Written by Lisa Allen | Edited by Dr Mark Kapnoudhis
If you suffer from acne then you may have noticed at one point or another that sometimes shaving can cause pimples. These shaving bumps or pimples are known as Pseudofolliculitis barbae and are the result of inflammation in the hair follicles caused by the way you shave.
How does shaving form acne?
When you shave hair begins to grow back afterwards. When this happens, many times these hairs get trapped inside the follicle and this leads to swelling and irritation. Shaving acne can affect anyone but is more likely to occur in individuals who have curly hair.
If you are suffering from acne breakouts caused from shaving there are a few tips that you can try to help stop acne from occurring. They are as follows.
1. Before shaving rinse with warm water – Before you begin shaving it is always best to rinse the area with warm water. The heat from the water will dilate your blood vessels and bring more blood to the area that you are about to shave. This is another reason why it is never a good idea to shave dry. Shaving skin dry can cause further irritation and outbreaks.
2. Apply shaving cream – When shaving always apply shaving cream. Shaving cream will help your razor glide easily over the skin, thus reducing irritation and formation of acne. It will also help reduce the chance of cutting yourself with the razor.
3. Change blades frequently – If you are one of those people who prefers not to use an electric razor and you must use a blade, make sure that you use a new single blade each time you shave. Double and triple blade razors actually lift the hair out of the follicle because it shaves below the epidermis. When the skin begins to heal the epidermis starts to grow over the follicles. As the hair begins to grow it is a struggle for it to break through and get out of the blocked follicle which causes irritation and acne to occur. Changing blades often can also keep you from reinfecting your skin with bacteria.
4. Always shave downward – When shaving you want to make sure that you shave in downward strokes. You are more likely to get acne from shaving when you shave upwards and closer to the skin. This is why it is so important that you go with the grain and shave downward. Never shave against the grain or shave the same area twice. Shaving skin in the proper way, in a downward direction will help nicks and cuts from occurring which can later become clogged and cause acne to occur.
5. Apply toner or antibacterial gel after shaving – Whenever you are done shaving always apply a mild alcohol free toner or antibacterial gel to the surface to help kill bacteria before it has a chance to reach your pores. This also helps acne from forming on the skin. Applying acne topical medications such as salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide has also been found effective after shaving as it works to kill the bacteria that can cause adult shaving acne.
6. Switch to an electric razor – Instead of using double and triple blade razors or disposable razors, why not use an electric razor? An electric razor doesn’t cut down through the surface like those other razors do. You may not get as clean of a shave with an electric razor as you will with using a blade, but chances are you will also lessen your chances of suffering from adult shaving acne. Just something to consider.
7. Don’t shave everyday – If you are one of the many people who suffer from acne bumps caused by shaving then do you and your skin a favor and do not shave everyday. Instead give your skin about 2-3 days in between to rest and heal properly.
8. Keep your razor sterile with alcohol – If you are using the same razor blade more than once then before and after each shave make sure you are wiping it done thoroughly with some kind of antibacterial or rubbing alcohol to prevent bacteria growth and lessen your chances of getting razor bumps.
9. Never pick or squeeze the bumps – If you suffer from acne caused from shaving or have tried the previous tips and find that you are still breaking out whatever you do never pick, squeeze or pop the bumps. This is probably one of the worst things you could do. Picking, squeezing or popping the bumps can cause irritation and spread bacteria to other areas of the skin causing acne to worsen or spread. Instead of picking at the acne, try applying a antiseptic or antimicrobial treatment to help numb the area and make it feel more comfortable, and prevent infection.
10. Try alternative methods of hair removal – If you have tried everything and nothing seems to be working to keep your acne at bay, then you may just need to stop using razors altogether. There are plenty of other hair removal options in existence. Just a few are the depilatories that work by dissolving or dislodging hairs, these are products such as Nair.
Another option is a prescription medicine that just came out that can be used by both men and women. It goes by the name of Vaniqa. Talk to your dermatologist or physician today to see if either of these would be an option for you. Another thing that can be helpful is the use of hydrocortisone cream applied on the skin to help reduce swelling and inflammation.