- History of shaving
- Razor burn or razor bump - what is the difference?
- Symptoms of razor burns
- What causes razor burns?
- Treatment of razor burns
- 29 home remedies for razor burns
- Things to remember
Even though shaving is a quick and affordable method for removal of excess hair, it can have a very unpleasant adverse effect known as razor burns (also called shaving rash or razor rash). It is a type of skin irritation that occurs soon after an area of skin is shaved. It appears as an itchy, swollen red rash with a burning sensation. This post features a detailed evidence based look at symptoms, causes, treatment options (e.g. ointments, pharmaceuticals and home remedies) and prevention of razor burns.
Numerous cave paintings dating to prehistoric times show clean-shaven men, and the procedure of removing unwanted body hair is estimated to go as back as 40,000 years, according to a 2012 report in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. In the present day, 99% people remove excess hair. The most common method of hair removal is shaving, followed by plucking.
Razor burn (shaving rash) is just a mild irritation of the skin after shaving. It is just a swollen red rash causing a burning sensation. Razor bumps (folliculitis barbae, pseudofolliculitis barbae or barber's rash) are caused by inflammation (e.g. when microbes, such as Staphylococcus aureus bacteria infect the hair follicle) and appear as pustules - e.g. fluid (pus) filled bumps that can form on the skin. Sometimes symptoms of both conditions appear simultaneously.
This is how razor burns look like:
Also both razor burns and bumps can be caused by shaving and their symptoms may be quite similar.
However the treatment would be different. While some soothing agents or emolients (e.g. hydrating balms, lotions, etc.) can help you deal with razor burns you may need to take antibiotics or topical corticosteroids to get rid of razor bumps.
To get proper treatment for your razor burns and/or bumps you should always pay a visit to your dermatologist (e.g. physician treating skin conditions). Untreated bumps can cause serious trouble.
Razor rash is more common among men who frequently shave their faces. Women may also suffer from razor burns after shaving arms, legs or armpits. There are various causes behind razor burns, such as using a blunt blade, using a strong soap, using a razor on dry skin, sensitive and unconditioned skin. It is a source of vast discomfort and unsightly skin that may appear after shaving your legs, face, arms or any other body part while removing unwanted hair.
Symptoms of razor burn usually include:
Other methods of removing excess hair include laser removal, electrolysis, waxing and chemical depilatories.
Besides having an unpleasant appearance, razor burns and razor bumps cause a burning sensation and may become a chronic problem. Even though the two terms are usually used interchangeably, razor burn is a reddish rash that occurs after shaving, while razor bumps are tiny red bumps that erupt on the skin after a shave. Razor bumps are also called ingrown hairs and they are a result of strands of hair curling back into their own follicles.
Some people only experience razor bumps or burns sometimes while for others it is a frequently occurring problem. In both cases, the irritation can be relieved and their appearance can be minimized.
Irritated skin appears in razor burn when a dull blade is used or an improper shaving technique is applied. Razor burn appears as a reddish rash a few minutes after shaving (after hair starts to grow through skin pores) and in most cases disappears in a matter of few hours to few days. Its duration depends on severity. In severe cases, welts or infected pustules may also appear alongside razor burns. The eruption of a rash during shaving usually indicates the lack of moisture of lubrication. Razor burn is a widespread problem, particularly among those people who remove coarse hairs on areas with sensitive skin like pubic hair, armpit hair, chest hair, hair on bikini line and beard.
Razor burn takes place when skin is dislodged and when hair follicles are twisted by the action of razor blades. Prevalence and severity of razor burns can be reduced by proper shaving techniques. These techniques include:
Modern multiple-blade razors do provide you with a closer shave, but people with sensitive skin find them to be a source of razor burns as compared to single blade razors.
There are several causes of appearance of shaving bumps after shaving in men:
In this section we will take a detailed look at treatment options and prevention of razor burns.
The best way to treat razor burns is to avoid them in the first place. Some easy efforts can reduce or prevent the appearance of razor burns such as:
Some of the proven products for prevention of razor burns
Besides home remedies and clinical ointments and lotions, there are also some products available in the market for treatment of razor burns. These products will give you fast relief from itching, stinging, and redness.
Here are some treatment options for razor burns on face, neck and bikini line.
There are some methods to gain rapid relief before trying a long term cure. Some treatment remedies for razor burns have been suggested by people who have tried them. Here are some effective remedies:
Tips for men to treat of razor burns on neck, chin, jaw-line, and face:
If you shave regularly, you will experience razor burns at one point or another. This can be quite a problem for men who are habitual of shaving daily or work in a professional environment that requires them to be well groomed. Here are a few tips for men to deal with razor burns (especially the ones that appear on facial area).
For a light razor burn, over the counter treatment option is benzyl peroxide. Benzyl peroxide is usually used for treatment of acne but benzyl peroxide creams and lotions can treat razor burns as well. For more severe razor burns purchase cortisone cream or topical steroid cream but only upon recommendation of a dermatologist.
For folliculitis caused by Pseudomonas bacteria, an antibacterial face wash or antibiotics ciprofloxacin or levoflaxacin are used.
Fungal folliculitis is dealt with antifungal ointments like lotrimin and medicines like fluconazole. Your doctor will prescribe these medicines after thorough examination and diagnosis of problem.
Tea tree oil is an excellent soothing agent and works wonders when it comes to relieving irritation caused by razor burns (8).
Just rub some good quality tea tree oil over affected skin area and it will help to moisturize and saturate skin and relieve irritation. If you use a moisturizing ointment or cream, simply add two drops of the oil to enhance its affects and apply after removing unwanted hair.
Note: Apply this immediately after shaving for optimum results.
Baby powder has various applications for skin conditions and one of them is to clear up rashes. Usually it is used to relieve diaper rash in babies but its soothing qualities have also proven useful for people suffering from razor burns.
Just sprinkle or dab baby powder onto sensitive area ten to fifteen minutes before shaving.
Note: This is a great solution for ingrown hair and prevents razor bumps when used before shaving.
Coconut oil is a brilliant remedy for various skin afflictions like razor burns.
You can use it as a lotion and it will clear up any kind of rashes and welts caused by shaving on sensitive skin. Simply rub it over the affected regions and let it absorb into the skin.
Note: It has a wonderful smell so it is not unpleasant to use and it works effectively to clear up razor burns.
If you notice appearance of razor burns after you shave, just prepare a thick paste of strawberries and use it as a skin ointment.
Wash and mash some strawberries and then apply this paste over chafed, irritated area. The razor burns will soon disappear.
Note: This is a great remedy for razor bumps in people with sensitive, dry skin and this paste has a great smell.
Witch hazel is an all in one remedy for skin problems. It has cooling, soothing properties that make it a great antidote for treating razor burns.
Mix it up with a thick cream and slather it over affected area to benefit from its therapeutic properties.
Note: To obtain relief from razor burns, apply this at least once a week.
It is an excellent formula for using coconut and sugar for preparing an effective ointment. This is a great remedy for relieving razor bumps and burns and soothing skin irritated by shaving.
Simply combine two tablespoons of sugar with two spoons of coconut oil and a spoon of nectar juice. Apply this over affected area.
Note: Leave it on for a few minutes and then wash it off with clean water.
Baking soda is a fantastic home remedy for treating razor burns.
Dissolve a spoon of baking soda in a glass of water. Take a cotton ball, soak in baking soda mixture and dab over affected area. Allow it to dry for about fifteen minutes and then wash it off.
Note: Burning sensation and itching will vanish. Apply as long as it takes for razor burns to completely disappear.
Apply good quality lavender, calendula or chamomile oil to treat razor bumps. Known for their soothing and rejuvenating properties, these essential oils alleviate rashes and irritation on the skin’s surface. Before rubbing onto skin, dilute few drops of oil in water or they may further aggravate skin.
Note: Never apply undiluted essential oils directly onto skin.
Honey with its antibacterial properties is useful for treating razor bumps accompanied by infected pustules or razor bumps.
How to use:
Slather honey directly over affected area and afterwards wash off with cool clean water.
Note: Apply at least once daily for treatment of razor bumps.
It is an exceptionally excellent remedy to alleviate stinging and burning sensation caused by razor bumps. It soothes and calms the skin and the burns soon disappear.
Wrap some ice cubes or a block of ice in a towel and apply over irritated skin area.
Acne (pimples) on face
You can also soak some cloth in frosty cold water and apply it over razor burns.
Apply cool packs whenever razor burns flare up.
Note: To avoid razor bumps in the first place, squirt cold water over shaved area immediately after shaving.
Apple cider vinegar has lots of uses in beauty and medicine. It may help you get a rapid relief from razor bumps by using apple cider vinegar. It is soothing and has antiseptic properties that prevent infection and further exacerbation.
Dip a clean cotton ball in apple cider vinegar and dab it onto the affected zone.
Allow it to air dry, and then wash it off with clean water.
Repeat this process few times a day until irritation stops.
Note: People with sensitive skin should dissolve apple cider vinegar in water before applying it.
It is an alternate simple and straightforward remedy for treating razor burns. The mitigating quality of analgesic medicine helps reduce redness and aggravation.
Place two tablets of aspirin in one teaspoon of warm water. Allow them to dissolve in water for a while until it forms a paste. Rub the paste onto affected skin area.
Leave it on for ten to fifteen minutes, and after that wash it off with clean water.
Use this simple remedy twice a day to get rid of razor burns.
Note: Those with exceptionally sensitive skin should not use this remedy.
Aloe vera is another simple remedy for treating razor burns caused by shaving. Its cooling, soothing properties alleviate stinging and discomfort and provide relief.
Extract aloe vera gel from an aloe vera plant or purchase some in your local pharmacy.
Apply the gel on the affected area of skin.
Allow it to dry all on its own, and after that rinse it off with cool water.
Note: Apply this remedy few times a day till razor burns disappear.
Cut a fresh cucumber into slices and place the slices into your fridge for half an hour. Rub the cool cucumber slices directly over affected skin with razor burns.
Another way to use cucumber for treating razor burns is to blend a large portion of a cucumber and combine it with some milk. Place this mixture in your fridge for half an hour or so. Apply it on the affected skin areas. Leave it on for about ten minutes and then wash off with cool water.
Note: Use this remedy twice a day.
Petroleum jelly such as vaseline can be used to alleviate discomfort and stinging caused by razor burns.
Clean the irritated area properly. Take a small amount of unscented petroleum jelly or vaseline and apply a thin coat on the razor burn. Leave it on for a few minutes and use a wet cloth to gently wipe away excess petroleum jelly.
Use oatmeal as a remedy for shaving burns and itchiness as follows:
Prepare a paste of finely ground oatmeal combined with yogurt and honey. Apply this paste on the area that is irritated. Leave it on for half an hour. Afterwards rinse it off with cool water.
Use this remedy two times a day to treat razor burns. This remedy can also be used to prevent razor burns after shaving.
Black tea bags are mostly used to deal with sunburn, but they can also be used to relieve irritation and discomfort caused by razor burns.
Put teabags in lukewarm water. Then place them in your refrigerator to cool down. After about ten minutes, apply them on influenced skin area with razor burns.
Like honey, yogurt also has bactericidal traits that make it an effective remedy against razor burns. It has a cooling and soothing effect. You just have to mix one spoon of plain yogurt with one teaspoon of honey and slather this mixture over irritated skin area. Leave it on for ten to fifteen minutes and then rinse the mixture off with clean water. Repeat this process at least two times a day. This remedy is ideal for those women who get razor bumps after shaving their legs to remove excess hair.
Olive oil has anti inflammatory qualities and it keeps the skin smooth.
Just mix one tablespoon of olive oil and a few drops of tea tree oil together in a bowl. Using a cotton ball, dab this oil mixture onto affected are and leave it on for 15 minutes.
Then rinse it off with clean, lukewarm water.
Lemon juice is another useful home remedy for treating razor burns. It helps to not only alleviate redness and irritation associated with razor burns but also fights infection.
To treat shave burns with lemon juice, follow these instructions:
Take a fresh lemon and cut it into two halves.
Extract its juice and then apply it over the affected area of the skin using a clean cotton ball.
Leave the juice on for some time to dry and then wash the area with cold water.
Repeat this process two times a day to treat razor burns and to ward off any infections.
Essential oils have many medicinal properties. Lavender essential oil is known for its soothing and healing traits. It helps to eliminate any stinging and irritation that may have developed on the skin as a result of a razor burn. Apply lavender oil over affected area by diluting six to eight drops of it in carrier oil, such as almond oil or grape seed oil, and gently rub onto the skin.
Cocoa butter can be used to reduce discomfort caused by razor burns. Purchase some high quality cocoa butter from your local super market. Slather cocoa butter over the razor burn. Cocoa butter diminishes the skin inflammation caused by a razor burn. You should leave the cocoa butter on the affected area for a few minutes to obtain maximum relief.
Warm compress has also found to be useful in curing razor burn problem. It basically helps to soften the skin and soothes it from irritation. Take a clean towel and dip it into some warm water. Now wring the towel to squeeze out excess water. Dab this towel on the influenced body parts. The steam and heat will provide relief from pain.
Even if you have sensitive skin and wish to shave daily, you can avoid razor burns by keeping these useful points in mind:
The cheapest razors come at a dear price when you ponder over how many times you can use them and how many problems they cause due to their poor quality. Instead purchase a good quality razor that has an adjustable head which adjusts to the shape of the shaved surface. While using a good quality, you won’t have to repeat the strokes in the same spot more than once or twice, reducing the possibility of getting a razor burn.
Whether it’s the hair on your arms or legs or facial air, it should be softened before you shave it. The best way to do this is to take a shower or bath before you shave. If it’s too time consuming and not possible because you have a different hygiene routine or you are in a hurry to go somewhere, apply a shaving gel or cream to the skin area and leave it on for a few minutes before you start shaving. Your hair will become soft and the skin area will be protected from irritation. The shaving gel or lotion also acts as a lubricant and allows the blade to slide more smoothly over your skin.
Always shave in the direction of hair growth. It might appear that shaving against this direction will give a smoother shaving affect, but keep in mind that if you shave every day, the neatness and smoothness will only last twenty four hours but will have endure the razor burn and stinging for three days. Better to have a safe, neat shave instead of having bruised, inflamed skin with red patches.
If you want to have smooth skin, moisturize it after shaving. Shaving removes the outermost layer of the skin and the epidermal cells need stimulation to get regenerated. That is why it is important that you apply a moisturizing cream or lotion every single time that you shave. If you do not have oily skin, you can apply olive oil or almond oil on the freshly shaved skin area. These oils stimulate skin rejuvenation process.
As it is important to rinse the razor thoroughly after every use, it is also vital that you dry it well after use. If you leave the razor blades wet, they get dull quickly and will bruise your skin more easily. Dry the razor with a hygienic cloth after every shave.
Keep your skin and hands clean while shaving and do not use razor blades used by somebody else. Barbers ad salon owners usually compromise on hygiene so ensure that they use a fresh razor blade or you could be exposed to a risk of many diseases besides razor burn and bumps.
|Written by:||Michal Vilímovský (EN)|
|Education:||Medical student, 3rd Faculty of Medicine, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic|
See numbered references within the article.
|Published:||August 10, 2016 7:40 PM|
|Next scheduled update:||August 10, 2018 7:40 PM|