Ingrown hairs in the pubic area can sometimes form cysts — sacs of fluid beneath the skin. A person may notice a lump, possibly with a hair visible beneath it. It may also be itchy. Cysts often go away without treatment, but some will need antibiotics or draining.
An ingrown pubic hair cyst is usually no cause for concern. A person may choose to have a cyst drained, or a doctor may make a small incision to free the trapped hair.
These cysts may go away on their own. A doctor may only recommend treatment if the cyst seems infected or is causing issues such as pain.
Below, learn how ingrown pubic hair cysts form, how to identify and prevent them, and when to contact a doctor.
An ingrown hair is a strand of hair that grows into, rather than out of, the skin. It usually happens after the person shaves, waxes, or tweezes the hair.
Coarse or curly hairs are most likely to grow inward, but this can happen with any hair type.
An area with ingrown hairs may have little reddish bumps, which may itch. It might be possible to see the hair trapped within the skin.
Over time, an ingrown hair may develop into a cyst — a sac of fluid beneath the skin.
Ingrown hairs tend to develop in areas of hair removal, including the pubic area.
An ingrown hair cyst is a lump beneath the skin. It will not have a visible head and may be red, white, or yellow. The cyst may also be painful or tender to the touch.
Most types of cyst look very similar. An ingrown hair cyst starts out as a small, red bump. Many people call these bumps razor bumps or razor burn, and their medical name is pseudofolliculitis.
Over time, a bump, usually just one, may get bigger and form a cyst.
An ingrown pubic hair cyst develops anywhere in the pubic area. It may result, for example, from removing hair from the bikini line.
Each strand of hair grows in a follicle beneath the skin. When people wax or shave, they only remove the strands of hair, not the follicles.
When the hair regrows, it may become trapped within the skin, growing farther inward instead of outward and forming a little bump.
Sometimes, skin cells and a fibrous substance called keratin, a protein in hair and nails, collect within the lump. Over time, the buildup forms a cyst.
Skin cysts are not usually dangerous, and they may go away on their own. They can, however, become inflamed or infected.
A dermatologist may recommend draining the fluid from the cyst by making a small incision.
If a cyst becomes inflamed or infected, a doctor might suggest a steroid injection or antibiotics. Also, a steroid cream may help reduce swelling or irritation.
Sometimes, a doctor uses a small needle or blade to free the ingrown hair.
Anyone who has an ingrown hair or resulting cyst should avoid scratching, picking, or squeezing it. This can damage the skin and lead to an infection.
According to the United Kingdom’s National Health Service, a person should contact a healthcare provider if:
- The area around the ingrown hair is very painful, hot, red, or swollen.
- They have a high fever or otherwise feel very unwell.
- They are unsure whether the issue is ingrown hairs, and it occurs frequently.
The best way to prevent ingrown hairs is to avoid shaving and waxing. If a person wants to remove hair, it may help to switch to a hair removal cream or laser treatment.
For people who prefer to continue shaving, the following tips can reduce the risk of ingrown hairs:
- Wet the skin with warm water first.
- Always use shaving gel or foam.
- Use as few strokes of the razor as possible.
- Rinse the razor after every stroke.
- Do not shave too close.
- Never use a blunt razor.
- Shave in the direction of hair growth.
- After shaving, hold a cool, wet cloth to the skin.
- Use an exfoliating body scrub to release any trapped hairs.
Ingrown hairs can form anywhere on the body with hair. “Ingrown” means that a strand of hair grows back into the skin, rather than out of it.
Shaving and waxing are the most common causes of ingrown hairs. At first, a person may notice a series of small bumps, which may be reddish and itchy. These patches of ingrown hairs are called razor burn.
One ingrown hair may form a cyst — a red, yellow, or whitish lump beneath the skin.
These cysts are usually no cause for concern, and they may resolve on their own. A doctor may only recommend treatment if a cyst causes pain or other symptoms, or if it becomes infected or inflamed.
The best way to prevent ingrown pubic hairs is to not shave or wax the area.