If you are unfamiliar with the lifecycle of a cold sore, it can be confused with other skin conditions. The appearance of an ingrown hair (especially if it has somehow become infected) shares some visual similarities to the untrained eye.
In fact, cold sores and ingrown hairs do have a few things in common. Both conditions are treatable, but knowing how to identify the differences is essential to treatment selection and faster healing.
In this guide, you will learn why people get ingrown hairs. You’ll find out how to tell the difference between an ingrown hair and a cold sore. Finally, you’ll learn how to heal the area and some prevention methods.
Table of Contents:
The bending and re-entering of facial hair that has been cut is the cause of ingrown hair.
It can occur in any location on the body. The hair curls downward into the skin and then becomes trapped. Those who have naturally coarse or curly hair are more likely to suffer from this issue.
Ingrown hair can become a recurring issue for some. This is especially true for African-American and Latino men.
Additionally, those (more notably men) who have increased hormone levels are more susceptible to ingrown hair. This is due to excessive hair growth and the constant need to trim or shave facial and body hair.
When ingrown hair becomes a more problematic issue, a condition known as pseudofolliculitis barbae can develop. Commonly known as razor bumps, those affected encounter ingrown hair seemingly after every shave.
This problem is caused by cut hair returning very stiff and with a sharper edge. This type of hair is more likely to curve and re-enter this skin, hence the reasons that it has become trapped under the surface.
Cold sores follow a distinct cycle. This is the most critical way you can tell them apart. From the initial tingle sensation until the flaking away of the scab, cold sores follow a process. While you can speed up this process with an OTC treatment, the cycle will still occur. Cold sores, especially during initial occurrence, can also produce other symptoms. These include fever, headache, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes.
On the flipside, the blisters and bumps associated with an ingrown hair will appear. The initial sign of pain will usually be due to the nodule itself. There is no early sensation to warn you nor will there be other symptoms such as fever or fatigue.
Additionally, even when occurring on the fringe of the lips, ingrown hairs will not spread. The problem areas that are produced are quite localized. This is not always the case with cold sores due to viral spreading.
Another way to tell cold sores apart from ingrown hairs is the impact natural hair growth will have in the area. In many cases, a sore caused by an ingrown hair will begin to diminish as the hair continues to grow. Because hair growth and cold sores are irrelevant, growing a mustache, for example, will not ease your fever blister.
Yes, if you poke at the bumps and blisters that have formed. While it is doubtful that anyone would purposely cause harm to their skin, curiosity can get the best of everyone at times. It is better to avoid touching the area.
Squeezing the problem area can also result in a painful infection. This can lead to skin damage and potentially result in a scar.
Folliculitis, which is the name for the most common infection caused by an ingrown hair, typically heals without treatment in a matter of days. If you think you have an infection of this nature, your best course of action is to avoid shaving for a few days. As briefly noted earlier, hair growth can push out some ingrown hairs thus rectifying the situation naturally.
If you are looking for specific medical solutions to heal an infection, the use of a mild antiseptic is often helpful. The inclusion of tea tree oil can also serve to promote positive healing.
While rare, antibiotics can be administered if an infection becomes severe and fails to diminish naturally or with treatment.
While ingrown hairs will typically heal on their own in a reasonably short period, you can remove them safely. You might find this useful if you have multiple ingrown hairs on a regular basis.
Noted below are just a few proven ways to remove ingrown hairs and heal your skin:
Although most every man has encountered an ingrown hair from time-to-time, there are ways to prevent an occurrence. Robust prevention methods are essential, especially when you are learning how to shave and have naturally problematic skin.
Listed below are several ways you can not only prevent ingrown hair but also protect your skin from dryness and abrasions:
Take good care of your skin. Although cold sores appear due to a virus, protecting your skin can potentially decrease your outbreaks. Additionally, as it relates to ingrown hair, keeping your skin clean and your blade sharp can produce quality results.