Many people, especially those with curly hair, and black people in particular, can develop ingrown hairs as a result of hair removal in the beard area.. The medical term for this condition is pseudofolliculitis barbae. It is often referred to as “razor bumps” or “shave bumps”.
Curly hair often lays at an angle to the skin once it emerges, so when a person shaves these hairs get sharpened at the ends if they are not cleanly shaved off. As the end of the hair continues to grow it can penetrate the intrafollicular skin, eliciting an inflammatory reaction and becoming an Ingrown Hair.
Waxing or plucking hairs can also lead to this inflammatory reaction.
The inflammation results in firm papules and pustules in the beard area. It can be very cosmetically distressing for the affected patients, and it can cause complications that include:
- post inflammatory pigmentation of the area
- secondary bacterial infection
- keloid formation
Laser hair removal utilizing a Nd-YAG long-pulse laser is an effective treatment for pseudofolliculitis barbae. It works through selective destruction of hair follicles, and results in a reduction in the density and thickness of hair. Multiple treatment sessions are usually required to achieve a major reduction in hair growth because only a minority of hair follicles are destroyed during each treatment. Since melanin is the follicular component targeted by hair removal lasers, patients with darkly pigmented hairs are the best candidates for this procedure. The treatment is not very effective for white or gray hairs.
Multiple lasers have demonstrated benefit for the treatment of ingrown hair or pseudofolliculitis barbae, most notably long-pulsed neodymium:yttrium-aluminum-garnet (Nd:YAG), diode, alexandrite, and ruby lasers.