By Adam Hurly.
A well groomed guy knows how to work with what he’s got, but just as importantly, he knows how to remove the stuff he doesn’t want.
It’s not just bad breath and back hair we’re talking about. There are less frequent pests—but far grosser ones—like ingrown hairs, bunions, or skin tags. They spring up from pressure, infection, poor hygiene or, just because they damn well please. Luckily, most of these uninvited guests can be easily taken care of at home. But not without a little ingenuity. Here, then, are GQ's DIY solutions to five of the most common gross things.
1. Ingrown Hairs
We’re cringing, just thinking about these painful little fuckers. You can do your best to prevent them while shaving. But no matter what you do, every so often a tiny hair will lodge itself under your skin. It starts by growing sideways or curling upside down, then growing inward. The result is a throbbing red bump that begs for mercy, and is likely a sign of infection.
At first indication of an ingrown hair, rub the skin with a salicylic + lactic acid exfoliator—or make a gentle scrub paste at home with sugar and olive oil. Don’t try to pop the pustule; instead, the exfoliation should help bring the hair to surface by removing dead surface cells that could be trapping the hair. After, apply a hot compression to the area for ten minutes, to soften the hair and further coerce it out. Do this once or twice daily and you should soon see the hair poking through the skin. Disinfect some tweezers with a lighter or rubbing alcohol, and carefully pluck the hair. Then, disinfect the area with a dab of rubbing alcohol, to dry out the pore.
If the bump grows too big, the hair may be too furled inward. See a dermatologist to have it professionally removed and sterilized.
2. Ingrown Nails
You should only address the ingrown nail yourself if the pain and swelling is mild. Anything severe requires immediate professional attention.
The goal here is to coach the nail outwards, not to remove anything. Start by soaking the foot in warm water two or three times daily, to soften the skin. You can add a quarter cup of apple cider vinegar to the hot water basin, which will help prevent bacterial infection.
If you’re able to gently get underneath the edge of the nail, do so with a small stretch of dental floss, or by wedging gently rolled-up cotton underneath the edge of the toe. This will encourage the nail to grow out, and not further into the skin. Wear comfortable shoes and repeat this process daily, until the nail has grown to its standard length. Trim is as you otherwise would, and ideally it’ll now grow as it otherwise should.
In the future, make sure you have smaller rounded ones clippers for your fingers and larger straight-blade ones for your toes. If you use the small guy on your toes—which are meant to be cut in one quick, clean motion—you risk trimming the nail in a way that it starts to grow inward.
3. Skin Tags
You can’t do much to prevent skin tags. They’re increasingly common as you age, popping up in places like the armpits, groin, face, on your butt, and in your belly button. Essentially, wherever they like. They’re little pockets of skin, and if left untreated, can grow or fill with blood. Fun.
You’ll want to address them quickly, but don’t rush it—they will bleed like a sonuvabitch if you snip them off. Instead, you want to gradually dissolve the tags using anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory tea tree oil. Just dab the tag two or three times daily with a few drops of oil, and it should slowly dry the excess skin within three weeks, causing it to fall off while preventing infection at the same time. Be sure to let the oil absorb upon each application, instead of letting your clothes soak it away.
4. Plantar Warts
Don’t worry too much if you get these benign warts on your hands or feet; while they’re an indication of a mild viral infection, they’re easy to remove. Plantar warts often grow in small bunches, and are typically smaller than a pea. While they often go away on their own, they also take a month or more to safely remove. So, be patient.
Call it an old wives’ tale, but one method is to cover the wart in duct tape for a week, then soak it in hot water, and grate at it with a nail-filing emory board. However, you’ll have to repeat this process every week until the wart is filed down, which can be tedious.
It’s just as simple to buy an at-home freezing solution. It works by freezing the wart and creating a blister between the wart and the skin, which then pushes the wart further away, eventually causing it to peel or fall off. This too requires multiple applications, so be ready.
If, after a month, you don’t see any progress, meet with a doctor to ask about having the warts removed professionally, or to consult on the likelihood of them going away on their own.
5. Corns and Bunions
Both of these pests form on the bottom of your feet; bunions target the joint at which the big toe meets the foot. Corns grow callus-like around the foot, at any bony part where excess pressure might have been applied. They’re often resultant of tight shoes or arduous activity.
There are two simple at-home remedies to try. The first is to file the dead skin away with a pumice stone. Be gentle as you near the surface of the skin, as you don’t want to aggravate any of the healthy skin that borders the callus. Secondly, you can get salicylic acid topical treatment which also dissolves the dead skin cells and will gradually restore your foot to its smooth state, usually in 2-3 weeks. (This is the same ingredient in many topical exfoliant creams for the face and body.)
Wear comfortable shoes and avoid rigorous exercise throughout the process, to minimize pressure on the foot. Any added strain can further fortify the bunion or corn.
This story originally appeared on GQ.
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