Pseudofolliculitis barbae; if it sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie, think again. Pseudofolliculitis barbae is the medical term for dreaded razor bumps (AKA razor burn). We don’t want anything to stand in the way of our smooth shave. Whether it’s preparing for a day at the beach, a special occasion, or everyday maintenance, we want to have a smooth shave, razor bump-free, please.
At some point or another, we are all left scratching our head as to why these pesky bumps appear and need to know how to get rid of them! So let’s dive in and find out what special corner of the universe they come from, how to treat them so they go away as quickly as possible, and how to prevent them from happening in the first place.
Why Do We Get Razor Bumps?
There is something that feels really unfair about thinking you achieved the perfect shave in the shower only to see red bumps appear not long after. Razor bumps aren’t exclusive to one body part. Any part of your body that you have removed hair from, you can also get razor bumps.
The method of hair removal isn’t a factor either. Bumps can occur from plucking, waxing, and sometimes even from chemical hair removal. Some common areas you can experience razor bumps are your legs, pubic area, underarm, face, and head.
What To Look For
If you are one of the lucky few that has never experienced a razor bump, we have compiled a list of things to look for:
- The number one telltale sign of a razor bump is a raised red bump (looks like an acne pimple).
- Solid round bumps called papules, or lesions similar to a blister, filled with pus are how the bumps may present.
- Itching is another common sign at the site where the hair was removed.
- Pain, redness in the area, rashes, darkening of the skin, are additional symptoms you might experience.
- Infection or bacteria
What Causes Razor Bumps?
Painful, inflamed, red bumps can occur when hair curls back around inside the pore instead of growing up and out of the hair follicle. Hair can also struggle to break through due to dead skin cells at the opening of pores.
How To Get Rid of Razor Bumps Quickly
There may not be a magical way to snap your fingers and instantly rid yourself of razor bumps but there are certainly a few tried and true tips. When you arm yourself with a strategy, you’ll know what to do if it ever happens again!
Icy Cold Compress
The first step of treating razor bumps is to reduce inflammation or swelling. The goal is to soothe the irritated skin and help the pores shrink. This can be accomplished in a few different ways.
- You can place an ice-cold compress on the area with a washcloth for a few minutes.
- Splash the area in cold water.
- You can grab an ice pack from the freezer, wrap it in a washcloth, and place it on the area.
- Those cute jelly-filled eye masks that go in your freezer or fridge, or even a bag of frozen vegetables will double as an ice pack that can also be used in a pinch.
Hydrate the Irritated Skin
Your razor bump is actually a tiny injury. As a rule of thumb, it is always best to hydrate your skin after shaving. This is especially true if you have razor bumps. Placing moisture back into the area allows the skin to heal.
Apply an Inflammation Reducing Cream
Cortisone or hydrocortisone cream can help reduce the redness and inflammation in the area. You can find these sold over the counter at almost any retail store. Make sure you start with skin that is clean and dry. You would then apply your moisturizer and the cream would be layered directly on top. Always be sure to wash your hands after application.
Aloe vera plants work wonders. In order to use aloe vera gel, you would simply open an aloe vera plant leaf and obtain some of the gel from inside.
You will want to allow it to dry and leave it on for a period of at least 30 minutes. Although aloe vera after sun care is sold in stores, using the natural version ensures you aren’t using a product with any other additives that may cause further irritation.
The gel inside an aloe vera plant is known to have anti-inflammatory properties, be soothing, is antibacterial, and moisturizing. All of these benefits assist with reducing redness, inflammation, and itchiness brought on by razor bumps.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil has antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. It may assist in loosening any ingrown hairs, soothe the inflammation and redness caused by razor bumps and open up pores.
To use this oil you would use a bowl of warm water to mix 10-15 drops of tea tree into. Apply a cloth soaked in the mixture to the area affected for 30 minutes a couple of times a day, as you need it.
How To Get Rid of Sensitive Area Razor Bumps
The bikini area is one of the most sensitive areas we shave. The truth is, it is also the area razor bumps can be most common and the least comfortable. No one wants to have unsightly razor bumps in this particular area, especially if the said area will be exposed to the light of day, say perhaps on your tropical vacation.
In the bikini area, hair tends to be more thick and coarse. In our minds, we are more likely to get a more smooth shave if we give this area a few more passes than others. Raise your hand if you are also guilty of doing this in the armpit area. What this actually does is make it more likely to also irritate and break down the skin.
It’s important to be mindful of how sensitive the skin in our bikini area is. It needs extra tender love and care. Here are some tips for this shaving and caring for this area:
You will want to shave after you gently exfoliate and clean the area.
- Always use a blade that is clean and sharp. Ideally, you don’t want to use a razor past the seven-day mark. Make sure you rinse it and allow it to dry properly.
- Use cold or lukewarm water while shaving and a natural aftershave.
- This can be accomplished with aloe vera.
Razor Bump Prevention 101
We feel like we are on a roll here but we can’t stop at how you get razor bumps and treatment options. We have to discuss prevention. As with any routine that involves your skin, there are crucial steps that come into play to help avoid razor bumps from happening in the first place.
Here is our best practice guide.
Clean and Exfoliate
A multifunction, multi-use sponge (like the three-in-one sponges from Spongellé) is a great way to prep your skin prior to shaving. You want to be sure to exfoliate the dead skin prior to shaving to make sure you don’t have any hiccups that can cause tiny cuts or irritation. A clean and smooth road is best on your journey to smooth skin.
You can also use a gentle scrub, a dry brush, or cleansers and soap that contain an exfoliating ingredient such as glycolic acid.
Blade and Shaving Gel Matter
As we mentioned, we can’t overstate the importance of the freshness of your blade. Each time you shave with the same blade, it gets duller.
Do not use a dull razor!, and do not dry shave! You don’t want anything to tug or pull at your hair. The sharper the blade, the easier it can glide across your skin and remove your hair. Use a sharp razor every time, especially if you have sensitive skin.
Shaving gel creates a smooth surface for the blade to slide across. The more smooth the surface, the easier it can be to remove the hair in one swipe versus multiple swipes in the area putting you at risk for ingrown hairs and razor bumps or burns.
In order for your skin to have a healthy barrier, it requires moisture. After showering, and definitely after shaving, you need to help your skin out by sealing in moisture. A great moisturizer is a game-changer in keeping your skin healthy and supple.
For external hydration, make sure you use shaving cream or lotion to provide lubrication. Try and use alcohol-free products if possible because they can leave your skin dry.
Remember To Treat Sensitive Areas Carefully
Your bikini line area is one place you will never regret shaving slow and steadily. Make sure to be extra gentle and shave in the direction of hair growth. Try to avoid the temptation to make extra passes in the affected area, especially if you already have shaving irritation there.
Smooth Skin, Every Time
We all want the buttery soft skin that comes along with a super close shave. There are so many preventative techniques and tips to help avoid razor bumps. Adapting our routine to incorporate these tips is key to keeping razor bumps at bay. In the instance that you should still experience razor bumps, we hope our advice can help soothe and get rid of them as quickly as they came!
6 ways to treat razor bumps fast|MedicalNewstoday
Pseudofolliculitis Barbae: Treatment, Causes, Prevention, and More|Healthline
Razor bump remedies for men of color | AAD