How To Treat And Prevent Razor Burn

By:    Published: December 5, 2011

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If your skin has ever felt irritated and looked red and bumpy after shaving, then you’ve probably had razor burn. It’s an uncomfortable feeling and can look unsightly, especially if it’s on an area that’s highly visible. Fortunately, razor burn is both treatable and avoidable. So if you constantly suffer from razor burn, read this handy guide to learn to get rid of this condition once and for all.

What Is Razor Burn?

Razor burn is not an actual burn, but an irritation of the skin. The affected area will look red and may even swell. It’s common for razor bumps, also known as pseudofolliculitis barbae, to appear in the area. Razor bumps are tiny, red bumps that sometimes itch and feel tender to the touch. Razor bumps and razor burn are temporary and can heal on their own in a few days.

What Causes Razor Burn?

The underlying cause of razor burn is shaving incorrectly. The improper shaving techniques that are to blame are:

  • Shaving without water, shaving cream or gel
  • Shaving with a dull razor
  • Shaving too fast
  • Shaving with too much pressure
  • Shaving in the opposite direction in which the hair grows
  • Passing over the same area too many times

How To Prevent Razor Burn

The best way to prevent razor burn is to use the proper shaving technique. These are the steps to follow for a proper shave, as outlined by the Mayo Clinic:

  • Press a warm, damp washcloth over the area you want to shave. This will soften the hair so you won’t end up with sharp stubble that could easily turn into ingrown hair.
  • Apply a shaving cream or gel to the area to keep it moisturized.
  • Use a sharp razor, preferably one that’s new or clean.
  • Shave in the direction in which the hair grows and use a light stroke. You may want to rinse the blade after every few strokes or at least after every use to prevent hair from building up in the blades.
  • When you’re done, rinse your skin with warm water.

In some cases, an improper shaving technique may not be to blame. Some people just have sensitive skin that is easily irritated. If that’s the case, try following these tips to avoid razor burn and other skin irritation:

  • If you have sensitive skin, don’t use any products like aftershave or any products that contain fragrances after shaving.
  • Make sure that you aren’t shaving more often that you need to. If you shave without letting enough time pass for the hair to grow back, you can irritate the skin and cause ingrown hairs to develop. You want to shave when there’s at least one-tenth of an inch of hair growth, so if you see less than that, refrain from shaving for another day or two.
  • If your problem with razor burn is persistent, you may want to consider using other hair removal methods such as waxing or depilatories.
  • Always moisturize before and after shaving, and exfoliate your skin often.
  • If you have a skin condition, such as eczema or sunburn, shaving can exacerbate this condition. In this case, use a prescription cream or lotion before shaving.
  • If you think the culprit of your razor burn is the blade of your razor, try using an electric razor instead. The blades are softer and safer than those in a regular razor.

How To Treat Razor Burn

If you aren’t lucky enough to avoid getting razor burn, here are some tips to help you treat the affected area:

  • Rub witch hazel over the area to help it heal, then place hydrocortisone cream over the area to reduce the irritation. Do this once a day and should see the burn go away in a few days.
  • Stop shaving. It may sound obvious, but shaving over skin that’s already really irritated can make it even more irritated. Once your razor burn has gone away, you can start shaving again.
  • Try an herbal remedy to soothe your skin. Rinse the affected area with cool green tea or put a cold compress of wet spearmint or comfrey leaves on the area. Aloe vera and eucalyptus can also be very soothing. If you have a fresh aloe plant, break off a leaf and rub the juice on your skin. Or, find a cream that contains eucalyptus.

When To Seek Medical Attention

If you razor burn is persistent and doesn’t go away after trying a few different remedies, you should seek medical attention to make sure there isn’t a bigger underlying problem. For instance, diabetes and other chronic illnesses can be the cause for reoccurring cases of folliculitis.

The chances of razor burn becoming a serious problem are small, though, so don’t fret if you see a few bumps or some redness on your skin once in a while. Razor burn is a common problem, but one that’s easily avoided with the right shaving techniques.

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