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Razor Burn

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Photo: Wix

What exactly is razor burn?

The term “razor burn” generally applies to an irritation in the skin after shaving.

What causes razor burn?

Razor burn can result from a few different triggers.

  1. A razor that offers too “close” a shave can cut both hair and sometimes the surface of the skin as well. As the razor glides across the skin it may inadvertently shave keratin and the surface of the epidermis. This can lead to the skin feeling abraded and raw similar to a superficial burn.

  2. When someone has a tendency towards ingrown hairs. With a close shave that leaves the cut end of the hair under the surface of the skin, as the hairs grow out they may course under the surface of the skin creating bumps or swellings in the skin. Subsequent shaves may inadvertently scrape or shave the surface of these bumps.

  3. Dry skin can often have a flaky or scaly surface. Shaving over dry skin can erode the surface of the skin leaving behind razor burn.



With several different triggers for razor burn, what is the best remedy?

The remedy for managing razor burns is based on the actual cause or trigger.

  1. For razor burn that results from a very close shave, consideration given to changing the type of razor used may be helpful. Using cartridge razors or safety razors may be helpful.

  2. For razor burns as a result of ingrown hair, consider seeing your dermatologist about the trigger for your ingrown hairs. Many instances of ingrown hairs may be the result of bacteria on the skin that enters the freshly shaved exposed pore created by the recent shave. Once this bacteria enters, it can swell the follicle slightly resulting in the actively growing hair having difficulty exiting the pore and coursing under the surface of the skin seeking a point of exit. This may be managed with topical antibiotic prescriptions applied after shaving.

  3. For razor burn from dry skin, choosing a shaving cream or gel that is better suited to hydrate the skin adequately in preparation for the shave as well as an aftershave that takes into account hydration can help.

What alternatives to shaving would you recommend to prevent the problem?

If shaving is presenting challenges, it is reasonable to consider alternative hair removal methods such as waxing, plucking, depilatory creams, and threading for temporary hair removal options or hair laser and electrolysis for longer-term hair reduction.



Would at-home laser hair removal devices be considered safe to use?

The use of at-home laser hair removal devices increased substantially during the early days of the pandemic. These devices use an IPL or intense pulsed light platform with lower energy or fluence. This may make them less effective however it also improves their safety profile. These devices are generally considered safe and effective for the long-term management of hair growth with a good safety profile.

Do you have any product recommendations to address each aspect of razor bumps?

If the issue could be your razor... consider a safety razor.
If your skin has a tendency toward ingrown hairs... consider a shaving gel

If you are dealing with dry flaky skin that is easily irritated...consider an alpha hydroxy acid moisturizer to hydrate and exfoliate some of the scales.


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