Prevent Razor Bumps

Author: Dr. Larita
June 13, 2013

Razor bumps are common for 30 to 40 % of men with coarse or curly hair and especially common for black men. Shaving hair with a blade, can cut the hair at an angle making it sharp. Curly hair then sometimes curls back toward the skin and can puncture the skin and become ingrown. This leads to red bumps and skin irritation, which can be very painful for some men. The technical name for razor bumps is pseudofolliculitis barbae (often abbreviated PFB).

Prevention

The following steps may reduce your chance of suffering from razor bumps:

  • Make sure to get your hair very wet before shaving, ideally after taking a bath or shower. If you don’t shower first, wet your hair for at least two minutes with warm, soapy water. Wet hair cuts better and easier than dry hair, and is more likely to cut evenly (and not at an angle).
  • Use a good shaving cream to reduce friction and irritation. I suggest a  gel or moisturizing shaving cream for sensitive skin. Really work the shaving cream into your scalp or face  for at least two minutes, and save areas that tend to develop bumps for last when you’re shaving, so that the shaving cream has longer to soften the hair.
  • Shave with the grain, not against it.
  • Don’t go over the same area more than twice.
  • Don’t stretch out your skin while shaving; let is stay neutral and relaxed. Stretching your skin while you shave increases the chance that the hair will ‘snap back’ to below skin level.
  • Replace your blade regularly. Shaving with a dull blade increases the chances of hair tearing unevenly.
  • There are some good inexpensive disposable razors on the market that can be purchased at most discount grocery stores or drug stores. I recommend the Bic Advance III, it has 3 blades and a lotion or gel moisturizing strip. You should not use it any more than 3 times.
  • After shaving apply an astringent or toner like alcohol or witch hazel. To further improve your skin apply an essential oil mixture, like the one listed below:

Lavender – 10 drops
Chamomile – 10 drops
Calendula – 5 drops
Diluted in 4 teaspoons evening primrose oil.

Some people who suffer from razor bumps might prefer using a depilatory (like Nair or Neet) instead of a razor. Depilatories work by dissolving the hair so it can be washed off. The chemicals used in depilatories are strong, and may cause irritation, therefore we strongly discourage their use.

Treatment

If you’re already suffering from razor bumps, keep the following points in mind:

  • Before anything else, let your hair grow out for a while and give your skin a rest before shaving again (a minimum of three days).
  • Bumps can get infected fairly easily, so tend to them immediately. Using antibacterial essential oils such as lavender or tea tree oil will probably help, especially if there’s a cut.
  • Don’t pick at or squeeze bumps. That will tend to make things worse.


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