Razor bumps are different than razor burn, although both result from shaving. These small, itchy bumps are often red and swollen, resulting from ingrown hairs that get trapped after shaving. Anyone who shaves is susceptible to razor bumps, although individuals with sensitive skin and curly hair are more likely to experience the condition. The good news is there are many ways to treat and prevent razor bumps. With a little bit of care, once a current case of razor bumps is gone, there is no reason for them to return. Read about the best methods of treating and preventing razor bumps now.
Throw Out Dull Razors
The biggest offender of razor bumps is a dull razor. Although it is almost invisible to the eye, a used blade has dull spots and jagged edges that are more likely to irritate the skin and shave unevenly. Thus, individuals should throw out dull razors immediately. Even better, when using cheaper disposable razors, individuals should consider using a fresh razor for each shave. Otherwise, a high-quality razor and changeable blades are the keys. While it might seem like razors and their blades are all the same, some are going to be better than others. Individuals should examine their choices at a local pharmacy and evaluate the different features, including the number of blades, blades designed for sensitive skin, and the presence of moisture strips. Sometimes more blades are necessary, and sometimes they are not, which is often the case with most features. Thus, the appropriate razor may be different for different users.
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Use Shaving Cream Or Gel
Dry shaving is horrible for the skin. Razors are sharp, but without lubrication, a shave will be jagged and unpleasant at best. With this in mind, individuals should always make sure they use shaving cream or gel when they shave. Those with sensitive skin should try to choose natural products or ones enhanced with vitamins and aloe. Lubrication will ensure individuals get the smoothest pass with a razor, providing minimal irritation to the hair follicles. It is important for individuals to wet the area they want to shave with some warm to hot water to open their pores before applying the shaving cream or gel. This will also help prevent razor bumps from forming in the first place.
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Apply A Hot Compress
If an individual is unable to prevent razor bumps, a hot compress can be applied to alleviate the discomfort, itching, and redness of the bumps. Of course, patients need to keep in mind they should use hot water to wet the skin before shaving and then rinse with cold water or a cold compress after to close the pores back up. This is another preventative tip for razor bumps and burn. If, however, bumps have already presented themselves, a hot compress will provide relief when applied for ten to fifteen minutes at a time. However, patients shouldn't do this too often, and if it appears to be making the issue worse, they can try cold water and see if it offers better relief.
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Apply Some Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is a common source of relief from itching and irritation. Whether from a plant in the home or a gel or lotion purchased at the store, aloe can help alleviate the itching and inflammation that comes with razor burn and bumps. Apply some aloe vera to the affected area a few times a day. Individuals who notice ongoing issues with bumps should consider using shaving cream or a moisturizing product that includes aloe as part of their shaving regimen to help prevent them in the first place. Aloe is also great for a myriad of other uses, so having it on hand is never a bad idea. It can alleviate burns, relieve itching from bug bites, and help with other skin irritations as well.
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Avoid Shaving For A Little Bit
Perhaps the best thing individuals can do if their skin is prone to razor bumps is to avoid shaving entirely for a little while. It can be difficult for some individuals, but so long as it isn't required (such as for a job that does not allow facial hair), individuals should skip shaving to give their skin a rest. Shaving daily exposes the follicles to constant irritation and doesn't give them a chance to heal. The less often individuals shave, the less likely they are to develop razor bumps or razor burn. It can be unnerving, especially for women, to think about going without shaving, but when razor bumps are a recurring issue, the fact remains they need to take a break.
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Exfoliate The Skin
A warm shower softens the skin and hair, which preps the skin for shaving and helps prevent razor bumps. The next pre-shave step is to exfoliate the skin. Exfoliating removes dead skin cells and oils that clog pores and cause ingrown hairs. However, the exfoliant should not be harsh, as shaving potentially causes micro-tears in the skin, and harsh scrubs can further aggravate them. Chemical exfoliators, those containing acids such as alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) and beta-hydroxy acid (BHA), remove dead skin cells by promoting cellular turnover. These exfoliants penetrate deeper into the skin than regular scrubs and produce anticipated results with fewer complications. Exfoliating produces smoother skin, warranting a smoother shave and less irritation.
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Avoid Products Containing Alcohol
Soft skin is important for a smooth shave, so it is important to avoid products containing alcohol when shaving. Products listing SD alcohol, denatured alcohol, or isopropyl alcohol as the main ingredient are harsh on the skin and can cause irritation. Additionally, alcohol may corrode the skin, cause dryness, and damage the skin's rejuvenating processes. Oily skin is especially prone to damage from products containing alcohol, as the alcohol can cause enlarged pores, skin bumps, and even more oil. However, dry skin can benefit substantially from fatty alcohols, such as cetyl, stearyl, and cetearyl alcohol. These alcohols are non-irritating and improve the texture of the skin.
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Try Using Salicylic Acid
Razor bumps and burn may occur regardless of the attempts to prevent them, so if they continue to occur, try using salicylic acid. Razor bumps develop when shaved hair grows but becomes trapped underneath the skin. This inflammatory response causes irritated, raised bumps around each afflicted hair follicle. Salicylic acid helps diminish the chances of hair becoming trapped underneath the skin, thereby reducing the chances of skin irritation and the resulting bumps. Salicylic acid also helps free ingrown hairs and, when combined with other soothing ingredients, heal and calm the skin. After shaving, applying moisturizer or deodorant does not increase the risk of developing razor bumps or burns. However, if these products contain any skin irritants, they can further aggravate the symptoms of razor bumps and burn.
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Try Products With Bacitracin Or Lidocaine
Try products with bacitracin or lidocaine to treat razor bumps or burn. Bacitracin eliminates bacteria, while lidocaine prevents itching and irritation caused by shaving. These products also help prevent infections and heal the skin damaged by razor bumps and burns. Bacitracin is especially useful in treating the pain and irritation associated with razor burn. Applying bacitracin or lidocaine is a preventative method against razor bumps and burns. Products containing bacitracin or lidocaine also decrease the risk of scars developing in afflicted areas. If the skin is not broken, then skin protectants or antibiotics promote wound healing. If the skin is broken, protectants or antibiotics help prevent infections from developing. In the case of a minor infection, products with bacitracin also help minimize the chances of the infection spreading.
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Shave With The Grain
To prevent razor bumps, be sure to shave with the grain. Always use sharp, clean blades, as well as a shaving gel to prevent irritation and infection. Shaving in the direction of hair growth safeguards against hair follicles from becoming inflamed. Although shaving against the grain produces a closer shave, it also increases the risk of developing uncomfortable ingrown hairs, especially for those with curly hair. Rubbing a hand over the areas that need shaving is the easiest way to identify the natural direction of hair growth. The direction with the least hair resistance is the natural direction. Hair growth patterns on the body can vary, so identifying the direction of growth before shaving minimizes the chances of developing razor bumps and burns.