After you visit the esthetician for a wax or attempt to wax body hair yourself, you may notice red, itchy bumps along the area where the wax was applied. It's a common reaction to waxing, but it can be embarrassing, especially if the bumps are on visible areas of the face such as the upper lip or eyebrow. By understanding the cause of these bumps, you'll know how to prevent them in the future and treat them properly if and when they appear.
Signs and Symptoms
The bumps on your skin often appear after you've waxed or shaved and can sometimes look like acne. Your skin's reaction to waxing may also manifest as simple redness and inflammation due to the trauma of waxing the hair. You may also notice red bumps that are swollen and painful, with a small loop of hair at the top of the bump.
Irritation or Infection
A pimple-link rash that occurs immediately after waxing may be due to irritation of the skin from the waxing process. Red bumps can also be caused by ingrown hairs, when the hair is broken or pulled incorrectly and begins to grow into the side of the follicle wall. Bumps after shaving are sometimes caused by folliculitis, an infection of the hair follicle, notes UofMHealth.org. Sometimes known as "barber's rash," folliculitis appears when bacteria, yeast or other fungus is introduced into the hair follicle and infected.
By waxing your hair in a clean environment, you can avoid the spread of bacteria on your body. If you're having your waxing done professionally, check to ensure that your esthetician doesn't use the same spatula the entire time she waxes, as she could be transferring bacteria from your skin into the wax and back again. If you wax on your own, exfoliate your skin with salicylic acid beforehand to remove germs from your skin. After waxing, wear loose-fitting clothes that don't rub and further irritate your skin to cause even more bumps, suggests the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology.
If you've already gotten bumps after waxing, treat them by dabbing on cortisone cream. Cortisone helps to restrict the blood vessels to diminish redness and annoying itch. If your red bumps are caused by ingrown hairs, use a pair of sterilized tweezers to gently lift out the embedded end of hair, leaving the root of the hair intact to avoid infection and further pain and redness.
While most bouts of folliculitis or waxing redness go away after a few days, if your skin is severely infected, you may need an antifungal ointment to treat the problem. If your red bumps persist for more than three days, even after wearing loose clothes and applying cortisone cream, schedule an appointment with your doctor for a prescription cream instead. You may also want to choose a different method of hair removal in the future.