Pseudofolliculitis Barbae, or razor bumps, is a fairly common condition that primarily affects African American men, though it can also occur among men of other racial backgrounds who have exceptionally curly hair. There is also a variation of the condition that can affect both men and women in the pubic region when that region is shaved.
The condition presents as a series of small, flesh colored bumps in the beard area. In some severe cases, there may also be some scarring and discoloration and the formation of keloids. Abscesses may also occur when a secondary infection is involved. These complications generally occur only if the initial condition has been improperly treated or becomes chronic.
What causes razor bumps to appear?
Blade shaving sharpens the ends of the hairs like a spear. The hairs then curve back into the skin causing pseudofolliculitis barbae. Because of the tightly curled nature of their hair, African American males are predisposed to this condition.
It becomes particularly problematic when a close shave is desired. African American members of the military have an especially difficult time with this condition as a close shave is required under military rules.
What’s the most effective razor bump treatment?
A 100% effective treatment is to let the beard grow. Once the hairs get to be a certain length they will not grow back into the skin.
Washing the beard area with Lever 2000 soap using a Buf-Puf also helps to raise the hairs and prevent them from growing back into the skin. This should be done twice a day. Buf-Pufs are available without a prescription at your local drug store or online.
If you must shave, use an electric shaver, as it does not cut as close as double or triple edged blades do. Some doctors recommend chemical shaving with products such as Nair or Neet to improve pseudofolliculitis barbae. Shaving every other day, rather than daily, will improve the condition as it reduces irritation of the skin.
Before shaving wash the face with a mild cleanser such as Cetaphil Lotion, then rinse. Massage the beard area gently in a circular motion with a warm, moist, soft washcloth to soften hairs and free up the hair tips.
Lather the beard area with a non-irritating shaving gel such as Aveeno Therapeutic Shave Gel instead of cream and shave in the direction of beard growth without pulling the skin taut, using an Aveeno PFB Bump Fighter Razor. Both of these products should be available online.
After shaving is finished, rinse thoroughly with warm water and apply a mild moisturizing aftershave lotion such as Cetaphil Lotion. Other treatments include the use of Retin-A or a topical antibiotic solution prescribed by your doctor, topical combination creams like Triluma, and mild topical corticosteroid creams.
In severe cases where abscesses develop, an oral antibiotic may be necessary. In recent years, the use of laser therapy to treat razor bumps has been considered. It has had some success but may also cause discoloration of the treated skin. Further studies are being conducted into this treatment method.