Is shaving a cause of skin irritation? Do you want to know how to prevent razor bumps or that annoying rash that seems to appear every time you shave?
Men and women alike want a nice smooth shave, but cutting the hair too close to the skin is one of the main causes of razor bumps.
Shaven hair often has a sharp or pointed tip that can sometimes curve back toward the skin as it grows out, and may actually penetrate the skin or re-enter the follicle.
Since this is not supposed to happen, your immune system will consider the "ingrown hair" an intruder and will try to find ways to fight it. This reaction by your body usually causes red, inflamed bumps to form on the surface of the skin.
These pimple-like spots can be tender, painful, or itchy, and in some cases, may become infected or pus-filled. If not treated, razor bumps can sometimes spread to become an irritating rash and, in severe cases, may even cause scarring.
Although anyone can be affected, razor bumps are most common in people with thick curly hair, and are more prevalent among African Americans and Hispanics. Typically, it is a bigger issue for men than women, since men usually have coarse facial hair that is shaved daily.
Razor Bump Treatments
In the past, most doctors and dermatologists recommended that people affected by razor bumps simply stop shaving until their skin cleared. Obviously, this is not always a good option. Some men grow spotty, scraggly beards and prefer to be clean shaven. And, let's face it, how many women want to go the beach with hairy underarms?
Besides, while this may give the skin a chance to heal, razor bumps will usually return as soon you start shaving again.
Over the years, there have been several methods used to help prevent razor bumps, but not all of these treatments have been effective for everyone.
Topical creams and lotions: Many people claim to have found some relief when using lotions that contain anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, or antibiotic agents. In some cases, cortisone or other prescription drugs have been effective, and one study shows promising results for the use of glycolic lotions. Unfortunately, these treatments usually have to be applied daily, and long-term use is not only expensive, but may also cause other adverse side effects.
Waxing, Plucking, Tweezing: Razor burn or irritation after shaving can sometimes lead to razor bumps, so people with extremely sensitive skin often prefer waxing or plucking. However, similar to shaving, these methods may also result in sharp pointed hair tips that can cause ingrown hairs, particularly in people who are susceptible due to thick or curly hair.
Depilatories: Hair removal creams leave rounded tips that are less likely to curl back and grow into the skin or follicle; however, they usually contain a lot of strong chemicals that can cause irritation and rashes. And, they often smell awful!
How to Prevent Razor Bumps Between Laser Treatments
Laser hair treatment kills hair follicles, greatly reducing the amount of hair growth in any particular area. In most cases, any re-growth is much thinner and finer, reducing the likelihood of developing ingrown hairs or razor bumps. Some people have even reported a fading of scars caused by previous razor bumps.
Yes, treatments can be costly, but so can the need for prescription creams and lotions. And, laser hair removal can prevent razor bumps rather than simply treating the symptoms after they have appeared.
10 Tips to Prevent Razor Bumps
Laser hair removal requires a series of treatments over a period of time, depending on the area and how your skin reacts to the procedure. Because of the cost and time involved, it may be several weeks, or even months, before you enjoy the full benefits.
While you are saving your pennies or waiting for treatment, you may still need to shave. But, by following a few tips, you can protect your skin and reduce the risk of developing razor bumps.
Soften skin. Shave during, or immediately following, a shower or bath. Warm water will soften the skin and hair and open pores. If you cannot shower, place a warm towel or compress on the area to be shaved for 3-5 minutes before proceeding.
Use a thick shaving gel or cream to prevent friction between your skin and the blade. Avoid products that have numbing agents, as these tend to close or clog pores.
Shave in the same direction as hair growth. You have probably been taught to shave against the grain because it will give you a closer, smoother result. Unfortunately, it also increases the risk of razor bumps.
Use a single blade razor. Multi-blade razors are designed to cut hair as close to the skin as possible. In fact, some claim to lift the hair, actually removing it from below the skin line. This increases the risk of those pointed ends curling back and penetrating the skin as they grow.
Change your blade frequently. Blades should be changed at least once a week to avoid shaving with a dull razor.
Shave gently. Pushing too hard against the skin can cause friction and irritation which will lead to razor burn and bumps.
Avoid stretching the skin when shaving, as this can result in "too close" of a shave, leading to irritation and razor bumps.
Rinse the shaved area with cool water or cover with cold compresses to help irritated skin recover and reduce the risk of inflammation.
If possible, minimize the frequency of shaving with a blade, by alternately using an electric razor. Ladies may also wish to rotate hair removal methods, using shaving, waxing, or depilatories on a alternating basis.
And, remember, if you have a lot of razor bumps, you should consider other forms of hair removal. For those with sensitive skin or especially coarse and curly hair, laser treatment may provide the desired results without the irritation and rash.
So, if you are tired of sore, red, irritated skin, contact a salon or treatment center and learn how to prevent razor bumps with laser hair removal.