Red, swollen razor bumps or shaving bumps are unsightly as well as uncomfortable. In medical terms, the condition is known as Pseudofolliculitis Barbae.
As the name suggests, this problem is a result of improper shaving. Other hair removing methods like waxing and tweezing may also cause the same. The condition is characterized by inflammation due to hair growing inward.
This usually happens when the tip of hair, after shaving, re-enters the skin and starts growing inward, away from the hair pore. In addition, it can be caused by the breaking of hair shaft at different lengths and penetrating the hair follicle from within the skin.
Furthermore, genetic factors can cause curly hair or curved hair follicles that increase the chances of developing razor bumps after shaving. The bumps may contain pus as well, especially if there are bacteria on the skin.
Plus, it is likely to cause darkening of the affected area, along with scarring. Though rare, at times, the bumps may eventually lead to keloid formation.
Razor bumps mostly appear on the beard and tend to flare up with repeated shaving. Moreover, they may occur on the legs, scalp, and bikini area. It has been observed that these bumps are more common on dark skin types.
How to Get Rid of Razor Bumps
Given below are a few suggestions to help treat razor bumps. Instead of shaving the affected area to remove the hair, it is better to let it grow out and see if it breaks out of the bump within a few days.
In fact, it has been observed that razor bumps tend to go away on their own when you stop shaving. This problem can usually be treated within three to four weeks.
- Warm Compress & Sugar Scrub
- Aloe Vera
- Tea Tree Oil
- Epsom Salt Soak
- Salicylic Acid
- Cosmetic Treatment
- Pluck the stubborn hair within a razor bump using a pair of tweezers ( it should meet at the top or end). Before using the pair of tweezers, make sure you wash it with an antibacterial soap or simply dip it in rubbing alcohol to sterilize it. Besides, you can apply rubbing alcohol on the affected area and gently tease the hair out with the help of a sterile needle.
- If there is pain on the affected area and the method mentioned above seems aggressive, you can try to get rid of your razor bump by cleaning and soothing the bump with a washcloth soaked in warm water, followed by exfoliation with a sugar scrub. The warm washcloth opens the pores, thereby making it easy to remove the ingrown hair. To prepare the sugar scrub, you can use a mixture of half a cup of extra-virgin olive oil and a cup of granulated sugar. To fight infection, you may add about 20 drops of tea tree oil as well. Massage this homemade scrub on moist skin in gentle, circular motion to exfoliate the skin.
- Applying pure aloe vera gel on razor bumps helps soothe the irritation and facilitates the process of healing. Aloe vera provides relief due to its anti-inflammatory and analgesic qualities.
- In case the skin is irritated and inflamed, you may soak a cotton ball in a little tea tree essential oil or witch hazel and dab it on the affected area. These solutions have antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, astringent, and antibacterial properties. As witch hazel has a cooling property, it shall relieve burning sensation, too.
- Soak the affected area in warm water mixed with Epsom salt for about 20 minutes. You may add a few drops of an essential oil, too. It works as an exfoliant and heals the swelling.
- Use of topical retinoid such as Retin-A cream, on a regular basis, is considered beneficial in getting rid of razor bumps as it helps in gentle resurfacing of the skin. Besides, you can use a hydrocortisone cream to heal the redness and skin irritation. You may use it twice daily, but only for a few days. Prolonged use of hydrocortisone is not recommended.
- It is suggested to apply a lotion or acne cream containing salicylic acid as it helps remove dead skin, cleans the pores, and reduces the redness. Follow this treatment daily for about a week. If the skin starts peeling, then use it every alternate day. Another way to use salicylic acid is to crush an uncoated aspirin pill, mix a little water in this powder and apply the resultant paste on your razor bumps. Aspirin is derived from salicylic acid. Glycolic acid creams are also considered effective for the treatment of razor bumps.
- Cosmetic treatments such as chemical peels, microdermabrasion, laser skin surfacing, etc. can be opted for, to remove razor bumps from skin.
Tips to Prevent Razor Bumps
- Follow proper shaving techniques and shave in the direction of hair growth while making smooth, angled cut ends to reduce irritation. Make sure you use warm water and a pre-shave cream/gel before shaving to help soften the hair. Plus, avoid a close shave and do not apply pressure on the razor. Needless to say, avoid using blunt razors and double or triple blade razors.
- When shaving the beard, prefer to use electric clippers rather than usual razors in order to prevent razor bumps and burns.
- For removing unwanted hair, women can consider using hair removal creams instead of razors.
- After shaving, dislodge the stubborn tips of hair by gently rubbing a wet sponge or washcloth in circular motion.
Dos and Don’ts
|Do exfoliate the desired area before shaving to remove dead skin cells and bacteria.
||Do not shave against the grain of your hair.
|Do apply a cold compress after you shave. Preferably, use an after-shave, too.
||Do not pull the skin taut while shaving.
|Do maintain adequate hair and skin hygiene.
||Do not shave over the razor bumps as it may give rise to infection.
|Do keep freshly shaved areas free from friction.
||Do not pick and scratch the affected area.