Razor bumps, or pseudofolliculitis barbae, is a common condition associated with shaving. Approximately 78 percent of men who shave develop skin irritation, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
Causes of Razor Bumps
When facial hair is cut very short, inflammation can develop or hairs can bend back into the skin, resulting in ingrown hairs. Some individuals have hair that is prone to curling backward or sideways, increasing the risk of developing razor bumps.
When the hair penetrates the skin, it triggers a reaction by the body leading to inflammation.
Razor bumps are seen more often in those with coarse or curly hair, and the condition occurs more frequently in African Americans.
Symptoms of Razor Bumps
Razor bumps are tiny red bumps that are often mistaken for pimples or acne, particularly if pustules are present. These bumps can develop on the face, underarms, groin, back or anywhere on the body where hair is removed by shaving, Other symptoms of razor bumps include:
- Dark discoloration
Treatment of Razor Bumps
To prevent infection, it’s important to avoid picking or tweezing the bumps. If your dermatologist confirms that your skin condition is razor bumps, you may be instructed to stop shaving for a brief time to allow the skin to heal.
Many over-the-counter products including those containing benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid or glycolic acid are readily available to clear razor bumps and reduce the severity of future break outs.
Individuals that experience chronic razor bumps may want to consider permanent laser hair removal.
Preventing Razor Bumps
It may not be possible to completely avoid razor bumps with shaving, but using proper shaving techniques may help improve symptoms.
How to Shave:
- Start by wetting the entire beard area with warm water to soften hair
- Use an electric shaver, as opposed to a non-electric multi-blade razor
- Move over each area only once, don’t repeat strokes in the same area
- Shave in the direction of hair growth
- Reduce shaving frequency
- Use shaving cream or gel to soften hair prior to shaving