Ingrown hair -- whether on your face, legs or bikini line -- can be a chronic problem, which means that if you get one ingrown hair, you're likely to continue getting them. Preventing ingrown hair from happening in the first place is the best way to deal with the problem, but when they pop up despite your best efforts, you'll need to treat the discomfort that they cause. Tea tree oil may help with both preventing and treating ingrown hair.
When shaving, smooth, well-hydrated skin is less likely to develop razor bumps -- and, in turn, the ingrown hair these bumps can cause -- than silky-smooth skin. Because tea tree oil can penetrate the surface layer of your skin, adding 10 drops or so of tea tree oil to your regular body moisturizer can make your moisturizer more effective and reduce your risk for ingrown hair, explains Cynthia Olsen, author of "Australian Tea Tree Oil Guide."
Ingrown hairs can be prone to infection, both from bacteria lurking on your razor blade and from bacteria introduced when you scratch those itchy bumps, notes a "Good Housekeeping" article. Tea tree oil has mild antibacterial properties, thanks to its high terpene alcohol content, and is effective for treating several different types of common bacteria and fungi, notes the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University.
In addition to being unsightly, ingrown hair can become painful, inflamed and sometimes pus-filled, according to MayoClinic.com. Tea tree oil's mild anti-inflammatory properties allow it to treat swelling and discomfort without the potential side effects of prescription or over-the-counter corticosteroids. Massaged into the affected area, tea tree oil may soothe inflammation enough for the ingrown hair to release, notes Olsen.
Holly Roberts is an award-winning health and fitness writer whose work has appeared in health, lifestyle and fitness magazines. Roberts has also worked as an editor for health association publications and medical journals. She has been a professional writer for more than 10 years and holds a B.A. in English and an M.A. in literature.