In the quest to remove body hair, people have tried razors, creams, lasers and a host of other methods designed to leave skin smooth and hair-free. Removing the hair at the surface, as with a razor, can be effective, but the results don't last long. Removing the hair beneath the surface of the skin, as with an epilator, lasts longer, but can also increase the chance of developing red, itchy bumps known as razor bumps or shaving bumps.
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An epilator uses a metal coil to grab the hair and pull it out by the roots. The process can be quite effective but also painful. To help ease pain, a numbing lotion or spray can be used. Hair should be at least 1/8 inch long in order for the epilotor to have something to grab.
Shaving bumps may be due to irritation or to ingrown hairs. Immediately after using an epilator, skin may redden as a response to having the hair ripped out. These bumps should resolve within a few hours or overnight. Shaving bumps that appear the next day or later may be a type of folliculitis that results from ingrown hairs. As hair grows it may curl back on itself and grow back into the skin. The skin reacts to this irritation by attacking the hairs as if they were foreign bodies. In some cases, these bumps may even become infected, causing even more irritation.
If you develop shaving bumps, keep the area clean to prevent infection. Use a mild antibacterial soap. You can also apply an over-the-counter corticosteroid cream to help relieve the itching and discomfort. Let the hair grow for several weeks to allow the hairs to grow long enough to emerge from the skin on their own. If bumps are severe, see your doctor; you may need treatment with antibiotics to combat the infection.
Exfoliating the skin daily can help prevent the ingrown hairs that cause most shaving bumps. Use a loofah or an exfoliating scrub and rinse thoroughly. You might also try a different type of epilator to see if one type is less irritating to your skin than another.
If you continue to experience shaving bumps with an epilator, you may need to switch to a different method of hair removal. Try shaving or depilatory creams. A series of laser treatments could result in permanent hair removal and no more shaving bumps.