Razor bumps (pseudofolliculitis barbae) are due to chronic inflammation . They are typically seen in the beard area of men who shave. They are found most often in men of African descent with darkly pigmented skin and curly hair. They can also be seen in the areas where women with curly hair shave.
Sufferers often notice itching and burning usually 24 to 48 hours after shaving. Small skin coloured or darker coloured bumps are seen mostly on the lower face, under the chin and on the front of the neck.
Dealing with razor bumps at an early stage is very important to prevent the condition getting worse and leading to problems such as disfiguring bumps, uneven skin texture, pigmentation problems or keloid scarring.
Men pre disposed to razor bumps do better by avoiding close shaves or growing a beard.
If shaving use a sharp razor. Avoid multi-blade razors, ideally using electric clippers or hair removal creams which can be used on the face.
Pre- wash with an antimicrobial wash.
Moisten area with warm water or a warm wet towel.
Use a moisturising shaving gel when shaving (avoid shaving with a drying soap) shaving along the direction of the hair growth.
Avoid pulling or stretching the skin.
Apply a soothing aftershave.
Some doctors use steroid creams after shaving and whenever there is itching or irritation. Some people may be experiencing a low grade infection, so topical antibiotics may be prescribed.
How the clinic can help: Home treatment programmes
Generally a combination of therapies is needed.
Following a skin care consultation which can initially be done virtually, the clinic will document and monitor the extent of the condition.
The clinic will discuss how Zo Skin Health or Obagi products can be used to reduce the colonization of bacteria that can aggravate inflammation and lead to secondary infection.
Topical retinoid creams (which can be prescribed at the clinic) can be used on a nightly basis to help with the hard areas of thickened skin (hyperkeratosis).
If areas of uneven pigmentation are present, the clinic can provide home care programmes for hyperpigmentation (e.g. Obagi Nu Derm or Zo Skin Health products).
To enhance results, home based chemical skin peels can be used. Alternatively clinic based peels can be done, the benefits of which can be seen below.
Because the skin is being treated as diseased skin, and to optimise results it is very important that sunscreen is used. This should be a physical rather than a chemical sunscreen
Home based chemical peel
If the Zo Skin Health Programme is chosen, after 4-6 weeks it is possible to have a home based peel (the retinol stimulation peel)- but the skin needs to be pre-conditioned with a retinol first.
The retinol stimulation peel is used for rough texture, uneven tone, dullness and fine lines.
The products are used at home over 3-5 days. If on a 3 day peel (rather than 5 days) there will be redness at days 3-6. This can be repeated 2-3 times per year
It is imperative that a physical sunscreen is regularly used after the procedure.
Clinic based treatments: Chemical peels
The Obagi Medical Blue Peel Radiance peel is an ideal adjunct for treating razor bumps.
It is a superficial chemical peel suitable for all skin types and contains a unique blend of Salicylic, Glycolic and Lactic acid to provide a gentle but effective peel, resulting in tighter, smoother, brighter looking skin immediately after just one use.
The salicylic acid (20%) is a great exfoliant. Additionally it has been proposed that glycolic acid may actually reduce sulfhydryl bonds in the hair shaft, resulting in straighter hair growth, and thereby reducing the chnace for hair shaft curl and growth into the epidermis.
This is a relatively quick peel to do in the clinic.
For best results 4-6 peels should be done, 2-4 weeks apart.
The Zo Medical 3 step peel is suitable for all skin types:
It is indicated for: Rough texture, acne, melasma, laxity, sun damage, large pores, dullness and wrinkles.
It is done in the clinic every 3-4 weeks until the desired results are achieved.
The recovery time is 5-7 days. It provides general exfoliation for a full range of benefits.
The skin needs to have undergone a period of 4-6 weeks preparation with a prescribed Zo programme for accelerated healing and enhanced results.
This can be done 1-3 times per year.
Retinoids must be stopped 3-4 days before the peel. AHA, BHA, BPO and retinols must be stopped 3-4 days before. Lasera electrolysis, waxing and depilatories should be avoided 5-7 days beforehand.
Clinic based treatment: electrolysis permanent hair removal
Razor bumps start as ingrowing hairs, and electrolysis can be used to permanently remove ingrowing hairs where there are areas of limited involvement. This is a better option for women who may be experiencing excess hair on the chin who are experiencing pseudofolliculitis barbae.