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JohnnyBeIngrowne

Severly ingrown body hairs/cysts/folliculitis??

I'm a 38yo white male, moderately active (desk job + working out, hiking, etc.), oily skin. I've have had minor acne all my life... EXCEPT... I also get lumps of ingrown hairs on my body -- mostly on my back (towards the sides) and butt, but sometimes on my arms, shoulders, or legs. These are not areas I shave, and thankfully my face only has a few normal whiteheads. These ingrown body hairs looked like normal skin-colored lumps, not red at all, with some sebum and a few dozen dark hairs curled up inside -- a nasty little hair donut. I could almost always lance the lumps whenever they bothered me, squeeze them, and get out all the hairs and sebum. This has caused some scarring, to be sure, but they almost never got infected. I just won't ever be an underwear model. :boohoo::snooty:

A couple years ago, I started getting more ingrown hairs on my chest (mostly underneath my pectorals). And these are different... They are VERY deep, like half an inch deep, and while I can lance them and usually squeeze some sebum out, I can't squeeze any hairs out at all. They are absolutely stuck. I can, however, work a pin underneath the hairs and sorta pry some out, but I only get a few out at a time -- and I have to pull hard, until the hairs break free from the rest of the hairball. They are very fine (like cat hairs), unpigmented hairs, unlike before, and there are hundreds of them. I can literally spend hours pulling hairs out of one lump, and of course it leaves a pretty good scar after this sort of treatment. The lumps on my back and butt seem to have advanced to this type of "deep cyst" as well. They don't hurt, and they're hard to see, but it has always bugged me to have something GROWING UNDER MY SKIN, ya know? I probably have a hundred of these lumps now on my chest, back, and butt cheeks.

I don't know how common this condition is, as almost all the info I can find on ingrown hairs relates to shaving. I can take pictures if it'll help, but man this is pretty nasty...

So I'm not sure what to do. First, I don't even know what these cysts ARE or what causes them. Are they Pityrosporum Folliculitis? I don't think so, because salicylic acid seems to help a little, but I haven't tried anything anti-fungal yet. Are they Keratosis Pilaris? The lumps aren't red at all. (But, then again, a high protein diet seems to make them worse.) Or just... "regular" acne that has plugged up the hair follicles? This can't go cancerous on me, can it??

Then how do I deal with them? I feel like if I leave them alone, which is certainly best short-term, they'll just keep growing and growing, forming larger and deeper cysts in the long run. But if I lance them, they will scar -- I can't even dig all the hairs out anyhow. (I've even tried making an incision with a scalpel, but they're just too deep.) And I'll keep getting more lumps regardless until I discover the cause.

I've been trying to keep the follicle pores clear by squeezing the gunk out of them. Of course this makes the whole area red and the skin condition much more noticeable. I also use an OTC salicylic acid scrub and a loofah to exfoliate almost every day. Seems to help, but it takes over a month to see results so the lag time makes it hard to judge.

Any ideas?? For now, I think I'll try soaking my ass in sea salt. Can't hurt...

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It is possible to get ingrown hairs in areas that aren't shaved. I've gotten them before but nothing of the sort of what you have. I'm also female so obviously less hairy. Have you spoken to a dermatologist before about it? The quicker you go and possibly get some sort of preventative treatment for it the faster you will stop creating new scars.

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Here is a vote for sebaceous cysts. Please go to your doctor (family practice is fine) for a definitive diagnosis and please STOP digging in those spots yourself. If you don't have perfectly sterile technique (and you WILL NOT at home) you could end up with severe infections that can enter your bloodstream and require hospitalization. Some infections like that end up attacking the heart (endocarditis), some the lungs, and others even the brain. PLEASE STOP PERFORMING SURGERY ON YOURSELF.

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Thanks for the replies. I wasn't sure if this was a common thing or rare, as it seems to be. I've stopped the self-surgery anyhow, FWIW, as it's impossible to get all the hairs out, and I just end up making a mess of myself. I'm pretty sure that what's happening is that a plug of oil/sebum/skin cells clogs the hair follicles and blocks the hair from escaping, so it turns back inwards and continues to grow, grow, grow into a subcutaneous hairball. I can't explain why there are so many hairs in each lump or why they're so fine and unpigmented, however. Nor can I explain why *exactly* the pores are getting plugged or with what material.

After poking around the forums, I tried applying Head and Shoulders, and it certainly does improve the appearance of my skin. I can't tell whether it prevents the ingrown hairs, though, because each one probably has to grow for over a month before I can notice it -- so there ends up being too much time lag between treatment and results for me to make a correlation. Hope that makes sense.

Thanks again for the replies; I'll get w/ my doctor. Hey, maybe I'll get a new skin condition named after me! (I like to think positive... :dance: )

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Is there a scientific name for two hairs growing out of one hair follicle? Is this a normal thing or not? I have noticed around my upper thigh area and pubic region (*ahem*) that if I do get an ingrown hair, when I do fix them, there are TWO hairs growing out of one follicle...

Is this a condition/disorder? Am I a freak of nature? Anyone heard of this or have this issue?

Johnny-does this happen to you when you have opened up any of these cysts??

Maybe I should get to my Dr. too....

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Is there a scientific name for two hairs growing out of one hair follicle? Is this a normal thing or not?

I think that's normal. I have two, sometimes three.

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Johnny-does this happen to you when you have opened up any of these cysts??

Nah, I think your thing is pretty normal and very different from mine. When I open a cyst up, I find a plug of sebum (which I believe originally prevented the hair from growing out normally) and hundreds of fine hairs curled up into a little donut or disc.

Have you changed the kind of soap you are using at all? Or laundry detergent...starch for ironing...anything that would come into contact with something that touches your skin...it could be that it's irritating your skin and worsening the condition and number of your ingrown hairs.

No, and actually the skin doesn't appear irritated -- unless I pick at it, of course. I just get ... these lumps. They feel like little discs beneath my skin. No foul odor at all when I open one.

I've had some ingrown hair acne since puberty, but the deep cysts showed up like a year ago. The only recent thing I can think is that I started back lifting weights a couple years ago and, to support that endeavor, I dramatically increased the amount of protein in my diet. For a while I was convinced it was Keratosis Pilaris, but none of the other symptoms match ("chicken skin", red lumps, etc.).

It's also possible that the deep cysts are just ingrown hair acne that's been left alone for many years, so I'm just now noticing them. Or maybe I just recently developed the technique for (partially) extracting them. (If you poke with a needle and squeeze a deep cyst, you may get some sebum out, but you'll never get hairs out, because they're *stuck* -- you gotta "pry" them out with a needle. A miniature crochet needle, with a hook, would work way better.)

I sorta feel like this is the downside to my naturally oily skin + high testosterone. (People think I'm 10 years younger and using steroids, haha) Keeps me looking young and in shape, but I get these godawful hair cysts. All is one with the cosmos.... :yinyang::ninja::yinyang:

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