In common parlance, it is called in different names like ‘barber’s itch’, ‘barber’s rash’, ‘shaving bumps’, ‘razor rashes’, ‘razor lumps’, ‘razor burns’, or ‘shaving rashes’.
The shaving bumps happen when the strands of cut hair curl back on themselves and grow into the skin.
“Razor bumps occur after shaving with a very close cut, the hair curls back, preventing its re-exit through the skin. This causes the bump which later becomes inflamed and even potentially infected,” says Dr. Joely Kaufman M.D., a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology.
Razor burn is more common among men with thick curly hair. Women who shave their bikini line hair, armpit, legs, and hands also might face this issue.
“Women and men with coarse and/or curly hair are more prone to developing ingrown hair and it is more commonly seen in the African and African-American population,” says Nada Elbuluk, MD, MSc, assistant professor in the Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology at NYU Langone Medical Center. Dr. Elbuluk also points out that various types of hair removal methods such as waxing, shaving, plucking, and threading can lead to ingrown hairs.
The ingrown hair is mistaken for the body to be a foreign intruder and reacts to it as the body does to the infectious microorganism. This results in a pimple-like bump, skin irritation, itchy inflammations, and scarring.
Razor lumps may not create any serious health problems but they are highly irritating and destroy the beautiful skin texture. The bumps may get filled with puss, discolor the skin, and usually forms keloidal scars on the affected area.
But in some cases, a severe bacterial infection in the razor burns can cause serious health issues to some people. “About 30 percent of healthy people carry the bacteria Staphylococcus Aureus on their skin. But when it enters the skin — through a small cut, like from shaving, waxing, or a picked ingrown — it can create an abscess that grows until it’s drained,” says Dr.George G. Kihiczak, a clinical instructor of dermatology at NYU.
How To Get Rid Of Razor Bumps?
Razor irritation can occur on any hairy part of the body after shaving; from face and underarms to thighs and legs. Shaving irritation easily happens in the bikini line area. Itching rashes in the bikini line area can be highly embarrassing.
Fortunately, you can get rid of razor bumps on your bikini area and other parts of the body with DIY natural remedies, prescription medicines, OTC products, and preventive measures.
DIY Care And Solutions
Rashes, itches, and inflamed lumps caused by shaving are irritating and painful. Do not scratch or pick the razor lumps as this make them inflamed and cause scars.
Razor rashes do not last long for more than three to four days. If you cannot wait and endure the pain and irritation, you can get rid of razor rashes overnight or within two days by using any of the good natural remedies we are about to discuss here.
There are also prescription medicines or OTC products that you can use to remove the rashes and bumps caused by shaving. However, if you have severe bacterial infections occurring in the inflamed ingrown hair, you must seek the help of a professional dermatologist to get rid of the issue.
Now let us see some of the DIY home remedies which work well for barber’s itch and rashes.
1. Cold/Hot Compress
Doing a cold compress is an effective solution to get relief from razor burns. It reduces the pain and irritation by creating a temporary numbing sensation. You can prevent the possible occurrence of razor bumps by doing a cold compress over the shaven area immediately after the shave.
You can perform a hot compress to soothe the itchy and irritant ingrown hair. The heating effects on the skin open up the skin pores and help the ingrown hair trapped under the skin to come out of the trap.
2. Baking Soda
Baking soda treatment is excellent for soothing the irritation and itching caused by the barber’s rash because of the anti-inflammatory properties in it.
Add one tablespoon of baking soda in one-half cup water and dilute it thoroughly; soak a cotton ball in the lotion and apply it to the affected areas of the skin.
Let the razor rashes get wet with baking soda solution for 5 minutes and then rinse the rash with cold water. Repeat this treatment 3 to 4 times a day till the burns and irritation fully subside and disappear.
3. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera gel contains two hormones: Auxin and Gibberellins. They have healing powers to soothe wounds and remove inflammation. Aloe vera is a popularly used natural treatment for getting rid of all kinds of skin rashes, burns, itching, and irritations.
You can directly apply the Aloe Vera gel on the shaved area of the skin to prevent and heal the bumps caused by razor cuts. It is good to use this natural gel every time after shaving to prevent rashes.
You can either get the ready-to-use Aloe Vera gel from the drug store or apply the juice from the freshly cut Aloe Vera leaves on the affected areas of the skin. After 15 minutes of applying the gel on the rashes, you can rinse it off with cold water.
4. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is a well-known home remedy for getting rid of all types of inflammations and infections on the skin. Tea Tree Oil contains powerful anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiseptic agents.
It is easy to manage the bumps and irritations caused by the ingrown hair by applying Tea Tree Oil to the affected areas. It is effective in preventing possible inflammation and bacterial infection that can happen to shave bumps.
You must always dilute the Tea Tree Oil in water or carrier oils before applying it to the skin.
For razor burns, apply on the affected area 3 drops of Tea Tree Oil diluted with 1 tablespoon coconut oil or water. Let the applied oil stay on the affected area for 10 minutes and then wash it off with lukewarm water. You can repeat this treatment twice or thrice a day till the irritation is fully gone.
Alternatively, you can mix the Tea Tree Oil in lavender oil, in a 2:5 drops ratio, and apply this blend on the skin rashes to get the best effects.
5. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a time-tested natural remedy for many of the infections and irritations that affect the skin. The acetic acid present in ACV is efficient in getting rid of bacterial infections. ACV also contains anti-inflammatory and anti-itch properties that can very well control the razor rashes on the skin.
You can directly apply the ACV on the razor burned area of the skin with a cotton ball. It is better to dilute the ACV with 1:1 ratio water if your skin is very sensitive to acid. For fast results, you could repeat the treatment thrice a day.
Honey is well utilized in folklore medicines for centuries because of its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Honey is effective in healing the burns and inflammation caused by razor bumps. It also helps to manage the itching and dryness that may accompany the shaving rashes.
You can directly apply pure and organic honey in the affected area of the skin with rashes and bumps. After 15 minutes of applying the honey, you can rinse it off the skin with cold water.
Alternatively, you can apply a mixture of yogurt and honey to get rid of the razor rashes overnight.
7. Lemon Juice
Lemon juice is known for its multiple benefits to the skin such as scar removal, healing inflammations, skin lightening, exfoliation, and anti-bacterial properties.
It helps to eliminate the infectious microbes that cause skin irritation and bumps after shaving.
The astringent elements in lemon juice help quickly to heal the inflamed bumps overnight.
With the help of a cotton ball, you can apply a few drops of lemon juice to the affected areas of the skin. If you have sensitive skin, it is better to dilute the lemon juice in two tablespoons of water before use.
After ten minutes of applying the lemon juice solution, you can rinse the treated area with cold water. Repeat the treatment 3 times a day to achieve the best results with this treatment.
Cucumber face packs and skin mask treatments are popularly used for rejuvenating the skin.
Cucumber can produce a moistening and calming effect on the razor burn affected areas of the skin. Also, cucumber contains Vitamin C and K which are effective for assuaging the irritation and bumps caused by shaving bumps.
Cut a fresh cucumber into thin slices and rub the slices over the razor rashes for 5 minutes. Repeat the treatment 3 times a day.
Alternatively, you can grind a handful of sliced cucumber and blend it in 30ml milk; apply this cucumber milk lotion on the affected areas of the skin; rinse off the application after 10 minutes with lukewarm water.
9. Witch Hazel
Witch hazel contains anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and antifungal properties that help cure various skin diseases. This herbal treatment can also help in reducing the rashes, itches, and inflammation associated with shaving bumps.
You can buy the Witch Hazel extract lotion from drugstores or online vendors; apply the lotion with the help of a cotton ball on the bumps and rashes affected area of the skin. You can rinse off the applied lotion from the skin after 20 minutes with cold water. Repeat the treatment thrice daily for fast results.
10. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil contains antifungal, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties that can deal with most of the common infections and bumps that appear on the skin. It is also an excellent natural moisturizer that can keep the skin well hydrated and supple.
You can clear up the razor burns from the skin by applying coconut oil on the affected areas of the skin. You can simply rub the oil onto the skin and let it absorb. Repeat this coconut oil treatment thrice a day to get rid of the bumps and rashes caused by shaving.
What are the mainstream treatments for razor bumps and ingrown hair?
If you are not a fan of natural remedies, there are several effective OTC and prescription medicines that you can use to manage bumps or ingrown hair problems.
It is best to take the OTC or prescription medicines recommended by your dermatologist. Prolonged use of OTC skincare care products may cause allergic reactions or other side effects in some people.
Here are some of the commonly used drugs that might provide you with the needed relief and cure of shaving rashes and bumps.
1. Glycolic Cream
Glycolic cream is one of the most commonly used solutions to overcome skin irritation and bumps caused by waxing or shaving.
This ointment is also said to be effective for removing hyperpigmentation and scarring.
The glycolic acid in this cream may not be agreeable to sensitive skin as it progressively removes the epidermis; resulting in skin dryness, flaking, and scarring.
2. Aspirin Paste
The Salicylic acid present in Aspirin helps to shed the dead and inflamed skin cells kill the bacteria and open up the clogged pores. It is best for treating inflamed bumps and rashes on the skin.
Crush and pound 2 Aspirin pills and knead them into a thin paste with the help of water. Apply the Aspirin paste on the bumps erupted area of the skin; after 15 minutes you can rinse off the application with lukewarm water.
3. Alum Block
Use an alum block to stop bleeding from small nicks and cuts and to cool and soothe skin irritation.
Alum block, which resembles a crystal bar, has antiseptic and anticoagulant properties good for healing cuts and inflammation on the skin.
Wet the affected or shaved area of the skin with water and gently rub the alum block on the skin for a couple of minutes.
It is best to use the Alum block immediately after shaving to prevent skin irritation and rashes from shaving. You can use it at any shaved area of the skin, including the face and bikini line area.
4. Hydrocortisone Cream
Hydrocortisone cream is an OTC product that you can use for managing inflamed skin. It works well for bumps, rashes, itches, eczema, and psoriasis.
This cream reduces or stops bleeding by constricting the blood flow to the irritated area of the skin. Hydrocortisone lotion is also beneficial for reducing irritation and rashes on the skin. Applying 1% hydrocortisone cream is recommended for razor burns.
5. Antibacterial Creams
Any good antibacterial creams can be used to heal the inflamed bumps and rashes on the skin caused by the razors. Bacitracin, Neosporin, Polysporin, Polymixin B, Neomycin, and Bacitracin are some of the most effective brands that you can get in a drugstore.
Tips For Preventing Razor Bumps And Ingrown Hair Through Correct Shaving Practices
If your skin is prone to shaving bumps and rashes, you should be extra cautious in adopting correct shaving practices. Here are some of the preventive steps you can adopt:
- Avoid the habit of daily shaving and wait for hair to grow a bit longer before shaving; armpits and bikini area could be shaved once a week only.
- Always glide the razor in the direction of hair growth to give a smooth angle to the tip of the remaining hair; mostly hair grows in the downward direction.
- Always use sharp razors, do not overuse them to the point of becoming blunt which does not cut the hair neatly; blunt blade also hurts and irritates the skin.
- Soak and splash warm water over the skin before shaving to make the skin and hair soft and smooth for comfortable and neat shaving; better to a do hot compress before the shave.
- Before shave lubricate the skin with pre-shave oil or shaving gel; do not shave when the skin is dry.
- Exfoliate the skin before shaving to open up the clogged skin pores; this helps to dislodge bacteria residing in the skin pores and dead skin cells.
- Do not run the razor over the shaved area too many times; if you are using a sharp razor, it is enough to pull the razor once or twice to remove all the hair neatly.
- Do not press the razor too hard on the skin while shaving; gently gliding the razor is more than sufficient to cut the hair perfectly parallel to the skin surface.
- You can rinse the skin with cold water aftershave; cold temperature closes up the skin pores and prevents bacteria from entering the skin pores.
- Pat dry the skin after the shave and apply the aftershave lotion and moisturizer to prevent burns and rashes; Aloe Vera gel is a good natural moisturizer to use.
- Do not wear tight clothing over the shaved area of the skin; tight clothing causes friction and traps sweat and bacteria. Wearing tight underwear is one of the major reasons for ingrown hair in the pubic area.
Use Alternative Methods Of Shaving
Using a razor for shaving increase the chances of getting bumps and rashes on the skin. There are alternative methods of hair removal which are safer than a using razor for shaving.
1. Chemical Depilatory
Chemical depilatory helps to neatly remove the hair without causing razor burns and rashes. This method is safer than waxing or shaving.
The depilatory method makes use of chemicals to remove the hairs neatly across the skin surface. The depilatory chemicals are usually infused into gel, roll-on-liquids, aerosol, cream, or lotion.
You have to apply the depilatory chemical on the hairs and let it stay on the hair for 5-10minutes. The hair becomes weak with the effect of chemicals and falls off easily when scrapped.
It is more convenient and safer than razor and waxing; no chances of cuts and blemishes on the skin. It is suitable for removing bikini lines and underarm hairs.
However, everyone will not find it easy to use the chemical solutions because of their foul smell and for allergic reactions in some cases. The cut ends of the hair also regrow after a few days and you have to repeat the treatment.
Waxing is the most commonly used attentive method of razor shaving. Waxing helps to remove the hairs from the roots and it takes up to 4 weeks for the regrowth of hair.
Waxing has reduced chances of developing ingrown hair because the new hairs that grow up after waxing are thinner and finer compared to shaving with a razor. However, incidences of skin irritation are higher with waxing than with the razor shave.
3. Laser Hair Removal
Laser hair removal is the safest method to get rid of unwanted hair with lasting results. It destroys the hair follicles with pulses of laser light.
It takes several months for the hair to regrow after the laser treatment. This is the most suitable hair removal solution for people who suffer from frequent bouts of razor bumps.
However, laser hair removal is expensive and you have to go through 4 to 6 sessions of treatment to get the hair fully removed.
The Bottom Line
Shaving bumps occur when the remnants of cut hair end in the hair follicles of the skin grow into the skin surrounding the follicles instead of growing out. The ingrown hair causes a pimple-like bump, irritation, and scarring.
Razor bumps are highly irritating and embarrassing. If they are not treated well on time, they can develop into serious inflammation on the skin and deep scar marks after healing.
One of the best ways to get rid of shaving bumps is to stop picking and pressing the bumps on the skin. To stop bumps and rashes on the skin after shaving, follow healthy shaving habits, and adopt all necessary preventive methods we have already discussed in this article.
If your skin is prone to barber’s itch and irritation, you need to use local disinfectant or antimicrobial treatment every time after shaving. Use iodine solution, Tea Tree Oil, or any alcohol-based post-shaving astringent to prevent the bumps and rashes caused by a razor.