​​Getting Rid of Razor Bumps (​Pseudofolliculitis ​Barbae): An Expert Guide

All men hate razor bumps. They leave your skin itchy and red, which is not only painful but also far from attractive.

For many men, no matter how careful you are with a razor, the bumps still pop out and scream for attention when they’re least wanted.

But what are shaving bumps exactly?

And how can you avoid them?

The good news is, there are some tried and tested methods that work. We highly suggest you follow our guide, so you can prevent infection and enjoy healthy skin again!

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What are Shaving Bumps?

Razor Bumps (also known as Shaving Bumps or Pseudofolliculitis Barbae) are found on the skin after shaving. They occur when hair curls or bends back under the skin pores.

Your body reacts to these ingrown hairs and quickly fights back with an immune response. This causes inflammation, which looks like bumps and pimples. They’re often very itchy. 

Shaving bumps can be found anywhere on the body. But, it’s more common in places where hair is shaved frequently because those hairs have sharper ends. If found around the pubic area, the condition is defined as “Pseudofolliculitis Pubis” (PFB).

If left unattended, rashes and infected pimples can form. Scarring can occur if the condition isn’t dealt with properly. If you are suffering from severe Pseudofolliculitis Barbae, then you should contact a dermatologist for expert, one-on-one advice.

There is nothing seriously dangerous that can, but scarring, disfiguration and irritation is something nobody wants.

Infected Shaving Bumps (Folliculitis)

If not attended, skin bumps can become quickly infected. This is called folliculitis. Pus doesn’t always indicate infection, but it is usually a clear sign that you need to treat the skin. 

Minor cases of infected shaving bumps should clear up by not shaving for a while and simply following our advice below, but if you don’t see any improvements then consider medical advice.

If you see intense or large inflammations, like boils, then this is 'Sycosis Barbae,' and you should contact your GP or dermatologist.

Symptoms of Infected Shaving Bumps

  • ​Red bumps that have whiteheads on.
  • Large areas of swollen or red skin, with pus.
  • Blisters that are leaking or appear crusty.

Common Causes of Razor Bumps or PFB

The most common causes of skin irritation from shaving are caused by the shaving products used or from poor shaving habits.

  • ​Naturally ingrown hairs (often in curly hair types)
  • ​Skin pore blockage caused by skin products, such as moisturizers with oils.
  • Dirty skin.
  • ​Old or damaged blades.
  • Bacteria from dirty water, such as those found in a bathtub.
  • Bad shaving habits.
  • Drugs or medication.
  • Damaged skin follicles from tight clothes or bandages.

​What Is the Difference between Razor Burn and Shaving Bumps?

Shaving burn, razor burn, shaving bumps, razor bumps are all common terms used. But they are different things.

Razor burn is where you scrape or irritate the skin by shaving too closely, aggressively or without shaving cream. Bumps are specifically skin inflammation caused by ingrown hairs.

Shaving Bump Facts

  • ​Pseudofolliculitis barbae is most common in black men.
  • ​The condition is a leading concern among black US Army recruits.
  • ​The onset of occurs on average at the age of 22.
  • ​Cheeks and the neck are the most common areas where skin bumps are found, but it can occur anywhere on the body.
  • ​It is estimated that 90% of all men shave once a day, with the rest choosing not to due to personal choice or previously bad experiences.

Why ​Do Black Men Get Shaving Bumps?

As stated above, they are proven to be far more common among black men compared to other ethnicities.

The main reason for this is due to hair type. Curly hair ​​​​is 50x more likely to grow inwards to the skin, compared to straighter hair types. Curly hair types are common with African-American men, and therefore, it is a more regular skin condition.

Curly Hair = Shaving Bumps

Anyone with curly hair will know that ​razor bumps are hell. With straight hair, you may get just a few bumps but with curly hair there is a chance for hundreds. Our best tip for curly haired men is just to let the hair grow out.

Having a beard or stubble will significantly reduce skin irritation. You don’t have to keep the beard, but letting those bumps and irritation reduced when the skin is inflamed is a wise step to take.

Are Electric Razors Suitable for Shaving Bumps?

Generally, yes. The good thing about electric razors is that the blades don’t touch your skin, so the bumps are less likely to get cut or irritated. But they must be used with care; if you push too hard or shave too often you’ll make matters worse. 

We suggest you buy an electric ​shaver that has multiple length settings, so you can avoid cutting hairs too short. A top-tier electric razor is also more likely to mean less shaving motions, which reduces skin irritation. 

​Getting Rid of Shaving Bumps:

First of all, to get rid of shaving bumps, you should let the skin relax for a few days. That means you’ll need to stop shaving and let the hair grow out a bit. If you keep shaving, you’ll irritate the skin more and cause further ingrown hairs. 

Moving forward though there are some essential steps you need to take to reduce the chances of razor bumps appearing again:

Keep Your Skin Clean

Step one is simple and should never be ignored. Keep your skin clean! Every day you should clean your face with warm water, or ideally a cleaning product that suits your skin type.

By washing your face, you’ll remove bacteria which causes spots and infection. Be gentle if you’re using a scrub or hand towel. 

We suggest everyone uses a product with natural ingredients and is low in oil. For dry skin, consider rose or specifically dry skin tailored products. Tea Tree products are perfect for normal skin types and they act as a natural antiseptic. 

It’s also crucial that you disinfect any cuts or ingrown hairs, to prevent the risk of infection. Try to avoid using needles or tweezers (unless sterilized) due to the risk of infection.

Cleaning your face is also vitally important for anyone living in a city with polluted air, or in an unclean air workspace.

Exfoliate ​before Shaving

Ideally, you should exfoliate the day before shaving. By exfoliating, you can remove dead skin, unclog skin pores and help release any ingrown hairs. You can use a natural exfoliating cream, cloth or sponge.

As you exfoliate regularly, you’ll notice your skin condition improve.  

You should always use a product that is ideal for your skin type, and that contains natural ingredients to avoid irritation — taking a warm shower beforehand is a perfect way to prepare the skin for exfoliating.

Moisturize Your Skin

Moisturizing is often overlooked by men. After you’ve shaved, dry your skin by gently patting it with a towel (don’t rub it). Then you should apply a skin-friendly, natural ingredients, alcohol-free moisturizer. 

This will hydrate your skin, preventing it from becoming itchy or red. Hydrated skin is healthy skin after all, and will reduce the chance of ingrown hairs. There are moisturizes for every skin type, and even if it doesn’t seem dry to your eyes, it’s a wise step to take.

Try Natural Remedies

'Natural remedies' does NOT mean home remedies. 

The chance is the tip your great aunt gave you is going to do more damage than good. Coconut oils, vinegar or anything else that seems unusual is a big NO. 

Instead, try to trust natural remedies only.

Brands like ‘The Body Shop’ know what they’re doing. Trusted products like aloe vera and tea tree oils have soothing, moisturizing, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial effects that can help with the irritation and symptoms of pseudofolliculitis barbae. 

Face masks (such as matcha tea) or aloe vera gels can be applied on clean skin for around 30 minutes. Do this one or twice a day, and you’ll soon be glowing.

Consider Using a Single-Blade Razor

Modern cartridge razors and disposable razors are generally great. The problem is, however, multiple blade razors on skin bump prone skin. These razors usually have technology which lifts the skin and hairs slightly so they can get a shorter cut.

This can look great, but if you do more than one pass over some hairs, then the hairs will be cut right down to the base. When it’s that short, the hairs are more likely to grow back into the skin. 

In this case, consider using a single-blade razor or safety razor. These blades won’t lift your skin and will keep things simple for your skin.

Change Your Shaving Habits

The leading cause of shaving bumps comes from careless and unhygienic shaving habits. You’ve probably noticed when you’ve rushed or used an old razor, that you’ve grown spots in the following days.

By correcting some bad habits and techniques, you can make drastic changes to your skin condition.

  • ​Always clean your face beforehand, to remove bacteria.
  • ​Take a hot shower before, or wash your face with warm water to open up your skin’s pores.
  • ​Always use a non-irritant shaving cream that is suited to your skin type.
  • ​Consider using an electric razor if you often cut your skin bumps.
  • ​Avoid applying pressure or shaving too closely.
  • ​ALWAYS clean your electric ​shaver thoroughly after use.
  • ​ALWAYS use a new, fresh, clean razor blade (applicable for disposable razors).
  • ​NEVER use a dirty, or old blade.
  • Avoid pulling your skin.
  • Don’t shave against the grain (it’s not worth the risk if you’re suffering from skin bumps).
  • Use as few shaving motions as possible.
  • Rinse the razor after every motion.
  • Apply a moisturizer or non-alcoholic aftershave.
  • ALWAYS use a clean towel to dry your face.

Try to Leave a Bit of Stubble

It might not be what you want, but try to leave a little bit of stubble when you shave. Freshly shaved skin can leave the pores open for bacteria, which can cause bumps. The hairs are also more likely to safely grow out, rather than inwards when they’re above the surface.

Pay Attention to Your Skin and Facial Hair

This one may sound obvious, but after all your reading on blogs like this, you need to pay attention to how your skin reacts to your shaving habits. For example, if you noticed shaving bumps get worse when you shave often, then shave less.

If you see your skin reacted well to a specific moisturizer, then use it again. Everyone is slightly different, with different hair types and growth speeds. 

Visit a Dermatologist

If you are still suffering from skin bumps after taking the essential steps above, then consider visiting a dermatologist. They’ll be able to prescribe you with medication to reduce inflammation and treat infections.

They’ll also be able to use a sterile needle to remove any particularly painful ingrown hairs.

If treatment isn’t taken early, then severe pseudofolliculitis barbae can lead to scarring, disfiguration and abscesses, which may need surgery. 

What Medical Treatments are Available?

  • ​Antibiotic cream to treat infected conditions (pills for very severe cases only).
  • Steroid creams to help decrease swelling and pain.
  • ​Antifungal creams, shampoos, or pills.

Should You Avoid Shaving ​Against the Grain?

When you shave against the grain, the blades pull the hair away from the skin and leaving it facing an unnatural direction. If the hair is pointing sideways, for example, it is more likely to grow inwards. 

If you do accidentally shave against the grain, then try to reset the hair before you finish by gently shaving back “with” the grain. This is especially useful if you have curly hair.

Do Other Hair Removal Methods Cause Shaving Bumps?

Yes. Waxing and plucking can cause razor bumps if the skin is not cared for, or if the hairs grow inwards.

Can You Remove the Ingrown Hairs Yourself?

If you have a hair that is causing so much irritation that you have to remove it yourself, then there are some sterilizing steps you must take. This way, you’ll avoid infection (which would only make things worse):

  • ​Sterilize the needle or tweezers in boiling water.
  • ​Take a hot shower, or wash your face with warm water to open the pores (this will make it easy to release the hair).
  • Be patient when trying to remove it.
  • ​Use an antiseptic on your skin.
  • Use a clean cloth or cotton pad to remove pus or bleeding.
  • Use an antiseptic on your skin after the hair has been removed.
  • Moisturize your skin afterwards.
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