Pimples and ingrown hairs are both common skin conditions. They both can result in a large white head, but there are some differences.

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Ingrown hairs can develop on any area of the body, but they are most common on areas that are frequently shaved. Ingrown hairs are also more painful than pimples. If the lesion occurs in an area where you shave and is painful, place a warm towel over the area to soften the lesion.

Using a sharp razor, carefully shave the area against the direction of hair growth to release the hair. If the lesion remains, it is likely a pimple.

If the lesion is painful and remains after shaving, treat the area with tea tree oil several times a day. If the lesion is less painful at the end of the first day of treatment, it is likely a pimple.


  • If you determine that the lesion is an ingrown hair, regular exfoliation can help prevent a recurrence.

  • Cystic acne can be treated using tea tree oil. Stubborn acne may require a doctor’s care.