An ingrown hair and a boil are two totally different conditions with different symptoms and causes, though both can begin as small bumps on the body. Ingrown hairs occur when a hair starts growing into the skin, and they usually result in very small red bumps. A boil is a kind of skin infection generally caused by the staph bacteria. One major difference between an ingrown hair and a boil is that boils are generally much more severe, producing a larger bump and more serious infection.
Sometimes an ingrown hair can lead to a skin infection, but it is not the same as a boil, and it’s generally smaller. There are exceptions where an ingrown hair and a boil may look very similar, but it isn’t common. Boils can happen in oil glands and hair follicles, and they are caused by a wide variety of different things, many of which are preventable. Ingrown hairs often occur in areas where the clothing confines, like the underwear, and they are often caused when people don’t follow the right procedures during shaving.
Boils can actually be a sign of some fairly severe disorders, including diabetes and conditions that weaken a person’s immune system. There are also some relatively benign and preventable boil causes, and just about anybody can occasionally develop a boil. One common cause of boils is bad hygiene, which can result in bacterial buildup in certain areas of the body. People can also get boils because of allergic reactions to difference chemicals, and some people are more vulnerable to boils because of dietary issues.
One thing that an ingrown hair and a boil have in common is that they will both often heal without treatment. A boil will gradually become larger, filling with pus until eventually the skin breaks and the pus drains out. After that, a person will generally recover without difficulty, although some people may develop more severe infections requiring antibiotic treatments.
Ingrown hairs often go away without any special efforts. In cases where they don't, it's often easy to deal with them through the use of non-prescription remedies. It’s also generally true that people may have a lot of ingrown hairs for a long time without ever developing any severe pain or discomfort, so individuals may not realize they have a problem with them, especially if the bumps aren't in a readily visible area.
How To Prevent Boils
Boils are not entirely avoidable, but there are specific steps individuals may take to stop them from developing. First, it is crucial to keep your immune system strong. A healthy body is less susceptible to harmful bacteria and infection, so eat healthy foods and take vitamins. Second, you should clean your body and your surroundings.
Use Antibacterial Products
Wash your face often with antibacterial soap to prevent bacteria from forming on your skin. Maintaining proper hygiene can reduce the risk of hair follicle infection and prevent boils from developing.
If you have sensitive skin, a medical professional might recommend using a specialty cleanser like Phisoderm to help maintain healthy skin. When showering, use a loofah brush to remove buildup and oil clogs from around irritated hair follicles.
Don't Squeeze It
To prevent a pilonidal cyst, avoid stressing the buttock area when a surrounding hair follicle becomes irritated.
Wash and dry your skin with regular soap and hot water. Using an antiseptic, such as benzoyl peroxide, may also be beneficial.
Use Oral Medication
Your doctor might give you pills that reduce your risk of getting abscesses. Antibiotics, especially, will help you not get abscesses by preventing the chances of infection in your skin.
Consider Surgical Removal
A case of hidradenitis suppurativa or recurrent pilonidal cysts may require surgical intervention. If the disease is severe and there are complications, a plastic surgeon may need to provide additional surgery on a boil or a cyst.
When To See a Doctor for Boil Symptoms
Try some home remedies at the first signs of boils, which include redness, itching, and a tender area on your skin that resembles a pimple or blister. These include neem oil, castor oil, and Epsom salts. However, you should see your doctor if your boil doesn't disappear in about two weeks.
How To Prevent Ingrown Hairs
Ingrown hairs can occur anywhere on your body, but they're most common on the legs, under the armpits, and around the jawline. If you notice ingrown hair as hairs start to grow again—whether from waxing or shaving—you might consider removing them.
Medical experts concur that dead skin cells are the leading cause of ingrown hairs. Exfoliation weekly will help prevent the buildup of dead skin cells on the skin's surface, making you more prone to ingrown hair.
Use products that contain lactic acid and micro-dermabrasion granules to remove dead skin cells. Your skin will become softer and less susceptible to ingrown hairs after that.
Use Hair Removal Lotions
Ingrown hairs are caused by shaving, which makes sense because when the hair regrows, it has a sharper edge and can readily push back into the skin.
You can prevent ingrown hairs by allowing your hair to grow freely without shaving it. However, if you'd rather de-fluff, there's a delicate hair removal treatment that may be right for you.
Use Shaving Lotion
Finding the proper shaving foam for your manual razor can make all the difference. It will provide extra slip to your skin, preventing blades from dragging and avoiding irritating sensitive areas. Choose an alcohol-free, sensitive formula to avoid drying out your skin.
Shave in the Direction of Hair Growth
When shaving against the direction of hair growth, each hair is cut at a steeper angle, increasing the likelihood that it may reappear under your skin. To avoid this, always shave in the direction of hair growth.
Leave It Alone
It is advisable to leave minor ingrown hairs alone; they usually go away on their own. If the hair is visible and near the skin, gently pluck it out with sterile tweezers.
If a hair is deeply buried beneath the skin's surface, don't try to find it by digging; instead, speak with your doctor first. It pays to be safe rather than sorry!
When To See a Doctor for Ingrown Hair Symptoms
If you have ingrown hair that is mildly infected, it may go away on its own. If not, or if the infection fails to improve after the first week, you should seek medical attention.
During an examination of your skin, the doctor can determine whether the ingrown hair is infected. Some severe cases may require treatment with antibiotics. You can also reduce ingrown hairs through lifestyle changes suggested by your doctor.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is ingrown hair?
A hair follicle that has grown back into the skin as opposed to outward is known as an ingrown hair. This problem is most often seen in places like the face, armpits, and legs when hair is eliminated by shaving or waxing. Ingrown hair signs and symptoms might include redness, itching, and soreness.
What is a boil?
A boil is an inflammation of the skin caused by bacteria. Usually, it will have a red, painful lump that is pus-filled. Everywhere on the body might develop a boil, but the face, neck, armpits, and buttocks are the areas where they appear most often. Boils may be very painful and need medical attention.
What are the differences between an ingrown hair and a boil?
The cause of the problem is the main difference between an ingrown hair and a boil. A boil is brought on by bacteria, but an ingrown hair is brought on by hair that has grown back into the skin. Ingrown hairs may also be itchy, red, and sore, but boils often produce a red, tender lump that is filled with pus.
Are ingrown hairs contagious?
No, ingrown hairs are not contagious. They are caused by hair that has grown back into the skin and thus cannot be spread from one person to another.
Are boils contagious?
Yes, boils are contagious. They are brought on by bacteria, which can be transmitted from one person to another through contact with the infected area. It is essential to keep the affected area covered and avoid contact with other individuals to avert the spread of the infection.