Can an Ingrown Hair Develop into a Cyst?

Understanding Ingrown Hairs

Ingrown hairs are a common occurrence when a hair curls back or grows sideways into the skin instead of upward. They often appear as small, red bumps and can cause discomfort or even pain. But can these pesky ingrown hairs escalate into something more serious, like a cyst?

The Potential for Cyst Formation

Yes, in some cases, an untreated ingrown hair can indeed lead to the formation of a cyst. When a hair follicle becomes blocked or infected, it can result in the accumulation of pus and other fluids, forming a cyst beneath the skin’s surface. Cysts are typically larger than ingrown hairs and may require medical intervention to resolve.

Identifying the Differences

It’s essential to differentiate between an ingrown hair and a cyst to determine the appropriate course of action. While both may present as raised bumps on the skin, there are distinct characteristics to look out for.

Ingrown Hair:

  • Typically smaller in size
  • Often accompanied by inflammation or redness
  • May be visible beneath the skin’s surface
  • Can be painful or itchy


  • Larger than an ingrown hair
  • May feel like a lump beneath the skin
  • Can be tender to the touch
  • May contain pus or other fluids

Prevention and Treatment

Preventing ingrown hairs is key to avoiding potential complications like cysts. Here are some tips to help minimize the risk:

  1. Exfoliate Regularly: Removing dead skin cells can help prevent hair follicles from becoming blocked.
  2. Use Proper Shaving Techniques: Shave in the direction of hair growth and avoid pressing too hard on the skin.
  3. Moisturize Daily: Keeping the skin hydrated can promote healthy hair growth and reduce the likelihood of ingrown hairs.
  4. Avoid Tight Clothing: Clothing that rubs against the skin can irritate hair follicles, increasing the risk of ingrown hairs.

If an ingrown hair does develop, there are several treatment options available:

  • Topical Creams: Over-the-counter creams containing ingredients like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide can help reduce inflammation and clear blocked follicles.
  • Warm Compresses: Applying a warm compress to the affected area can help soothe irritation and encourage the hair to emerge.
  • Professional Extraction: In some cases, a dermatologist may need to perform a minor procedure to extract the ingrown hair safely.


While ingrown hairs can be bothersome, they typically do not develop into cysts unless they become infected or severely inflamed. By practicing good skincare habits and promptly addressing ingrown hairs, you can minimize the risk of complications and maintain smooth, healthy skin. If you have concerns about persistent ingrown hairs or suspect the presence of a cyst, it’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice and treatment options.