The Best Methods For Combatting Ingrown Scalp Hairs

Always armed with a razor or a waxing strip? Then there's a good chance you've experienced ingrown hairs. These are the little bumps you get when your hair refuses to grow out and stubbornly curls back into your skin. They look like pimples and can cause irritation, inflammation, and even infection. And those of us with curly, coarse hair will fall victim to the ingrown hair predicament way too easily. 


But, when it comes to ingrown scalp hairs, there might be things you're doing to your scalp that are worsening them. Sporting a tight hairstyle in addition to bad hair removal methods can contribute to your ingrown scalp hairs. 

Unlike with other parts of your body, ingrown hairs on your scalp are difficult to detect because, well, you don't have eyes at the back of your head. But, if you have detected these small bumps, there are several methods you can follow to get rid of them, from exfoliation to prescription products. 

Exfoliating your scalp

We exfoliate to get rid of all the dirt, oil, and dead skin cells that are in the way of our hair growth route. And if you give up on the exfoliation and have a layer of dirt sticking around, your hair has nowhere to go but inwards, hence the ingrown hairs.


Just like other parts of your body, your scalp also needs exfoliation, especially if you have an oily scalp that's frequently experiencing product build-up. To exfoliate, you can use salicylic acid, which doubles as a solution for your acne and as a chemical exfoliant. You can use a shampoo, a scrub, or a cleanser that has salicylic acid in it. Make sure you are exfoliating regularly. Once or twice a week is the general rule, but it's important to understand how your scalp responds to the exfoliation process and to adjust the intervals accordingly.

Exfoliating your scalp will not only prevent ingrown hairs from happening, but it will also take care of your already present ingrown hairs. 

Don't cover up

If you have ingrown hairs on your scalp, it's understandable to want to reach for that hat or scarf to hide all the bumps and scars. But by covering up, you're not doing your ingrown hairs or your scalp any favors. 


The friction created by the fabrics you wear on your head will irritate your scalp and cause itchiness, more ingrown hairs, and inflammation. Furthermore, the lack of ventilation will encourage product build-up, creating a very sweaty, greasy situation that's perfect for your ingrown hairs to strive in. So, opt out of wearing caps, scarves, or any other head-coverings. If you don't, you'll never break out of the cycle of ingrown scalp hairs.

Your scalp health is just as important as your hair health when it comes to combatting ingrown scalp hairs. So make sure you're letting it breathe and giving it a massage whenever possible to boost blood circulation.

DIY remedies

You can make your own scrubs and serums to battle ingrown hairs by using ingredients you can find in your kitchen, as detailed on A coconut oil sugar scrub is the easiest to make. It's only a matter of combining sugar, coconut oil, and an essential oil of your choice, then applying it like a regular scalp scrub. A combination of oatmeal and baking soda also makes a good scalp mask for your ingrown hairs. Combine the two into a paste, apply on the affected area, and leave it on for 10 mins before rinsing off.


Tea tree oil can be used as a gentle serum when mixed with water. It will unclog your pores and reduce inflammation. You can use a combination of other oils, like castor oil and hemp oil, along with tea tree oil, to make an oil serum. Oil serums are more gentle on your scalp compared to scrubs, so if you have a dry scalp, go with the serum option when treating your ingrown scalp hairs.

Keep your hands off

Scratching our heads has never produced solutions to any of our problems. And in the case of ingrown hairs on your scalp, the situation can only get worse with every touch, so keep your hands off.

In addition to never being able to get rid of the cycle of ingrown hairs, by picking on and itching these bumps, you are inviting an infection. The dirt or bacteria from your nails can enter your body via the opening of a wound you created by scratching. An infection leads to other painful scenarios like inflammation and deeper scars. To stop this chain reaction, avoid the urge to scratch or pick.


Here's something you can try doing every time you get that itch to reach for your scalp: Place a hot compress on your targeted location. The heat will open up your pores and let the ingrown hair grow out of your skin (via Healthline). 

Avoid dry shaving

Hair removal methods are the number one cause of ingrown hairs. So, if you're shaving your head, you must learn how to do it the right way. Start by prepping your scalp; you have to wet it and use a gentle cleanser to get rid of any dirt or oil, making the shave easier. Dry shaving is a no-no. 


The next step is to apply shaving cream on your now moisturized scalp. Be generous with it and allow your hair to absorb its moisture. When picking a razor, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. Making sure it's sharp and clean should be your number one priority. And, if you want to go the extra mile, buy a razor that's specifically designed for head-shaving. 

When shaving, make sure you're shaving in the direction of your hair growth. Keep rinsing your razor throughout the process to avoid moving the razor back and forth in the same place. Remember to reapply shaving cream whenever there is dryness. After the shaving is done, rinse off any remaining shaving cream, pat your head dry, and apply a moisturizer. 


Prevent it

Preventing your ingrown hairs before they make an appearance will save you all the scars and all the pain of dealing with them. The Mayo Clinic advises avoiding shaving altogether for your best chances of prevention. But if you need to shave, using an electric razor is the best option. 


Maintaining good scalp health is one of the best things you can do in terms of prevention. This includes taking frequent showers, keeping your scalp moisturized, and using the right products in the right quantity. Regular showers will prevent the blockage of pores from dirt and oil, giving your hairs the space to grow out. Using shampoos and serums that have a soothing and nourishing effect on your scalp will also aid in maintaining good scalp health. So, look for ingredients such as aloe vera, tea tree oil, and green tea.

In addition to good scalp health, hair health also affects ingrown hairs. Remember to avoid tight hairstyles and brush your hair out with a wide-toothed comb.

Shutting down an infection

The worst-case scenario for your ingrown scalp hairs is an infection. As mentioned, the best way to avoid this is to refrain from touching your scalp at all. If you have to touch your ingrown hairs for any reason, use a tool, like tweezers, and make sure they've been disinfected. 


It's crucial to keep your scalp clean while you have ingrown hairs, so try not to skip on hair washing. Bacteria thrive in wet conditions, so in addition to keeping your scalp clean, make sure it's not sweating or wet for long periods of time. This may mean washing it a little more frequently than you're used to, especially if it's summer or you're going to the gym a lot. Don't let it sit too long after a workout without washing it.

To avoid infection, you can use an antibacterial cream or an antiseptic on the affected area pre-emptively, but this will be the best course of action if you do develop an infection. 

A trip to the doctor

Though you can treat ingrown hairs at home, it's important to know when you should consult a doctor. If you are experiencing inflammation that shows no signs of improvement or if the bumps on your skin are filled with pus, seeking professional help is the best option. You can consult a dermatologist for a prescription that will help with the inflammation. Depending on your condition, the treatment options may differ, so keep an open mind.


Ingrown hairs on your scalp are never a fun thing, but you're not completely helpless when it comes to making them go away. Prevention is always the best course of action, so take extra care when shaving and maintaining your general scalp health. Along with this, there are plenty of things out there you can do that will save you from all the scars and pain your ingrown hairs are bound to cause.