How to Treat Ingrown Hairs on the Scalp

If you shave your head, you may experience ingrown hairs as a result. Once a hair is shaved, its tip becomes sharp. As the hair grows out, it may curve toward the scalp and pierce the skin. Your body then treats the hair like a foreign object and the area becomes red and inflamed. The bump over the ingrown hair may hurt and itch.

Step 1

Grow your hair out. If you must keep it short, use barber clippers or scissors to trim it instead of shaving it with a razor. The University of Mississippi Health Care recommends keeping your short hair at a length of 1/8 to 1/4 inch.

Step 2

Avoid wearing hats or anything else on your head. Sweat and objects rubbing against the ingrown hair bump will irritate it and prevent the ingrown hair from healing quickly.

Step 3

Shampoo your hair daily to remove dead skin cells and keep your scalp clean. Even if you don’t have hair, wash your scalp daily. While you are shampooing, rub your scalp with a toothbrush or rough washcloth to try to tease the ingrown hair out of the skin.

Step 4

Place a hot compress on your scalp for 15 minutes three times per day. Hot compresses will help the bumps to drain.

Step 5

Apply hydrocortisone cream to the bumps two to three times per day. Be sure to rub it in well so it doesn’t dry on your hair and leave a white film. The hydrocortisone cream reduces inflammation and helps control itching.

Step 6

Resist the urge to pick at the ingrown hair, since you can’t easily see it. Hyperpigmentation and scarring can result from trying to dig out a deeply ingrown or embedded hair.

Things You'll Need

  • Barber clippers

  • Scissors

  • Shampoo

  • Toothbrush

  • Washcloth

  • Hot compress

  • Hydrocortisone cream


If the ingrown hairs don’t respond to self-treatment, contact a dermatologist to determine if you need prescription medications. Some ingrown hairs may need to be treated with antibiotics, corticosteroids or retinoids.

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