- Ingrown hairs are typically caused by improper hair removal and/or not enough exfoliation.
- They can cause pain, inflammation and even scarring.
- Tea tree oil can be used to treat ingrown hairs and prevent infection.
Typically the result of hair removal practices, ingrown hairs can be painful, inflamed, and even leave hyperpigmented scars–particularly if you pick or squeeze them in an attempt to resolve the issue.
Although preventing ingrown hairs is the best way to avoid the skin irritation (and sometimes infection) associated with this common skin care problem, tea tree oil can be used to effectively treat ingrown hairs once they’ve occurred.
What Is Ingrown Hair and What Causes It?
When hair that has been removed begins to regrow, it sometimes curls inward and gets trapped back under the surface of the skin.
An ingrown hair usually appears as a small tan or pink bump under the skin, sometimes with a small dark pinpoint (the underlying hair) seen underneath. They can at times get infected, inflamed, itchy, and may contain pus. Pustules and abscesses may even form if there is bacteria on the skin.
The most common causes of ingrown hair include:
The most common type of ingrown hair is razor bumps. They typically occur in areas that are shaved (the face, armpits, legs, and pubic area). The issue may flare up with frequent shaving. Razor bumps are more commonly experienced by people of African descent, as it is more likely for curly hair to grow out and curl back into the follicle without ever leaving the skin.
- Dead skin buildup
Although ingrown hair is primarily caused by hair removal, it sometimes occurs naturally as the result of too much dead skin debris blocking the hair follicle. This can cause your hair to grow sideways and get trapped.
Can Tea Tree Oil Treat Ingrown Hair?
Yes, it can. Due to its potent antimicrobial, antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties, tea tree oil can help heal ingrown hairs and stave off infection.
How does it work?
Although tea tree oil will not stop ingrown hairs from forming (exfoliating is the best prevention), it can prevent the area from getting infected, and heal existing infections while helping to relieve redness and inflammation.
Tea tree oil’s many skin healing properties for the treatment of ingrown hair can be broken down into the following:
Tea tree oil has potent anti-inflammatory properties, helping to alleviate any redness and irritation.
Tea tree oil contains the antiseptic agent terpinen, which works to stop or slow the growth of bacteria, soothe the skin, and relieve itchy rashes.
Tea tree oil’s antioxidant properties protect against free radicals and prevent skin damage, reducing pain and stopping wounds from developing.
Those with ingrown hairs often pick or squeeze them to try and extract trapped follicles, creating small wounds. One study found tea tree essential oil can speed up wound healing.
How to Use Tea Tree Oil for Ingrown Hair
When purchasing tea tree oil, purchase a 100% pure, quality oil. If possible, buy organic. For best results, choose an oil with a terpinen concentration of 10 to 40%.
Dilute your tea tree oil with a carrier oil such as coconut or almond oil (10 drops of carrier oil for every 1 drop of tea tree) to avoid potential irritation.
It is always best to do a patch before using tea tree oil by applying a small amount to a small area of skin and waiting 24 hours.
To use tea tree oil for ingrown hair, try a tea tree oil soak.
Tea Tree Oil Soak
Tea tree’s oil’s antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties are effective at soothing, disinfecting, and healing ingrown hairs, while warm water helps to open up pores, loosening ingrown hair.
- 8 oz. warm distilled water
- 20 drops tea tree oil
- Dip a clean washcloth into your formula of tea tree oil and warm water, squeeze out the cloth, and apply it to the affected area.
- Repeat this process twice a day.
Other Essential Oils for Ingrown Hairs
If tea tree oil causes skin irritation, or you would simply like to explore other natural treatments for ingrown hairs, consider trying these other essential oils:
Peppermint oil can provide relief from skin irritation. It has been shown effective at reducing itching sensations with its cooling, soothing effects.
German chamomile (matricaria recutita) has been found to be an effective skin moisturizer that lubricates, which in turn helps prevent ingrown hairs.
Lemongrass (cymbopogon citratus, stapf) oil can be used for its antibacterial, astringent, and skin rejuvenating properties, helping to disinfect and resolve ingrown hairs.
By keeping your skin exfoliated, moisturized, and clean, the occurrence of ingrown hairs can be reduced or prevented.
Essential oils like tea tree oil can be useful in soothing, treating, and preventing the infection of ingrown hairs.
If your ingrown hairs persist or become infected and do not respond to DIY treatments, be sure to talk to your doctor about other treatment options.
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