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Q. Can infected ingrown hair cause swollen inguinal lymph nodes?

Answered by
Dr. Vinay Kumar
and medically reviewed by Dr. Vinodhini. J
This is a premium question & answer published on Jan 24, 2020

Hello doctor,

I have a history of skin picking, mainly ingrown hair. I have curly hair, and shaving often leads to ingrown hairs for me, especially in the pubic region. About a week ago, I was popping my ingrown hairs as usual and sometimes I go a little overboard and scratch and pick too hard. In the same time frame, I have had two sexual partners. Both I have slept with before, but one I had not had relations for a while until last week. The same guy also had sex with my best friend the same night (which I was unaware of). I also resumed having sex with my constant partner two days later.

A few days had passed and the sores from my skin picking have not gone away, but instead, have ulcerated in some areas. There are probably eight or so ulcers. They scab up sometimes but the scabs do not stay attached. I am concerned now because my best friend has also noticed ulcerated areas in her genital realm and is concerned she has genital herpes. I fear that I might also, but at the same time, I am not sure whether or not it would be an STD or just from where I picked at my own skin. At first, she was concerned she had gonorrhea or chlamydia. I do not have as much concern about those. There are hairs centered on all my ulcers. The only other concerning factor is that my inguinal lymph nodes are swollen and sore. I know I need to go get tested and plan on doing so tomorrow. I just wanted an opinion on what else might be going on.

Dr. Vinay Kumar

Cosmetology Dermatology Microbiology Venereology


Welcome to

I have noted your concerns. Your details match closely a condition called folliculitis which is an infection of the hair follicles, with or without a hair in the center being visible, and can lead to ulceration and swollen glands in the draining region which is an inguinal area in your case.

When you visit your doctor, he or she is likely to assess your signs and physical examination, and order some tests to look for the presence of bacteria in the lesions, and some other venereal diseases. Some of the conditions can only be confirmed by blood tests.

It would be advisable to get your friend and contacts too examined and investigated at the same time especially if you are going to have them as partners in the future too whether directly or indirectly. At this stage, the main concern focuses on herpes (blood tests required), chancroid (tests required), and folliculitis.

For now, it would be good to clean up the area with mild antiseptic, apply some antibiotic cream, and use a pain killer for relief from pain.

I hope this helps.

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