Dog Ingrown Hair: Causes, Pictures, Cyst & Treatment

Dog ingrown hair bump

Shaving your dog can mean something you may not have considered: the risk of ingrown hair, follicle cysts, tumors and bumps.

Most of us know about these when we shave, but the complication can also arise in canines. The paws, face, tail and even lips can get ingrown hairs. If not attended to, that part of the skin will become itchy and soon turn into an infection.

Can dogs get ingrown hairs?

YES! Mammals have hair. It grows from follicles in the skin. Dogs in particular are prone to hair follicle problems and infections because they have a relatively thick hair coat covering most of the body.

In double coated breeds, the risk of developing hair follicle cysts, tumors and ingrown hair is higher. Examples of such breeds are Norwegian elk hound and Newfoundland breeds. Poodles are also reported to experience this problem due to their typically curly hair.

Although not a very common problem, canine ingrown hair can occur especially after grooming.

Infected whiskers, in most cases, start as ingrown hair. What most pet owners don’t know is that poor grooming and lack of regular veterinary care can put your furry companion at a risk of developing dog ingrown hair.

  • After pet grooming, some hair follicles may fail to grow straight upwards and out of the skin.
  • The follicles curl and grow back down into the dog’s skin.
  • A variation of ingrown hair is when the hair strands fail to break through the skin and start growing sideways within the skin.

The result is an itchy bump that can easily become infected and ooze pus. Further complications can arise from this.


Overbathing and overgrooming are the biggest culprits. Lack of it alike can lead to those pesky red bumps and itchy skin.

If skin pores get clogged due to oil, dead skin, some grooming products, debris, etc., the hair that is inside the pore may not grow out of its follicle. Instead, it will start to curl downward and cause those ingrown hair pustules.

Symptoms of canine ingrown hair

As they develop, the embedded hair follicles can start to appear as pus-filled pockets or bumps, but only if they are infected. Look out for the following symptoms to be able to identify the problem.

  • Inflamed bumps on the skin.
  • Dogs may start to itch and scratch as the follicle irritates the skin.
  • Infected hair follicles sometimes form pus cysts.

Your dog is likely to start biting and chewing the area to try and calm the irritation. When this happens, there’s a likelihood of introducing and infection.

The most commonly affected areas are the paws, face, whiskers and areas between the toes.

Other possible causes of bumps and such symptoms include:


Folliculitis is one of the most common types of canine skin infections. It refers to the inflammation of hair follicles. At first, the symptoms may present as small bumps around hair follicles. They then develop to form pus-filled pockets around the follicles and can even lead to hair loss in small areas.

Dog acne/pimples

Acne is also another fairly common problem that can be confused with ingrown hair in dogs. This inflammatory skin condition appears on the muzzle, lips and chins in puppies.

Acne bumps in dogs can look similar to ingrown hair bumps. Your veterinarian will help you distinguish if your pet is suffering from a grooming problem or acne.


Demodex mites can also produce similar symptoms (bumps) like those of ingrown hair in canine pets. When the mites burrow themselves deep into the skin, they can cause inflamed bumps to erupt.


Some allergies can also cause an itchy skin, bumps and rashes similar to those caused by embedded hairs. An example is the urticaria skin disease in dogs.

Swollen pustules or red pimple-like bumps don’t always mean something to do with the hair follicles. Instead of diagnosing your furry friend yourself, we would advise you see a veterinarian help in examining and treating the infection.

Ingrown hair cyst and tumors

Follicular cysts in dogs are fluid-filled sacs or pockets around hair strands. They develop due to irritation and infection.

When infected, the cysts fill with pus, a yellow-green fluid that may start to drain when your pet pops the pocket.

If you suspect your dog has a cyst from ingrown hair, take him to the veterinary clinic for proper treatment to prevent spreading the infection.

Poodles and ingrown hair

Poodles are the most affected when it comes to folliculitis and embedded hair due to their naturally curly hair. According to AllPoodlesInfo:

If your pet is a poodle or a breed with a similar coat, try to keep the coat a bit short. While doing so, avoid shaving it to the skin. This will prevent the problem.

Dog ingrown hair bumpCyst from dog's ingrown hair

Treatment and prevention

One of the best ways to treat ingrown hairs is to remove them physically. Your veterinarian can use a scalpel or tweezers to dislodge the embedded follicles.

When an infection is present, he may treat it with an antibiotic medication and give a steroid to reduce inflammation.

There’s, however, a lot you can do to prevent the problem from recurring. Here are a few tips to help you with that.

  • Brush your dog’s hair regularly to remove dead skin flakes to prevent clogging of follicles.
  • Always buy high quality grooming products in shampoos, conditioners and coat protection products. These will help keep the skin healthy and prevent infestation, infections and ingrown dog hairs.
  • Avoid overbathing your pet. Doing so can cause a dry and irritated skin.
  • Avoid popping bumps on the dog’s skin, belly, face, paw, chin etc. These can easily become infected ingrown follicles and complicate the problem further.