You’ve got a big event, or trip coming up and you want your skin to look flawless.
Sound like you?
Everyone wants to look their best when it comes time to hit the beach, and in many cases, that means removing unsightly and unwanted hair.
For the ladies out there, this often involves trimming up those bikini lines to keep them clean.
And if you’re a dude – don’t be ashamed.
It’s okay to grab the trimmer before hitting the beach, either to show off your smooth beach bod or just make that beard immaculate before taking to the waves.
Unfortunately, with shaving and trimming comes the ever-present risk of razor bumps; unattractive and painful red bumps on the skin where hair has been shaved.
Getting rid of razor bumps is a concern for beach-goers everywhere, because not only do they hurt, they provide the complete opposite of what we were shooting for in the first place: beautiful smooth skin!
Let’s take a look at what exactly razor bumps are, then fill you in on how to treat, remove and prevent them.
So, What Are Razor Bumps Anyway?
Razor bumps, also known by their medical name pseudofolliculitis barbae, are similar to ingrown hairs. They are caused by hair follicles curling or turning back on themselves and growing into the skin.
The hair will continue to grow and expand in the skin, and often the skin will regrow over pore where the hair is supposed to grow out of.
Swelling and redness follow.
As you might imagine and can probably attest to yourself..
It’s not too fun.
What could be worse?
Razor bumps itch like crazy and can cause burning sensations. And even worse, if the bumps do develop into full-blown ingrown hairs, you can have much more serious problems on your hands (or face, or bikini area, you get the idea).
If left untreated, ingrown hairs can become a severe health problem. Once the hairs close in on themselves and get swollen, they can fill up with pus and change into pustules which are like blisters.
Then they can pop, which of course is not ideal, and afterward become infected. There’s nothing quite like a skin infection to harsh your beach buzz. Plus, if these bumps pop or are burst by scratching, you can get permanent scars or hyper-pigmentation, which is darkening of the affected skin area.
Why Do Razor Bumps Happen?
When your hair grows back in on itself and pierces the skin, your body treats it like anything else that penetrates it. To your body, the hair is just another invader, so it sends blood and white blood cells to deal with the potentially infectious foreign substance.
This is where all of the swelling and pus comes from.
As far as risk factors, just about everyone with hair is at risk of developing razor bumps. However, some people are more prone than others.
People with coarse and curly hair are at high risk of the hair curling back in on itself. That is why razor bumps are so prevalent in the bikini area; pubic hair is the right combination of coarse and curly in most cases to be prime candidates for those annoying red bumps.
Also, frequent shaving alone is enough to increase your likelihood of suffering. More shaving equals more risk.
Are Razor Bumps Different From Razor Burn?
Short answer: yes. But, they are closely related. Razor burn is characterized by redness and irritation of the skin after shaving. It is caused by excess dryness as well as the shearing of the too much skin along with the hair.
Razor burn can also be the result of harsh reactions to chemicals.
Most of the time, razor burn is caused by dull razors or shaving without properly lubricating the skin. The razor comes into too much contact with the skin, and the redness follows. However, sometimes hard soaps can be the culprit of causing razor burn, as well as plain old sensitive skin.
If you get razor burn frequently, you could be in for some nasty advanced symptoms like bleeding, scabbing and, that’s right, razor bumps.
Shaves that are too frequent or too close weaken and inflame the skin (like a bad sunburn), making it much more likely for hairs to grow back in on themselves and develop into ingrown hairs. We’ll talk about getting rid of razor burn at the same time we talk about remedies for razor bumps because thankfully, they are often the same.
How Long Do Razor Bumps Last?
Razor bumps last for around a week, but only if they are not further irritated. That is caused by you scratching, rubbing or picking at them.
So avoid that of course. In your haste to soothe or remove razor bumps, you will likely end up prolonging your suffering.
Now a week isn’t all that bad, all you have to do is not shave and not scratch or irritate the bumps.
Well, it isn’t always that simple.
What if it’s only Wednesday and your weekend beach date is just a couple short days away? In that case, it’s time to get rid of razor bumps fast. But first, we have to treat them immediately.
How to Treat Razor Bumps
As soon as you feel that irritation on your shaved area, razor burn, and razor bumps might be headed your way. It is crucial that you take action soon to reduce the number, size, severity and duration of those pesky bumps. Here are a few things you can do right away:
How To Get Rid of Razor Bumps Once You Have Them
So despite your best efforts to stop razor bumps in their tracks, the cropped up and are now ruining your bikini line or jawline.
There are methods of taking these little annoyances out without having to wait it out for a week. But first, let’s go over what you definitely should not do.
It’s important that above all else, you don’t exacerbate the problem as that could lead to longer recovery times or more health complications.
What Not to Do When You Get Razor Bumps
First, let’s reiterate the obvious…
Do not pick, scratch, rub or rub areas of skin that are affected by razor burn or bumps.
Doing so can make the irritation worse, resulting in more ingrown hair and pustules. You also might burst the pustules open with your scratching causing that scarring and hyper-pigmentation we talked about earlier. You don’t want to be left permanently disfigured because you couldn’t resist scratching some bikini bumps.
Talk about having scars without a cool story.
Preventing the bursting of these bumps goes beyond just not scratching, though. Don’t think that lancing the bumps with needles or picking at them with tweezers or nail clippers is any safer. There is no way to do this safely, and you still may end up with scars or dark spots on your skin.
Additionally, using dirty tools implements to break your skin can cause severe infections. A skin infection will make the pain and swelling worse and may even land you in the hospital!
Also, it should go without saying but let’s say it anyway, don’t continue to shave after developing razor bumps! It will increase the number of your bumps and the severity of existing ones.
Not to mention, the blades of a shaver or trimmer can rupture those bumps, causing the problems discussed above. Additionally, as you may have guessed, your razor and trimmer are not the cleanest of tools and are more likely to carry bacteria on them that I’ll get into an open wound like a burst bump.
Eliminating Razor Bumps With Health and Beauty Products
Ok, now with the bad stuff out of the way, let’s check out some over the counter products that can help you with those bumps. There are a lot of affordable creams and ointments you can get at your local drugstore, just be careful when deciding on one. Check the ingredients of each product to make sure you aren’t allergic or will have a reaction to them. If you aren’t sure and are worried that they might adversely affect your skin, give them a little test run. You don’t want to have a bad reaction on top of the already compromised skin.
Natural Remedies For Getting Rid of Razor Bumps
So maybe you’re the type that likes to go all natural with your remedies, or perhaps you just have a lot of organic stuff lying around, and you don’t want to go all the way to the drugstore and drop some cash on expensive meds. Either way, go you! Fortunately, there are several natural compounds that are known to remove both razor burn and razor bumps.
Keep in mind, however, that the effectiveness of these treatments may vary from person to person, so keep experimenting and don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
Remember, everyone’s skin is different, so try things out and experiment a bit to find out which one works best for you. If your symptoms get worse after using one of these remedies or you have a reaction on your skin, stop using it immediately and see a doctor. Also, if your razor bumps fail to get any better after three days with self-treatment, it may be a good idea to see a dermatologist.
How to Prevent Razor Bumps
The best way to get rid of razor bumps is not to get them in the first place. Preventing razor bumps and razor burn is surprisingly easy, but you have to remember to do it, be diligently practice proper shaving technique every time you go under the razor. Here are a few habits you should take up to make sure your bouts with irritation and ingrown hairs are few and far between.
Poor quality or worn out razors are some of the leading causes of razor burn and subsequently razor bumps. In a misguided attempt to save some money, we sometimes keep razors past their lifespan or skimp on quality. If you’re looking to impress at the beach or just feel good about your body without itching, it’s time to take shaving seriously and get the right tool for the job. It’s time to get a new razor if:
- It starts to catch in your hairs
- There are noticeable rust, nicks or other deformities
- It is older than five weeks (if you use it often)
- It takes several passes to get all the hair in a given area
If you must use a razor, make sure it’s nice and sharp. Granted there are a lot of expensive blades out there, but there are affordable ones too. If you can’t find one in your budget, it may be time to switch hair removal methods, which we will talk about a bit later.
How you shave is just as important as what you shave with. There are a surprising number of dos and don’ts when it comes to shaving and preventing razor bumps. You could be putting yourself at risk just by being sloppy or clumsy. Check out this list of habits you should make and ones to break.
Alternative Hair Removal
In the long run, if you are still experiencing pretty bad razor bumps, it may be time to find a new way to remove that pesky hair. There are a lot of options out there these days, but it’s important to realize the risks involved when it comes to preventing bumps and burns. Some options to consider include:
Get Out There and Get Bare
You shouldn’t have to sit under a blanket all day or keep your shirt on just because your skin isn’t being cooperative.
Take the extra time to remove your hair the safe and responsible way, and practice good habits to keep your skin from turning the dreaded red and bumpy. That way you won’t waste a minute of fun in the sun, or just outside in general.
When you do get razor bumps, and you probably will at some point because we all do, go in with a positive mindset. There are a lot of remedies out there for you, and even though some may not be effective for you, you should keep trying until you get it right. Just make sure you aren’t sacrificing your health in an attempt at your moment of bronze glory. Take it easy on the harsher razor bump treatments, and see a doctor if you don’t get better or have any adverse or unforeseen reaction to any remedies you try.