Aunt Vadge: I plucked my pubic hair and now have red bumps – why?

Hi Aunt Vadge,

So I was plucking my pubic hair yesterday and today there are a ton of red bumps? Do I have ingrown hairs? I have plucked my pubic hair before and I have been just fine. What’s going on?

Best,
Plucked
Age: 15
Country: United States, California

Dear Plucked,

Plucking a hair out means causing a small amount of inflammation to the hair follicle. This is called folliculitis, with the ‘itis’ meaning inflammation, so inflammation of your follicle. That’s what you are currently experiencing. When you yank a hair out, the amount of inflammation it causes will depend on where in the hair growth cycle the hair shaft is, which is why you have plucked your pubic hair before without issue.

Let me explain.

Most of your hairs are produced by follicles every 6-8 weeks. The hair starts to grow up, pushes the hair that came before it out (sets it free, and it sheds in the bath or on the floor or on a towel, you won’t even notice), and the new hair starts its journey outwards. If you pluck a hair when it is still firmly attached to your follicle, as in, has not finished its growth cycle, it will cause more inflammation when you yank it out.

If the hair was nearly finished its growth cycle, it’ll come out much more easily, without any or much inflammation, because it was nearly ready anyway and not as firmly attached.

This is probably why you have the tiny bumps.

All your pubic hairs have different growth cycles, so while some are in their infancy, others will be ready to fall out. It can be hard to tell where a hair is at, especially if you shave or use other methods of hair removal in between. A full-grown stumpy hair that has had its top shaved off looks just like a new hair with its top shaved off.

Unfortunately there is no hard and fast rule or guidelines for plucking pubic hair and not getting inflammation, but you can certainly reduce the inflammation you do experience by applying an ice pack, some calamine lotion, or soothing the area with aloe vera gel. It’s not going to magically take away the inflammation – that will occur over a period of days post-pluck – but at least you can feel like you are doing something, if you need that.

You also don’t want to risk infections in your hair follicles, like staph, so try to avoid causing inflammation like this in future. If you do a test patch and find it’s sore, leave it for a few days or a week and try again.

There can be other factors involved in these little red bumps, but folliculitis seems the most obvious for now. If the bumps don’t go away, start to weep or bleed, or the area starts to feel hot or seems infected, please see a doctor to be examined sooner rather than later. All kinds of bugs can get into inflamed, open skin. The less open/raw/inflamed your skin, the better.

Warmest regards,
Aunt Vadge

Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica is a degree-qualified naturopath (BHSc) specialising in vulvovaginal health and disease, based in Melbourne, Australia.

Jessica is the owner and lead naturopath of My Vagina, and is a member of the:

  • International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD)
  • International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
  • National Vulvodynia Association (NVA) Australia
  • New Zealand Vulvovaginal Society (ANZVS)
  • Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS)
Read more about Jessica and My Vagina's origin story.
Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

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