Ingrown hairs are no good no matter where they’re located on your skin — they’re painful and can even become infected. But on your balls? They’re especially annoying.
If you’ve got ‘em, though, don’t despair just yet. Ingrown hairs, a.k.a razor bumps, a.k.a pseudofolliculitis barbae, occur when hair shafts curl back into the follicle they’ve emerged from, becoming trapped under the skin. Obviously, there’s little danger of long hair returning from whence it came, which is why ingrown hairs usually occur after close shaves. Curly hairs are more likely to become ingrown because of their shape, so that makes your pubic hair especially susceptible.
The good news is that ingrown hairs normally take care of themselves and disappear after a few days, but they can be quite uncomfortable until then, particularly if they’re rubbing against your underwear all day. They can be treated (more on that later), but the best treatment is to avoid getting them in the first place, and that starts by making sure you’re shaving your balls correctly.
First, make sure you’re shaving them in or after a hot shower, to help soften the hair. Find yourself a clean razor and apply Shave Butter — it’s clear, so you can see what you’re doing — to the area. “Shave only in the direction of the hair follicles,” advises dermatologist Anthony Rossi. “When you shave in both directions, it can leave a very short, pointed hair that has the potential to get stuck under the skin, which can lead to ingrown hairs and deeper, follicular razor bumps.” It’s all about getting the smoothest cut possible (this is also why it’s recommended you pull your sack taut before using your razor, to iron out all those wrinkles).
If you’re already suffering from razor bumps down there, try using our Rescue Serum, which helps reduce the appearance of shaving irritation, redness and bumps. Alternatively, Rossi recommends using an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream for a couple of days to reduce the swelling and itching.
You could also try to pull the ingrown portion of the hair out yourself with a pair of tweezers, but you’re much better off leaving well enough alone and letting it sort itself out — trying to remove the hair manually runs the risk of making it worse, or accidentally giving yourself an infection. If you do attempt this, be sure to sterilize the tweezers in boiling water for a full 15 minutes first. And if you pry the hair loose, don’t pluck it! If you do, chances are the new hair that replaces it will grow right back at the same angle, leaving you with the same problem.
Whatever else you do, make sure you take a break from shaving down there until your razor bumps are gone, because otherwise they’re not going anywhere, and they’re not going to get less painful, either. Finally, if you’re consistently getting razor bumps on your balls when you manscape, no matter how careful you are, maybe consider… not wet shaving them? “It’s better to trim the [pubic] hair rather than shaving it, to prevent ingrown hairs,” says Rossi. It might not be your first choice, but ask yourself: What’s more important to you, your scrotal vanity, or your testicular well-being?