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Razor Bumps: What You Should Know and How to Prevent Them

Man shaving his face
If you have razor bumps, then you may be unsure how to handle this persistent cosmetic problem. Razor bumps are relatively harmless from a medical perspective, but they can cause a lot of embarrassment and anxiety among those affected.
Fortunately, there are effective ways to keep razor bumps from developing and new medical procedures that can eliminate them altogether. Below is more information on this skin condition, as well as what you should know about preventing razor bumps.

What Are Razor Bumps?

Razor bumps are unsightly raised skin nodules that develop in response to hair being cut too short. While razor bumps can happen to anyone, they are most prevalent among individuals who have tight hair curls.
One of the main causes of razor bumps has to do with the hair follicles. The hair follicles of curly haired individuals have their own curvature which causes the hair to grow out an angle.
When a curly hair is cut too close to the skin by a razor, the hair forms a sharp "edge" on the end of it, which can only be seen from a microscopic perspective. This edge gives the end of the hair an appearance similar to a stake. This edge allows the hair to easily penetrate the skin or even its own follicle as it curls back around while it grows. This penetration can create an ingrown hair or a razor bump.
The telltale symptom of razor bumps is the appearance of nodules that can be itchy or cause burning, especially if they become infected. These bumps are unattractive and can be frustrating to those affected.

What Can Be Done to Prevent Razor Bumps?

The easiest way to keep razor bumps from occurring is to eliminate shaving altogether, allowing the hair to grow out naturally. When hair is grown out razor bumps will go away on their own within a short period of time.
Of course, staying clean shaven is often a requirement for many men due to a job or personal reasons. In addition, many women are not willing or able to stop shaving other areas of their bodies. With that perspective in mind, there are still several things that individuals can do to minimize razor bump occurrence and damage to their skin. Below are a couple of helpful approaches.
Prepare Your Skin in Advance
Many men and women take little time to prepare their skin for shaving, and this habit can worsen the onslaught of razor bumps. That is why preparing the skin in advance can be helpful in keeping razor bumps from appearing.
Begin by wetting a clean washcloth in hot water, then wring it out and unfold it. Next, place the washcloth on your face for a couple of minutes to permit the warmth and moisture to loosen hair follicles and free ingrown hairs. This will make shaving a less traumatic experience for your skin.
Modify Shaving Methods and Techniques
Another way you can prevent razor bumps from developing is to modify your methods of shaving. Conventional safety razors often cut too close, which sets up curly hair to penetrate the skin. Instead, purchase razors designed to alleviate razor bumps. These razors use a special protective blade that won't cut hair too close.
An additional modification that can help prevent razor bumps is exchanging bladed razors for electric razors. Small, rechargeable razors can quickly and effectively trim hair, but leave a small amount of hair remaining to prevent ingrowing.
If you struggle with eliminating razor bumps or if the small bumps become infected, be sure to contact John M. Humeniuk, M.D. for assistance. Dr. Humeniuk and his staff are able to help keep razor bumps from dragging down your self-esteem, and they even have exciting laser treatment options that may eliminate razor bumps forever.

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