat, wear a lot of tight clothing, or work in an occupation that requires a lot of sitting. So, what do you do to get rid of these painful bumps?
Don’t try to pop your bump with a safety pin or a needle.
These furuncles are often filled with pus, but the experts warn against attempting at-home surgery—no matter how much Grey’s Anatomy you watch, you’re not ready to wield a scalpel. “I seemore infections from people trying to drain their own boils rather than people just leaving them alone,” says Kirby.
Related: The Vajacial
Sure, it hurts. But you’re just going to make it worse. Instead, opt for a warm compress to try to encourage the boil to drain on its own. If the boil doesn’t go away after two weeks, make an appointment with your dermatologist, who can lance it. “I numb the area with a local anesthetic and then use a sterile lancet to make a small opening at the surface of the boil,” says Kim. “Then I use gentle pressure with my fingertips and gauze to express the contents of the boil.” Kirby also notes that he sends samples of the pus to the lab to potentially order an oral or antibiotic prescription.
You can prevent ingrown hairs by exfoliating your bikini line regularly.
To prevent bumps from happening around your bikini line, try [the Fuzz Skin Perfecting Body Scrub] regularly after hair removal. “For patients prone to razor bumps, I recommend a product that exfoliates the dead stratum corneum of the epidermis to allow new hairs to pierce through the skin surface, thus minimizing the ingrown hair phenomenon,” she says. “The ultimate treatment is to get rid of the hairs and the need to shave or wax with laser hair removal.”
And how do you know if the boil is just an ingrown hair and not something worse—like an STD?
“These bumps form around individual hair follicles,” says Kim. “If you have a sore or a rash that involves the skin in between individual hair follicles or where there is no hair, you should be evaluated.” Razor bumps, ingrown hairs, and boils aren’t the only bumps that can appear around your bikini line.
An unusual bump in that area could also be a benign mole, a simple skin tag, or a genital wart (and warts could be a sign of HPV). But all these things may look the same, so don’t attempt to shave it off. “Shaving causes little scratches. [Genital warts] like to spread in areas of irritated skin and areas of contact. So, you can set up an environment where you can make it spread,” says Kirby. “Be honest with yourself, if you see something down there that’s odd. It’s odd.” To be safe, make an appointment with a professional to have the bump biopsied.
Read the original article, via SELF magazine
Image via SELF Magazine.
Also see: Waxing 101