Hi, this is Dr. Charles Crutchfield clinical professor of dermatology and medical director at Crutchfield Dermatology.
Today we are going to talk about a vexing problem razor bumps.
This condition is also known medically as Pseudo Folliculitis Barbae but we’ll just call it razor bumps.
What Causes Razor Bumps?
Hair is made of the protein called Keratin and Keratin can be very irritating to the skin. Especially if it grows into the skin and that’s what’s happening with razor bumps.
What actually happens is the razor cuts the hair so short that the curly hair doesn’t even exit the skin and grows sometimes right into the side of the skin. And this can happen with anybody. People with curly hair or people who have hair that grows at an oblique angle to the surface of the skin.
Sometimes the curly hair is cut extremely close it never exits the skin but instead pokes inside the skin before it can grow out or it can grow out and poke back into the skin. The result is
the same. The Keratin invades the skin producing an inflammatory reaction which causes itching burning bumps and pustules.
How To Get Rid Of Razor Bumps
When Pseudo Folliculitis Barbae is mild to moderate these tips can
- Use a very mild oatmeal based shaving cream to reduce friction and irritation.
- Also use a non-electric razor with a safety guard so the hairs are not cut too short or use an electric clipper at the low setting so the hairs are sitting just above the surface of the skin.
- Also shave after taking a shower. I recommend this because the tips of the hair when it’s cut is nice and soft and it’s less likely to poke back into the skin.
- Also before you go to bed use a soft bristle toothbrush and make circular motions on the beard area so the hair doesn’t grow in over night as you sleep. These tips can be very helpful to prevent Pseudo Folliculitis Barbae.
- Finally topical over the counter steroid creams can be used after shaving to reduce irritation.
In the majority of cases these tips can provide satisfactory relief from razor bumps; however in certain cases where the relief is not achieved through these treatments it’s best to see your dermatologist for stronger medicine medications or to discuss laser hair removal treatments.
Razor bumps have been a vexing problem throughout history and can even interfere with occupations that require a clean shaven face such as military officers peace officers and fire fighters.
Thankfully this condition can be successfully treated.