Preventing Barber’s Rash.
It’s the timeless battle in which every black man often experiences head-on. The vicious and often ferocious battle between the razor and ultimately those nuisance soldiers called razor bumps.
Which leads to the age-old question….
“WHY DO BLACK MEN SUFFER FROM RAZOR BUMPS (PSEUDOFOLLICULITIS BARBAE)…MORE”
Short answer – razor bumps are caused by shaving. Sometimes when a hair is cut off at the point where it exits the skin, it can curl back and start growing inwards. These ingrown hairs cause irritation to the hair follicle, which swells into a small red lump that looks a bit like a pimple. A razor bump forms when a hair that has been cut off close to the surface of the face turns around and begins growing back into the skin.
The main reason why black men get razor bumps more often than their white or Asian counterparts is because the type of curly hair is particularly likely to become ingrown. Black men often have coarse or curly hair, which may lead to razor bumps and ingrown hairs. “People with darker skin often are susceptible to inflammation, such as that caused by razor bumps; along with hyperpigmentation,” says Dr. Lawrence Jaeger, DO of Advanced Dermatology Associates in NYC and the Bronx.
Razor bumps form as new strands of hair curl back, puncture, and re-enter the skin while growing. Although not a serious health problem, these bumps are by no means pretty and can be a nuisance. They can fill up with puss, cause skin discoloration, or give rise to keloidal scars. The worst part is that razor bumps itch and cause quite a bit of discomfort. And when these pustules develop an infection from staph bacteria, they turn into a more serious skin disorder called Barber’s rash or folliculitis.
Also, darker skin is more prone to keloid scarring, which can develop if razor bumps are left untreated. Which is why it is especially important for black men to learn how to prevent and treat this common skin condition or seek dermatological treatment.
SHAVING TIPS – Black or Darker Skin People Should:
- Always use a sharp razor blade and discard old blades after 4-5 uses. You might think this is excessive, but dull blades force black men to go over the same area of skin again and again, increasing the chances of irritation and improperly cutting hair. This goes for electric razors, too: replace the blades after every few months of use.
- Reduce your number of shaves by shaving every other day. Giving the skin time to heal will allow hairs to grow straight through the skin’s surface, without forcing too-short hairs back into the skin. Frequent shaving too close to the skin will trap hairs inside the follicles.
- Exfoliate! Exfoliate! Exfoliating with a gentle scrub like Microfine Face Scrub removes the top layer of dead cells and allows hairs to grow out more easily. It also helps soften skin, clears pores and evens out patchy skin tones.
- Many African-American men benefit from using a single-blade razor, or a Deep Edge razor. Most dermatologists will encourage patients who suffer from razor bumps from using triple or quadruple blade razor systems. They exponentially increase the potential for razor bumps. The closer the shave, the worse the razor bumps will be.
- Always shave in the direction of hair growth. While shaving upward seems to give a closer shave, shaving in the hair’s direction reduces irritation and the likelihood of hairs growing back into the skin. Don’t pull skin taut when shaving since this can also cause ingrown hairs to form.
- Soften hairs before shaving by massaging warm water into the beard area and then applying a professional-grade, highly-lubricating shave cream. Allow it to sit on the face for a minute or two to completely coat hairs before shaving.
- Follow a shave with an after-shave solution that contains hydrating ingredients like aloe, witch hazel and tea tree extract like Post-Shave Repair to cut down on redness and discomfort. Stay away from products that contain alcohol since this can dry skin out and provoke an ashy appearance in black skin.
- Resist the urge to pluck ingrown hairs out. A new hair will just grow again, and you’ll be facing the same exact problem…even worse. It can become irritated.
- Most importantly, take your time when shaving. Stop that 30-second shave on Monday morning. Taking your time to shave slowly and with care can dramatically reduce nicks, cuts and abrasions that can aggravate razor bumps.
- Aloe Vera is your best friend because it acts as a moisturizer which will help speed up the healing process of the razor bumps. Aloe Vera also helps with the burning and soothing pain or discomfort.