"Razor bumps" is another name for an inflammatory condition known as pseudofolliculitis barbae. It results from shorn hairs curling back upon themselves. As the hair curls back, it penetrates the skin, triggering an immune response by the body that causes the formation of small papules. Though almost anyone can develop this skin condition, pseudofolliculitis barbae is predominately seen in African-American men. When razor bumps do develop, removal often begins with fairly conservative techniques before turning to more invasive practices and procedures.
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The American Osteopathic College of Dermatology maintains that the most effective way to remove razor bumps is to let the hair grow. Any areas of the skin that suffer from pseudofolliculitis barbae can experience an improvement by simply ceasing to shave or shear the hair. Allowing the hair to grow to a length that it can no longer curl back into the skin usually removes the razor bumps. MedlinePlus suggests that moist, hot compresses will help drain the follicles while they are healing.
If you're unable to allow the hair to grow, you may need to change the way in which you shave. For some people, simply changing from a razor blade to an electric razor can improve razor bumps, suggests AOCD. This is largely due to the fact that an electric razor doesn't provide as tight a shave as a razor blade. You may also help to reduce razor bumps from the skin by prepping the hair before shaving. This would include softening the hairs with a warm, wet washcloth, applying a shaving gel prior to shaving and always running the razor in the direction of the hair growth. As soon as you've finished shaving, apply an aftershave cream that contains a moisturizer.
Depilatories are a method of chemically removing the hair from the skin. A cream is applied to the area of unwanted hair, dissolving the hair shafts. However, the chemicals used in these types of products may cause other skin irritations and can lead to a chemical burn, especially in those with sensitive skin. Never apply a depilatory to any area of the skin currently suffering from razor bumps, as it may exacerbate the condition. Only try a depilatory cream once skin is free of razor bumps, and only use every two or three days, recommends AOCD.
If basic skin care doesn't show improvement within two to three, consult a dermatologist, recommends the Canadian Dermatology Association. Chronic razor bumps may need to be treated with prescription medications. Antibiotics reduce inflammation and clear up any infections affecting the swollen follicles. You can also see an improvement in your complexion by using tretinoin creams.
People suffering from chronic razor bumps may also benefit from more complete hair removal. This is typically the final solution for treating pseudofolliculitis barbae. It typically entails either laser hair removal or electrolysis. Laser hair removal uses pulses of intense light to damage the follicle, causing it to go dormant. Electrolysis administers electricity directly into the follicle through a small needle. This is the only form of permanent hair removal.