I am a Slavic American with super curly hair and very sensitive skin. With this delightful combo, there is one skin condition for which I am very intimately acquainted: ingrown hairs. Also known as razor bumps, these little suckers like to pop up anywhere on my body from my bikini line to my chin, because I'm just that lucky. When I was pregnant, my skin really did glow at times, but the bumps remained, and I wasn't keen to dig them out, fearing infection. But are there natural ways to get rid of ingrown hairs while pregnant that don't include needles or medicine?
If you search the web for natural remedies for ingrown hairs you will be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of ideas out there. Everything from the ubiquitous essential oils to a baking soda paste are set up as possible solutions. I even found one study that looked at the use of camel milk in the treatment of ingrown hairs. However, are they safe to use while pregnant? (Also, how do you milk a camel?)
There isn't a lot of literature out there on the efficacy or safety of these treatments, so I contacted a dermatologist to find out the best ways to treat these pesky little buggers naturally.
Dr. Rachel Nazarian of Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City tells Romper, "Ingrown hairs, or inflammation of the hair follicle called folliculitis, is a very common condition during pregnancy." In a quick, informal survey of my friends, most experienced more ingrown hairs and razor bumps during pregnancy than they usually do. Nazarian says this happens because "generally, in a state of pregnancy people gain weight, and typically their clothes fit tighter, causing increased pressure on their skin. The rubbing of skin, such as along inner thighs, buttocks, or the lower abdomen, also increases the likelihood of getting ingrown hairs."
I believe she's too kind to mention that you can't see half of what you're shaving, so you're not doing the greatest job. I know I was flying blind in some areas.
As far as natural ways to get rid of ingrown hairs while you're pregnant, your best bet is to prevent them in the first place. Nazarian suggests to women that they can do this by "keeping skin cool and dry, and wearing looser fit clothing." She believes these are easy behavioral changes that can be made to decrease the chances of triggering ingrown hairs. I think she just confirmed my favorite theory of pregnancy right here: no pants are the best pants.
Beyond prevention, Nazarian says that most of the "at home" or "natural remedies" that you read about on the internet are best forgotten. "Topical anti-inflammatory ingredients can also be used to decrease the irritation that accompanies this condition. Although many people attempt home remedies (strawberries, honey, baking soda, etc.) to treat this condition, it is strongly not advised due to risk of damaging the delicate pH balance of the skin and making the condition worse." So maybe leave the honey and strawberries in your cereal, and don't rub them on your irritated area. (I should have asked her about the camel milk.)
However, she's not totally anti-natural ingredient for prevention, within limits. Nazarian says there are just better ways to do it. "I will typically recommend my patients use a daily skin powder to absorb sweat and moisture, minimize chaffing, and avoid irritation of these delicate hairs. (Gold bond powder is a perfectly good option, and easy to find). For a super natural option, adding oatmeal to your bath, or using an oatmeal-based bath wash, can work as a natural anti-inflammatory and calm flaring folliculitis."
And there's one item to add to the list of more natural ways to get rid of ingrown hairs while you're pregnant: green tea. Nazarian notes that "green tea contains a high level of natural anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatories, and is safe for skin. Apply chilled green tea bags (after they’ve been soaked in water first) to the inflamed area for about five minutes. Redness and irritation should decrease with each use."
If ingrown hairs are really bothering you, see a dermatologist. They have medicine that can help and are safe for pregnancy. Don't wait until you're already in pain; see them when you notice it's a problem. Otherwise, maybe make an oatmeal bath bomb? Just have someone help you in and out of the tub. It's not exactly easy when you're a million weeks pregnant.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.