Most people who shave experience skin irritation from time to time. This irritation may take different forms, but if your recently shaved skin has broken out in small white pimple-like bumps, you probably have folliculitis, which can affect people of all ages. Though it may be itchy and unsightly, folliculitis is rarely serious and can usually be treated at home.
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Folliculitis is a common infection of the hair follicles, the openings in your skin where hairs come through. It typically appears in areas where you've shaved as small, white and itchy pus-filled bumps surrounding individual hair follicles. These bumps may be tinged with blood or may break open and crust over.
The friction from shaving can damage hair follicles, which then become infected with a fungus or a bacteria such as Staphylococcus. Folliculitis can also occur when the shaved hairs begin growing in and curl back around to the skin. Even if you haven't shaved recently, folliculitis can result from the friction of clothing rubbing against skin or excess perspiration.
Most cases of folliculitis from shaving are mild enough to clear up on their own; however, if the white bumps are uncomfortable or unsightly, you may wish to speed up their healing at home. Apply a warm wet washcloth to the bumps several times per day and wash the area with an antibacterial soap or apply an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment. Hydrocortisone cream or an oatmeal-based lotion may help ease itchiness.
If you shave regularly, folliculitis may be a constant battle for you. To prevent white bumps before they appear, use a clean, sharp blade every time you shave or try using an electric razor. Keep the shaved area as clean as possible by washing regularly or swiping the skin with an antibacterial toner, and avoid hot tubs, where high levels of bacteria are present. If these measures don't help, consider using an alternative method of hair removal in the areas you usually get bumps.
While folliculitis usually clears on its own, occasionally it may not respond to treatment or the infection may spread to other parts of your body. Notify your doctor if the bumps don't show improvement after two to three days of self care or if you develop a fever or feel warmth or pain in the affected area.