Razor Bumps

Foreign Body Reaction

Razor or shaving bumps is a kind of rash that affects men with kinky beard hair. The long name of this condition is pseudofolliculitis barbae. When the hair has tight curls, the incidence of ingrown hairs is increased, since the tip of the hair curls back into the skin or hair follicle. The body then sets up a foreign body reaction to this ingrown hair much as it does when it senses a splinter of wood under the skin. Methods used to achieve a close shave, such as pulling the skin tight during a shave, shaving against the direction of the hair growth, or using multi-blade razors may worsen the condition.

While anyone with tightly curled beard hair may be affected, razor bumps tend to affect black males who shave. 80% of black men contend with this condition. Women who shave, pluck, or undergo electrolysis can also end up with razor bumps.

Razor bumps appear as skin-colored or reddened bumps or pimples in the shaved area. Often, a hair is visible in the center of each bump.

Grow it Out

The treatment for this condition consists of allowing the beard to grow out. If the hairs are allowed to grow long enough, they cannot grow back into the skin. Even if you prefer to be clean-shaven, let your beard grow out for 30 days to get rid of the ingrown hairs. At night, use an exfoliating lotion containing glycolic acid to the affected areas.

Here are some tips for preventing razor bumps:

*Clean your face twice a day with an abrasive facial sponge.

*When shaving, use moisturizing shaving foam.

*The use of an electric shaver is preferable, since it doesn't give as close a shave as razor blades.

*If you have to use razor blades, prep your face before shaving by washing with a mild cleanser, then rinse.

*Massage the area to be shaved using a circular motion with a soft washcloth that has been rinsed with warm water and wrung out. This frees up and softens hair tips making them easier to cut.

*Use a shaving gel that is designed to be gentle to the skin and shave in the direction of the hair growth.

*After shaving, rinse with warm water and use a mild moisturizing aftershave lotion.

*Single blades are preferable to multi-blades since the latter cuts the hairs short, leading to ingrown hairs.

*Specially designed PFB razors are worth trying if you have a tendency to develop razor bumps.

*Try shaving every other day.

*Don't pull the skin taut while shaving.

*Chemical shaving with products containing calcium thioglycolate or barium sulfide can dissolve the hair, but may be irritating.

*Laser hair removal may be the most effective preventative measure of all.