Razor bumps are ingrown hairs that develop after shaving or using other hair removal techniques. The medical term for pimples is pseudofolliculitis barbae (PFB). Various treatments can alleviate them, from avoiding shaving to taking prescription medications.
Ingrown hairs develop when the hair grows back into the skin instead of up and out. After shaving, waxing or plucking, hair can curl and turn inward. As new skin cells grow over the hair, the hair becomes trapped, causing a bump to form.
Razor bumps can develop anywhere a person shaves or shaves, including the face, head, legs, armpits, and pubic area.
Ways to treat razor bumps include taking preventative measures before, during, and after shaving, avoiding shaving or trying a new method of shaving, and applying salicylic acid, retinoids, or topical antibiotics.
In this article, learn how to treat razor bumps and how to prevent them from forming.
Nothing can make bumps go away instantly, but several strategies can help eliminate or control them. We discuss these strategies in the following sections.
The only sure way to avoid razor bumps is to stop shaving, although this isn't always practical.
According toAmerican Academy of Dermatology (AAD), new bumps may continue to appear after you stop shaving, as new hairs appear. However, the bumps should go away after about 3 months.
Using salicylic acid
Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid thatuncoveredpores, removes dead skin cells and treatsinflammation, allowing the bumps to heal.
Salicylic acid can also help treatacne, according toAADTherefore, it can be a good option for people with acne and pimples.
Several products contain salicylic acid, such as:
- for the
Try Glycolic Acid
Like salicylic acid, glycolic acid helps to peel the skin by removing old cells from the skin's surface. Glycolic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid.
It speeds up the skin's natural peeling process, so a glycolic acid product can help eliminate bumps and give your skin a smoother appearance.
A glycolic acid chemical peel can help control bumps caused by shaving.
Use scrubs carefully
Sometimes a mechanical or physical exfoliant can remove dead skin cells that clog pores and keep hair trapped inside. These types of skin care scrubs may contain sugar, salt, ground fruit seeds or small drops.
Exfoliants can remove debris and ingrown hairs by physically removing dead skin cells.
However, some scrubs can irritate sensitive skin. They may not be suitable for use when a person's skin becomes inflamed or irritated.
Gently brush the skin
A soft brush can help remove dead skin cells and debris that clog pores and pull hairs out of pores to prevent them from getting trapped.
Brushing can alsohelp trainhair grows in only one direction, making ingrown hairs less likely to form.
A person can use a skin care brush, a soft-bristled facial brush, or a soft toothbrush.
Use a warm cloth
Applying a warm, damp washcloth to the skin can help soften the skin and remove ingrown hairs, especially when a person combines it with another option, such as brushing.
Other options include steaming the area in a hot bath or sauna.
Consider medical treatment
A doctor or pharmacist may recommend over-the-counter (OTC) creams, serums, and cleansers that contain steroids or antibiotics to reduce inflammation and control the infection. A mild retinoid can also help prevent breakouts and acne.
If over-the-counter methods do not help, a doctor can prescribe medication. It could be a stronger retinoid such as:
- tretinoin (Retin-A)
- adapaleno (Differin)
- tazaroteno (Tazorac)
Retinoids can take several weeks to have a noticeable effect.
Try another shaving technique
Shaving is the hair removal method most likely to cause razor bumps, so one option is to try a different technique.
Depilatory creams, or depilatories, dissolve the hair and reduce the risk of breakouts. However, they contain chemicals that can irritate your skin. A person should not use these products if the skin is already red, inflamed, or sensitive.
Laser hair removal is a long-term option, but it can be expensive. A person will need several treatment sessions with a dermatologist, but the hair tends to grow back finer and lighter than before.
On dark skin, pimples can lead to skin-colored, hyperpigmented papules.
The images below show how pimples can affect different skin tones and types.
Taking steps before shaving can help reduce your risk of a rash:
- Cleanse the skin with a product that is non-comedogenic or contains salicylic acid or glycolic acid. This can help clean your pores and remove excess surface skin cells. Non-comedogenic products do not tend to clog pores.
- Shave only when your skin is very wet, during or immediately after showering. Alternatively, place a warm, damp towel on the area to5 minutesbefore shaving.
- Use a moisturizing shaving cream or gel and leave it on for1-2 minutesbefore shaving.
- Make sure the shaving cream is wet when you shave or rinse your skin and apply it more generously.
- Avoid skincare products that contain irritating ingredients, which can worsen inflammation.
Here are some tips to avoid razor bumps while shaving:
- Avoid a close shave. Instead, let your hair0.5–3 millimeterslargo.
- Use a single-blade razor or an electric razor with a variable setting to allow for a longer cut.
- Shave slowly, following the direction of hair growth.
- Avoid squeezing the skin while shaving.
- Avoid repeating movements in one area or holding the razor too close to the skin.
It is also important to take care of the skin after shaving:
- Rinse off all traces of shaving cream with lukewarm water to reduce the risk of irritation.
- Place a cold compress on the skin to5 minutes.
- Apply an aftershave formulated to prevent breakouts.
- Clean and dry the shaver and store it in a dry place.
- Change the blade on a single-use razor every 5 to 7 shaves.
If none of these measures help or if the symptoms are severe, the person should contact a doctor.
Razor bumps can develop when a person shaves hair on the face, underarms, or around the pubic area.
Shaving cuts the hair, leaving a sharp, pointed edge. Hair can re-enter the skin by curling up and penetrating the surface of the skin or by retracting under the skin.
Hair re-entering a folliclecan triggeran immune reaction that leads to inflammation.
Razor bumps most often occur in people with naturally curly, curly, or tightly curled hair.
After shaving, especially a close shave, the sharp edges of the curved hairs can puncture and grow back into the skin, causing inflammation.
Statistics suggest that men of African descent are more susceptible to pimples than other groups, with45–85%of affected people. This skin problem is also common among Hispanics.
Also, bumps commonly affect the groin area of women across all populations.
Activities that increase riskinclude:
- skin removal
- shaving below the jaw line or on the face and neck
- waxing your underarms, pubic area, or legs
Individual factors can also increase the likelihood of pimples, such as having:
- skin folds or scar tissue in areas where people shave, as they allow hair of any type to re-enter the skin
- very curly hair
- hair growing in different directions
- thick hair
- a specific genetic trait involving keratin in the hair follicle
A doctor can diagnose pimples by looking at a person's skin and asking about symptoms.
They may do a test called a dermoscopy to see the hairs under the skin. This can help rule out other possible causes of lesions such as acne and tinea barbae.
Razor bumps are different from razor burn.
Razor burn is a type of skin irritation due to the friction of a razor. Tends to cause areas of redness and irritation immediately after shaving.
Razor burn can develop if:
- a person does not properly lubricate the skin before shaving
- use a dull razor
- your skin is sensitive to friction
Razor bumps, on the other hand, develop when hair grows back into the skin. They can appear several days after epilation.
Get some tips here to avoid razor burn.
Razor strokes are known as PFB.
Theycan lead to:
- acne-like rashes on the skin
- papules on the skin that may be red or the same color as a person's skin
- itch and sensitivity
- in some cases, bleeding when shaving
Sometimes an infection can develop, which health experts call folliculitis barbae.
Other complications that may arise include:
- skin color changes after inflammation
- scars, including keloid scars
Symptoms may be more severe in people with eczema or dermatitis.
Here we answer some questions that people often ask about pimples.
How to get rid of pimples quickly?
The most effective way to get rid of razor bumps is to stop shaving. The bumps do not disappear immediately, but as the hair grows, new bumps stop forming.
A doctorcan also recommenda cortisone cream to reduce inflammation.
How to get rid of pimples in a private area?
A person can use techniques similar to pimples on the face.
Here, learn more about pimples in the pubic area.
How long do pimples take to disappear?
As long as a person continues to shave, the bumps are likely to persist.
If they stop shaving, new bumps may continue to appear for a while, but should completely disappear after about3 months.
Razor bumps usually do not cause serious health problems. However, their appearance can be annoying and affect a person's confidence.
If home remedies do not work, it is advisable to seek the advice of a healthcare professional, such as a dermatologist, to discuss other options. This includes a prescription skin cream and laser hair removal.