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Herpes vs. Ingrown Hair: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 17, 2023
Herpes is a viral infection causing blisters; ingrown hair is a hair growing back into the skin.

Key Differences

Herpes is a contagious viral infection characterized by the appearance of small, painful blisters on the skin or mucous membranes, often around the mouth or genitals. On the other hand, an ingrown hair occurs when a shaved or tweezed hair grows back into the skin, causing inflammation and irritation.
Herpes outbreaks often begin with an itching or tingling sensation, followed by redness and the formation of blisters that can ooze and crust. Conversely, ingrown hairs create a raised, red bump that looks like a little pimple, which can become painful or itchy and might fill with pus.
The cause of herpes is a virus, specifically the herpes simplex virus types 1 or 2. Ingrown hairs are primarily caused by improper shaving techniques or the natural curling back of hair into the skin, particularly in individuals with curly hair.
Herpes is managed with antiviral medications and lifestyle changes but has no cure, as the virus remains in the body. In contrast, ingrown hairs usually resolve on their own and can be prevented by using proper hair removal techniques.
Herpes can potentially lead to complications if not managed, including secondary bacterial infections or, in severe cases, systemic involvement. Ingrown hairs, while generally less serious, can sometimes cause bacterial infections or permanent scarring if left untreated or if improperly manipulated.

Comparison Chart


Viral infection causing sores.
Hair that grows back into the skin.


Blisters, pain, itching.
Red bumps, irritation, possible pus.


Herpes simplex virus 1 or 2.
Improper hair removal, curly hair.


Antiviral medications, no cure.
Self-resolves, proper shaving techniques.


Secondary infections, systemic involvement.
Bacterial infections, scarring.

Herpes and Ingrown Hair Definitions


Herpes refers to a condition caused by the herpes simplex virus.
Herpes outbreaks can be managed with medication.

Ingrown Hair

Ingrown hair is a condition where hair grows back into the skin.
After shaving, he often gets an ingrown hair.


Herpes is a contagious condition affecting various body parts.
He didn't realize herpes could affect the mouth.

Ingrown Hair

Ingrown hair causes skin irritation and the formation of bumps.
She thought it was a pimple but it was an ingrown hair.


Herpes is a chronic condition with intermittent flare-ups.
Despite having herpes, she lives a full life.

Ingrown Hair

Ingrown hair can result from improper shaving techniques.
Using a dull razor can increase your risk of ingrown hair.


Herpes is a viral disease causing blisters and sores.
She got diagnosed with herpes after noticing blisters.

Ingrown Hair

Ingrown hair can lead to infection if not treated properly.
She had to get medication for an infected ingrown hair.


Herpes can refer to infections by any virus in the Herpesviridae family.
Chickenpox is actually a type of herpes virus.

Ingrown Hair

Ingrown hair is common in individuals with curly hair.
Curly hair types are more prone to ingrown hair.


Any of several viral infections marked by the eruption of small vesicles on the skin or mucous membranes, especially herpes simplex.


(medicine) A viral infection, caused by Human alphaherpesvirus 1 and Human alphaherpesvirus 2, marked by painful, watery blisters in the skin or mucous membranes or on the genitals.


Can herpes be cured?

No, but its symptoms can be managed.

Can herpes spread to other body parts?

Yes, through self-inoculation or autoinoculation.

Is herpes contagious?

Yes, it’s transmitted through direct contact.

What is an ingrown hair?

A hair that curls back and grows into the skin.

What is herpes?

An infection caused by the herpes simplex virus.

What triggers herpes outbreaks?

Factors like stress, fatigue, or illness.

Can you prevent ingrown hairs?

Yes, by using proper shaving techniques and exfoliation.

Should you pluck ingrown hairs?

No, it's better to gently exfoliate or use a warm compress.

Are certain people more prone to ingrown hairs?

Yes, particularly those with curly hair.

How common is herpes?

Very common, affecting millions worldwide.

What causes ingrown hairs?

Often shaving, waxing, or tight clothing.

How are ingrown hairs treated?

Usually self-resolve, or by freeing the hair.

Can ingrown hairs get infected?

Yes, if bacteria enter the inflamed area.

Are there tests for herpes?

Yes, blood tests and swab tests from sores.

What's the difference between a pimple and an ingrown hair?

Ingrown hair is a hair problem, pimples are typically due to clogged pores.

Do ingrown hairs go away on their own?

Most do, but some may require treatment.

Do ingrown hairs happen more in certain areas?

Yes, commonly where hair is coarser, like the beard area or bikini line.

Does herpes affect pregnancy?

It can pose risks to the baby if transmitted.

Is there a vaccine for herpes?

No, but research is ongoing.

Can herpes affect general health?

It’s usually a localized infection but can have psychological effects.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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