A razor bump, known in scientific terms as pseudofolliculitis barbae, is a minor irritation of the skin that appears after shaving. It is also known as a razor burn and there can be several possible causes. Usually, the cause of razor bumps is shaving done too many times or with excessive force. It normally doesn't last more than a few days maximum and looks like an irritated area of red bumps, which tend to itch. In most cases, no special treatment is necessary and the condition will go away with usual skin maintenance creams or lotions. Ingrown hairs are a possible complication, these can cause pain, inflammation or even serious infections.
The razor bumps are small bumps on the skin that are caused by inside growing hairs. As a reaction to shaving, a part of the hair changes its direction of growth and starts growing in the skin. In mild cases, this only leads to irritation and bumps but it can also cause serious infections or scars.
In most cases, the condition starts as a red rash on the skin. It is also possible to see minor red bumps developing at the base of hair follicles. The bumps are inflamed and might itch severely. No area of the skin is immune from razor bumps, they can appear anywhere. However, the sensitive areas like the throat, underarms or around the bikini are the most vulnerable.
Skin sensitivity is the major cause for razor bumps but there are several other possible triggers. It is usually caused by improper shaving, when you move the razor too fast or apply too much pressure on the skin. Excessive force irritates the skin and the trademark rash appears. The art of shaving is to cut the hair as close to the skin surface as possible but this is not easy to accomplish without cutting the superficial layer of skin as well.
Too much force will make the razor shave a layer of skin cells along with the hair. Since the wound is superficial, this rarely causes visible bleeding but will start an irritation. This is a common problem for youngsters, whose skin is not yet used to shaving. It can also happen when you shave an area of the body for the first time or if the razor is worn out. In general, shaving will be smooth if the razor is sharp.
Another very important aspect is lubricating the shaved area well. Today, special lotions or gels are used for this purpose but soap works as well. Dedicated products are better because of their special formula, which can have several effects. While keeping the skin and hair lubricated, these also serve as protection between the skin and the sharp razor. It is also a good idea to wash the skin with warm water before shaving. At normal temperature or if cold water is used, the skin contracts and is more vulnerable to wounds. However, warm water relaxes the skin and opens its pores. The increased elasticity decreases resistance to friction and leads to a more effective shaving.
The cause of razor bumps is the effect of shaving on the skin. When a hair is severed right at the point where it emerges from the skin, it can become curly and grow inwards. The result is similar to a pimple, because the irritated follicle becomes swollen and looks like a small red bump.
It is not a serious condition and it can usually be avoided by shaving properly, which decreases the number of bumps to a minimum. Start by washing the area with hot water, in order to open the pores and relax the skin. Apply a generous amount of quality shaving cream, which protects the skin and keeps it hydrated. Use a quality brand of razors and always change them when they are not sharp anymore. It is also a good idea to shave only in the direction of the hair growth, in order to avoid irritation. At the end, wash the face again with cold water or a damp cloth, in order to close the pores up and protect them from infection.
If you do get razor bumps after all, the easiest solution is to avoid shaving for a few days. This will allow the skin to recover and the bumps will heal. Shaving an area with razor bumps is difficult and painful. If the bumps are not allowed to heal fast enough and keep being damaged by shaving, the result can be permanent scars.
Razor bumps are classified in two types by scientists: extrafollicular bumps and transfollicular ones. Extrafollicular razor bumps grow inside the skin from the start, without emerging at all. In the second type, the hair exits the skin briefly before curling and growing inside it. A small part of the hair is exposed, so it is possible to gently use a pair of tweezers to remove its end from the skin and allow it to grow properly. Do not take the entire hair out, this will not solve the problem and might cause deeper and more resilient ingrown hairs to appear.
Men have a much greater risk to develop razor bumps than women do, mainly because they shave very often, sometimes daily. Another reason is that men shave their face, where the skin is extremely sensitive.
Race is also a factor, because of the differences in hair type. Statistical data reveals that only one in five Caucasian males have problems with razor bumps, while between 60 and 80 percent of black males develop them. Black men have curly hair on the face, which greatly increases the chance for it to twist and grow inwards. Also, black skin is more vulnerable than white one to keloid scars. These scars appear faster if the bumps are not healed. For these reasons, black males must be very careful when shaving.
In most cases, no treatment is needed for razor bumps and doctors usually advise to simply protect the affected area from more irritation and allow it to heal naturally. There are a number of lotions and creams that can be used to relieve itching and calm down the skin. Elma 01 Skin Ointment is a great choice because it increases the rate of healing.