An isolated pimple that appears after you've shaved can be treated with simple remedies. However, a group of pimples caused by shaving coarse, curly hair may be a condition called folliculitis that can be more difficult to manage. If the cause is a bacterial or fungal infection, you'll need medication from your doctor to cure the problem. Taking some simple precautions before shaving may help prevent the problem.
If you squeeze a whitehead filled with a bit of pus, the trauma to the skin can cause a pimple to form. Pimples contain debris and white blood cells that can spread into the surrounding area, causing an unsightly blemish that may not heal properly. People with oily skin are more likely to develop pimples on the face after shaving. Pimples can also appear after shaving the armpits, legs or the groin area. Never squeeze these areas. Instead, apply a bit of benzoyl peroxide to the area to help it dry out or simply allow it to heal by itself. (Ref. 7, p. 7)
A rash of itchy, mildly painful pimples around a hair follicle on your neck or pubic area may actually be an infection called folliculitis. The follicle, which attaches the hair under the skin, can be irritated by shaving and become infected by a bacteria normally found on the skin called Staphylococcus aureus. To heal the folliculitis, your doctor may prescribe clindamycin lotion or gel, an antibiotic that kills S. aureus when applied to the skin. (Ref. 3) If the folliculitis is severe, you may need to take prescribed antibiotics by mouth.
Recurring Pimples on the Face
Men who have coarse, curly beards may develop a condition on the face or neckline called pseudofolliculitis barbae that looks much like folliculitis. Shaving this type of beard can cause the hairs to pierce the skin, causing ingrown hairs. Warm compresses to the affected skin can relieve some of the inflammation and make it easier to remove the ingrown hair with tweezers. Your doctor may advise you to use an antiinflammatory ointment on the affected area and to allow the beard to grow out slightly to prevent more ingrown hairs from forming. Sometimes antibiotics are given by mouth as well. (Ref. 6)
To prevent pimples after shaving, make sure that your razor blade is sharp and clean. Soften the skin with hot water before shaving and apply a shaving gel to the area, leaving it on for four minutes before starting to shave. Take care to shave in only one direction, preferably top to bottom when shaving the face. (Ref. 2) Avoid using pressure that can break the skin while you shave. If you cannot see the area you are shaving, consider having the procedure done by a professional, especially if the pubic area is involved. Apply moisturizer after shaving to rehydrate the skin.
- The Merck Manual Professional Edition: Description of Skin Lesions
- Clinical Dermatology; Thomas P. Habif
- The Merck Manual Professional Edition: Folliculitis
- The Merck Manual Professional Edition: Tinea Barbae
- American Academy of Dermatology: How to Shave
- The Merck Manual Professional Edition: Pseudofolliculitis Barbae
- The Encyclopedia of Skin and Skin Disorders (3rd ed.); Carol Turkington and Jeffrey S. Dover
- Dermatology; Jean L. Bolognia, Joseph L. Jorizzo, and Ronald P. Rapini