Have you ever noticed strange bumps on your face that appear after a shave? Red bumps can be pimples, and in many cases, hives. But the ones that pop up after shaving are the result of ingrown hair, also called ‘razor bumps’.
Hair is normally supposed to rise up from skin. When it curls and grows back into the skin, it becomes what is referred to as an ingrown hair. This condition is characterised by red bumps accompanied by itching and inflammation around the affected area.
Although ingrown hairs do not pose a serious threat and usually go away once the hair has grown a little longer, the accompanying itch and discomfort is more than enough to pester most guys.
Furthermore, these bumps that trap the hair can turn into small pus-filled boils, which are even more painful and annoying. Ingrown hair occurs after shaving, and usually appears on the cheeks, neck, and chin. You can also get them on your arms, legs, or other parts of your body that you shave as well, however.
Who Gets Ingrown Hair?
Anyone can get ingrown hair, but it is more common with people who shave or wax unwanted hair. People with curly or coarse hair often suffer from razor bumps. This is because coarse hair is more likely to curl and slip back into the skin, particularly after a close shave.
Ingrown hair can also occur when the skin lacks exfoliation, and makes dead skin cells clog up a hair follicle. This prevents the hair from growing outward, and makes it curl back under the skin.
Although men are more prone to razor bumps, women get it too, especially after shaving or waxing the legs, armpits or the pubic area.
How To Treat An Ingrown Hair
Usually, ingrown hair goes away on its own. The best thing to do is to grow out your facial hair. Sometimes, the area can get infected, resulting in the darkening of skin. Make sure to never scratch or pick at a razor bump as this can leave behind permanent scars.
Now most of you men out there definitely do not have to worry about this, however if the inflammation is so bad that you attain an infection, you should go see your doctor who will most likely do the following:
- Help release the trapped hair by making a small cut in the skin.
- Give you steroid medicines to rub on your skin to reduce inflammation.
- Prescribe antibiotics to either take orally or to rub on your skin to treat infection.
The key here is to always leave them alone. Picking or scratching at it to release the hair will only further augment your risk of infection and cause unwanted inflammation. Give the hair time to grow longer. If it does not get better on its own, that is when you need to go and see a doctor.
In no case should you try to release the trapped hair by yourself. A lot can go wrong during this process and is usually not worth the risk.
You can also get ingrown hairs by trimming your beard as well. Because of this, it is highly recommended that you put a few dollars more and buy a beard trimmer with solid, hypoallergenic blades to reduce the chances of facial hair curling up from the weaker blades that are equipped on the cheaper products.
How To Avoid Ingrown Hair
Trying to prevent this condition is much easier than treating it. While razor bumps can still occur occasionally when you shave, you can reduce the chance of getting them by simply doing the following things, which also go hand in hand with these tips for acne sufferers:
Exfoliate Your Skin
Dead skin clogs up the pores on your face and traps hair that’s cut very closely. To minimize this, exfoliate your skin every day, especially after a shave. Take a damp or wet towel and run it across your cheeks, chin, and neck in a circular motion to release any ingrown hair. This will also help remove dead skin and open up the pores.
Change Your Razor More Often
A close shave is usually responsible for ingrown hair. If there’s no way you can avoid a close shave, change your razor. A cartridge razor, for instance, causes ingrown hair because the first blade pulls out the hair and the second one cuts it. This makes your facial hair curl back under the surface, which is exactly what you don’t want to happen.
Switching to a double-edged safety razor is a great idea because the single blade simply evades the curling of your facial hair, and in fact gives you a much smoother shave if practiced properly.
Shave After A Shower
After a hot shower, your pores are open and your facial hair is the softest. This is the best time for a shave, because smooth skin and soft hair give a better shave and dramatically reduce the chance of ingrown hair.
If it isn’t possible to shave after a shower, you should soak your face in warm water before you shave, and always use a lubricating shaving cream or gel. This will soften your skin and give a better shave.
Improve Your Shaving Technique
For a close shave, men usually shave against the direction of hair growth. While this does help you achieve a clean shave, it also increases your chances of getting ingrown hair. To prevent razor bumps, it is advisable to shave in the direction of hair growth first, then going against the direction on the second pass.
Lastly, do not apply pressure on the razor, since this can result in nicks and cuts and even further irritation of your skin.
Take Care Of Your Razor
Your shaving tools are responsible to a great extent for razor bumps. Never shave with a blunt blade. Rinse your razor after every stroke, and clean and sterilise the blades before you store them.
Remember to splash cold water on your face after a shave, and apply an aftershave lotion if possible. This will soothe the skin and ease up any irritation that may otherwise occur.
That sums up everything you need to know about ingrown hair. In the end, just leaving the affected area alone and letting it grow out is the ideal remedy to the problem. It might not be what you want to hear, but it is what works best.
Of course, remember to prep your skin before a shave, take care while shaving, and soothe the skin afterwards to minimise chances of razor bumps from plaguing your skin and putting a hamper on your overall appearance as a well groomed man.