Having ingrown hairs and red razor marks can be a bumpy ride if you don't know how to treat them. What you might not know is that these tiny red shaving bumps, known as pseudofolliculitis barbae, are nothing more than a trapped hair. The best ingrown-hair and razor-bump treatment includes a consistent cleaning routine, alcohol-based astringents and a little hydrocortisone cream. If the bumps don't go away, you may want to visit a dermatologist for in-office medical treatments.
Your first defense against ingrown hairs is a clean body. Wash your face and body daily with a mild cleanser formulated for your skin type. If your skin is oily, use an oil-free cleanser with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid; dry skin needs a creamy, lipid-free cleanser that hydrates the skin. Wash your face in small, upward circles using your fingertips; use a washcloth on the rest of your body to gently exfoliate the skin. Rinse well with warm water and pat your face and body dry with a clean towel.
Turn to Toner
Pour an alcohol-based toner with salicylic acid onto a cotton ball and gently swipe where razor bumps are a problem. Toner acts as a disinfectant to keep out further bacteria, cleans the skin from dirt and oil and helps shed the top layer of skin over the razor bump. Make sure to do this twice daily after every cleansing. If you want to apply moisturizer to the area, make sure it's lightweight and noncomedogenic so it won't further clog the pores.
Extract With Care
While the ingrown hair will dissolve on its own eventually, you can speed up the process by removing the hair with a pair of tweezers -- be sure to disinfect your tweezers with alcohol before beginning. Slip the pointy end under the loop of the ingrown hair and gently pull upward. Grab the hair with the tweezers and give it a quick, fast tug in the direction the hair grows. Afterward, dab some alcohol directly onto the area and spread on a pea-size amount of 1-percent hydrocortisone cream.
Seek Professional Help
Visit a board-certified dermatologist who can advise you on more permanent treatment options. She can prescribe medications, such as retinoids, antibiotics and steroids to help heal the skin. According to Minneapolis-based dermatologist Charles E. Crutchfield III, one of the best options for men with persistent pseudofolliculitis barbae is laser hair removal. He recommends treatments once a month for four to six months and then follow-up treatments once or twice a year afterward. Another option is electrolysis, a procedure that destroys the growth area of the hair follicle with heat energy.
- American Osteopathic College of Dermatology: Pseudofolliculitis Barbae
- National Institutes of Health: A Guide to the Ingredients and Potential Benefits of Over-the-Counter Cleansers and Moisturizers for Rosacea Patients
- The Merck Manual: Pseudofolliculitis Barbae
- Elle: Ingrowns
- Dermatology Times: Laser, Shaving Tips Address Pseudofolliculitis Barbae