Why Does an Ingrown Hair Scab Turn Black?

by Jay Kang | Updated on February 8th, 2023

Do you have an ingrown hair that scabbed and turned black? You’re not alone. Many people experience this condition, but what exactly causes it?

In this blog post, we’ll discuss the science behind why an ingrown hair scab turns black and how to treat it. Let’s take a look!

ingrown hair scab black

Why Does an Ingrown Hair Scab Turn Black?

An ingrown hair scab can turn black due to the presence of melanin in the skin. Melanin is a pigment produced by cells in the skin, giving the skin its color. When ingrown hair becomes trapped in the skin, it can cause inflammation and lead to infection.

The infection can cause melanin production to increase, resulting in a black scab. While this may look alarming, it is not necessarily a sign of a serious condition and usually resolves on its own with proper treatment.

Proper treatment for ingrown hair includes keeping the area clean and avoiding further irritation or trauma. If home remedies are not effective, seeking medical help may be necessary.

The Role of Melanin

The role of melanin in the darkening of an ingrown hair scab is important. Melanin is a pigment found in the skin, eyes, and hair and is responsible for coloring these areas. When a person has ingrown hair, the hair bulb experiences damage as it is trapped beneath the skin, and this damage leads to an increase in melanin production.

The melanin then accumulates in the wound area, causing the scab to darken as it heals. This process can take several days, depending on the severity of the ingrown hair and the individual’s skin type.

For those with darker skin tones or complexions, melanocytes may produce more melanin than usual, leading to a darker scab than normal. The darkening of an ingrown hair scab is a natural part of healing and should not be cause for alarm.

The Healing Process

The healing process for an ingrown hair scab typically begins when the body’s immune system recognizes and begins to fight the infection. Redness, swelling, and tenderness may be present as the body works to heal the area.

As the body repairs the skin, it produces melanin to protect it from further damage. This causes the scab to turn black. The scab should eventually fall off on its own, but in some cases, it may need to be carefully removed by a medical professional.

It is important to keep the area clean and apply a light moisturizer to prevent further irritation or infection.

Preventing Ingrown Hairs

Preventing ingrown hairs can be a challenge, but it is not impossible. To reduce the risk of developing ingrown hair, use a sharp razor when shaving and shave in the direction of your hair growth. Exfoliating regularly can also help to reduce the chance of hair becoming trapped beneath the skin.

Additionally, avoid tight clothing that can rub against the skin and cause irritation. If you are prone to ingrown hairs, consider using a gentle product or cream designed to prevent them. These steps can help reduce the risk of developing ingrown hair and keep your skin looking and feeling healthy.

How to Treat an Ingrown Hair

Treating ingrown hair requires patience and the right technique. First, you should use warm, wet compresses to soften the area around the ingrown hair before trying to remove it. Once the hair has emerged above the skin, use sterile tweezers to lift it gently to release it from under the skin.

Do not pluck it, as this can cause further irritation. If the infection occurs, your doctor may prescribe topical antibiotics or oral antibiotics. Retinoid creams are also effective at preventing and treating infected ingrown hairs.

Finally, keep the area clean and dry and avoid picking or scratching at the scab, as this can lead to further infection.

When to See a Doctor

When it comes to ingrown hairs, it’s important to know when to see a doctor. If the scab becomes very painful, red, or swollen, it may signify a more serious issue, such as an infection. In these cases, it’s best to seek medical attention right away.

Other signs of infection include pus, a fever, and swollen lymph nodes. If you have tried home remedies without any success, it is time to visit your doctor. They can provide you with the proper treatments and medications to treat the ingrown hair and its associated scab.

Common Myths and Misconceptions

Many people have misconceptions about ingrown hair scabs turning black. For example, some believe that they turn black when they are infected or that they are contagious. An ingrown hair scab’s color results from the skin’s melanin.

Picking or scratching an ingrown hair scab can delay healing and cause further skin damage. Understanding the truth about ingrown hair scabs is important to prevent and treat them effectively.

Myth: Ingrown Hair Scabs Turn Black When They Are Infected

Many people mistakenly believe that ingrown hair scabs turn black when infected. This is false; while an infection can cause a scab to become darker, this is not necessarily the same as turning black. Instead, it is more likely that the scab has turned black due to the melanin in the skin.

Melanin is a natural pigment that gives skin its color and can be found in higher concentrations in certain body areas. When an ingrown hair scab forms, additional melanin is produced, giving the scab a darker hue; this does not indicate that an infection is present but that the body’s natural healing process is occurring.

Myth: Ingrown Hair Scabs Are Contagious

One of the most common myths about ingrown hair scabs is that they are contagious. However, this is not true. Ingrown hair scabs are not contagious, and you cannot catch them from someone else. They are caused by the blockage of a hair follicle, which leads to an infection in the skin.

The infection causes the area to become red and swollen, and a black scab can form as the body tries to heal itself. It is important to note that while ingrown hair scabs are not contagious, an infection can spread if left untreated or scratched or picked at. If an infection does spread, it is important to see a doctor for treatment.

Misconception: Ingrown Hair Scabs Should be Picked or Scratched Off

It is a common misconception that ingrown hair scabs should be picked or scratched off to help them heal. However, this is not the case. Picking or scratching at an ingrown hair scab can cause further skin damage, leading to infection and even darker coloration.

Additionally, it can spread bacteria and increase the risk of scarring. Instead, it is best to leave the scab alone and allow it to heal on its own. Apply a cold compress or an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream to reduce itching and discomfort. If home remedies do not help, you may need to see a doctor for prescription medication or other treatments.


In conclusion, ingrown hair scabs turn black due to the melanin in the skin. This natural process occurs during the healing process and should not be confused with an infection. It is also important to note that ingrown hair scabs should never be picked or scratched off, as this can cause further irritation or infection.

The best way to prevent ingrown hairs is to practice good hygiene and avoid tight clothing that may cause the hairs to become trapped in the skin. If ingrown hair does occur, it can be treated with home remedies or over-the-counter products. If symptoms persist, it is important to contact a doctor for further assistance.

Jay Kang

Just because i'm asian does not mean I don't need shaving. I always wanted to grow a beard when I was young, now I need to shave because hair growth for me is a problem. I'm going through what every man will and has gone through before.