What are razor bumps and ingrown hairs?
The medical term for razor bumps and ingrown hairs is pseudofolliculitis barbae. This is actually a medical condition that affects people with curly hair and develop anywhere the hair is shaved, tweezed, or waxed. Picking or attempting to shave away the hairs is painful, not to mention causes inflammation and the resemblance of acne. When the bumps heal, they leave dark marks on the skin that can appear to be 2 or three shades darker than the natural skin tone, creating hyper-pigmentation (discoloration).
How are they formed?
As curly hair grows out of the skin it curves sharply, bending and digging back into the skin. Cutting the hair makes those hair edges even sharper allowing it to pierce the skin as it grows and the skin reacts as though it has been penetrated by a "foreign body" with redness, itchiness and inflammation causing a razor bump or ingrown hair.
Are there any ways to prevent them?
Trying to pick out the hair is not recommended because this may cause infections and scars. The best thing to do is change the way you shave. Always shave immediately after taking a shower or bath because your pores are open, your skin is soft and moisturized. Be careful not to stretch or tug on the skin, be gentle. Be picky about the shaving cream you use; scented products may irritate the skin. Find a razor that gives you the best results. The object should be to get a close enough shave to prevent the hairs from curling back into the skin. Make sure the blade is not dull and replace the blade or disposable razor after a few uses. Be sure to shave in the direction that the hair is growing and shave the area only once. If you are prone to razor bumps and ingrown hairs, go beyond just shaving and washing your face, create a skincare regiment that will work for you. This may mean having a morning or evening routine as well as taking prescription medicines or going to get treatments. Wear an oil-free sunscreen with UVA and UVB protection with an SPF of 20 + (preferably with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide). Before applying any new product, always test on a patch of skin on the inside fold of your arm first, just in case you skin may have an allergic reaction.
- Aveeno Shave Gel - a fragrance-free smooth gel that contains oatmeal and allantoin (agent that moisturizes and soothes damaged skin)
- Neutrogena Razor Defense - thick gel that softens the skin and hair without being too greasy or irritating
Glytone Serious Shave Cream - contains glycolic acid, a chemical that speeds up the skin's process of shedding dead skin cells and leaves the skin feeling smooth
Neutrogena Moisture - good moisturizer
Bobbi Brown Soothing Face Tonic - contains green tea and glycerine which attracts moisture and soothes the skin
Eucerin Renewal Alpha Hydroxy Lotion- For Face - works as a good moisturizer after you shave when your skin is completely dry (applying while wet may irritate skin)
Tend Skin - popular brand that has been proven effective for many men. It contains beta hydroxy or salicylic acid.
Blinc for Ingrown Hairs - a form of microdermabrasion recommended by Dulce Candy
What kind of treatment is available?
Lightsheer Diode Lazer - highly recommended because this treatment allows the hair to be removed almost painlessly and improves the condition of the skin. (can be expensive)
Chemical Peels - removes the top layers of dead skin cells, eliminating roughness that razor bumps form, reduces inflammation, evens skin tone, and boosts natural collagen which improves the texture of your skin overall.
Prescription Meds - Retin-A, Differin, or Tazorac - used to even the skin color. In moderate to severe cases Doxycycline-Doryx or minocycline-Dynacin will be prescribed as an oral antibiotic.