What are razor bumps?
Razor bumps, also called pseudofolliculitis barbae, are small, irritated bumps on the skin. They develop after shaving, when strands of hair curl back on themselves and grow into the skin. Razor bumps cause irritation and pimples. They also may cause scarring.
How are razor bumps treated?
The best way to treat razor bumps is to stop shaving. If you cannot stop shaving, use a clean needle to release the embedded hair shaft. This usually stops razor bumps from developing, depending on the severity.
But if shaving is restarted, razor bumps typically return.
Severe razor bumps that do not go away with home treatment may be treated with medicine you spread on the skin, such as hydrocortisone, antibiotic, or tretinoin cream.
Do shaving alternatives stop the development of razor bumps?
Razor bumps will generally go away if shaving is stopped. Hair removal products (depilatories) can be used instead of shaving. But these products can irritate the skin and should be used only once or twice a week.
Laser treatment may be an option. Laser treatment destroys the hair follicle and reduces the number of bumps that form. It can provide relief when other treatments have not worked, although some hair may eventually regrow and return to normal thickness.1
Can razor bumps be prevented?
Following these shaving instructions can help prevent razor bumps from forming:
- Take a hot shower before shaving, to soften the hair and open the pores.
- Use a thick shaving gel.
- Don't stretch the skin when shaving, and always shave in the direction your beard grows. Use the fewest razor strokes possible. Rinse with cold water.
- Use an electric razor if it can be adjusted to a higher setting.
- After shaving, press a cold wet cloth against your face for 5 minutes.
Who is at risk for razor bumps?
Razor bumps are common among African Americans and people with tightly coiled hair. Razor bumps tend to be more of a problem for men than women, because many men shave daily.
- Schulze R, et al. (2009). Low-fluence 1,064-nm laser hair reduction for pseudofolliculitis barbae in skin types IV, V, and VI. Dermatologic Surgery, 35(1): 98–107.
Other Works Consulted
- Habif TP, et al. (2005). Pseudofolliculitis barbae (razor bumps, ingrown hair). In Skin Disease Diagnosis and Treatment, 2nd ed., pp. 150–152. Philadelphia: Elsevier Mosby.
|Editor||Susan Van Houten, RN, BSN, MBA|
|Associate Editor||Pat Truman, MATC|
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Alexander H. Murray, MD, FRCPC - Dermatology|
|Last Updated||June 8, 2009|
Last Updated: June 8, 2009