Since so many of us shave, razor bumps and burn is a common problem. It's only a temporary skin issue but, nevertheless, is an annoying one and can even be severe enough to require intervention.
But let's take a step back first -- is razor burn actually the same as razor bumps? Do they have the same preventions and treatments? It depends.
What Are Razor Burns and Bumps?
The inflamed, irritated skin that sometimes appears after shaving goes by many names: razor rash, razor burn, and razor bumps.
- It can appear if you shave without using gels or creams, use a dull razor, or shave excessively (such as when your stubble is still very short, or repetitively shaving a single area trying to get it smoother).
- It can occur wherever you shave, so razor burn on legs is common, as well as along necks, bikini lines, and underarms.
- The skin becomes red and sensitive, sometimes with an itch or burning sensation like a rash or minor abrasion burn. A thin layer of scabbing is possible.
- Sometimes the affected area may break out in little angry bumps.
Ingrown hairs can be a related skin issue brought on by shaving.
- If shaved hair begins growing back down into the skin, rather than out of the top, it'll become trapped in a bump.
- These aren't razor bumps per se -- but since they're semi-sensitive bumps that can appear after a shave, they're sometimes referred to as such!
Don't worry. We'll cover both of these issues, just in case.
Finally, do shaving bumps and burns have anything else in common with the ingrown hair on legs? Yes: they carry a small risk of infection in some instances.
If your razor burn doesn't improve for more than a few days or worsens, it's best to visit a dermatologist who can prescribe topical antibiotics. The same goes for when you pick at ingrown hairs, breaking the skin open. That can cause scarring as well.
How to Treat Razor Burn and Bumps
First, let's focus on how to get rid of razor bumps and burn.
If you feel it's only a slight abrasion and you're not pained or uncomfortable, how long does razor burn last if untreated? It should clear up after only a few days, healing progressively.
However, you shouldn't aggravate the area further. Avoid shaving and exfoliation as long as possible -- waiting until after you're fully healed would be best.
There are a few ways to relieve razor burn symptoms and potentially speed up the healing process (just a bit).
This works excellently fresh out of the shower. Simply run a washcloth under cold water, wring out much of the excess water, and put it in place. You can leave it draped, or hold it in against your skin with light pressure.
This over-the-counter topical soothes irritation and itchiness and can reduce redness and inflammation. You may already have some in your medicine cabinet for bug bites. Just don't use it if your razor burn has caused any skin breakage.
Aloe vera's soothing properties are well known, often used on the usual kind of burn. It also moisturizes, which benefits razor burn, too. Aloe-based products like this Nacach Moisturizing Milk will work similarly to pure aloe vera.
If you're having an itchy irritation or uncomfortable sensitivity, witch hazel may suit your needs more than aloe. It's anti-inflammatory and treats irritation and itchiness, like a natural alternative to hydrocortisone. Tea tree oil is another good choice: it's anti-inflammatory and antibacterial. This Nacach Post Wax Refreshing Cream with tea tree and menthol adds a cooling sensation.
Finally, if your razor burned skin isn't incredibly irritated, but you don't want to leave it untreated, just make sure to moisturize. Pat the area dry and gently apply an alcohol-free moisturizer. Shea butter or coconut oil will smooth and soothe so that you could try something like Nacach Body Oil for this one.
How to Remove Ingrown Hair
The trick to removing ingrown hairs is to be gentle, not rough. You should create conditions where ingrown hairs won't occur rather than figure out how to dig them out of your skin. The Nacach post wax care products mentioned above all help decrease the risk of new ingrown hairs if applied after hair removal.
There are only a couple of other guidelines.
- Exfoliate. Let us repeat: exfoliation is key! Ingrown hairs won't break free and let you shave them even if you run a razor over the bumps. You must exfoliate first to remove that excess skin, and the hair will naturally emerge.
Either chemical or physical exfoliants (salicylic, glycolic, or citric acids versus scrubs or pumice) will do the trick. Use what's right for your skin and the sensitivity of the affected area. It may take a few washes with a few exfoliators to fully free an ingrown hair. Don't try to rush the process, as that in itself could cause abrasions and irritation.
- Try to shave less often. Shorter hairs are closer to the follicle and harder to remove. It's the perfect environment for hairs to recede into the skin or curl backward, and then you'll be increasing ingrown hairs rather than removing them.
Wait for a little more hair growth. If you shave every day, for example, try every two days. Remember, however, that even long hairs can be trapped beneath the skin. Keep up with the exfoliating.
- Use fresh, sharp razors. A sharper blade will have an easier time removing hair and reduce the amount of pressure you need for a close shave. Both of these factors reduce the chances of ingrown hair.
How to Prevent Razor Burn
There's quite some overlap between how to shave legs to avoid razor burn and avoid the ingrown hairs we've already discussed.
- Exfoliation is still helpful. The more manageable hair is to remove, the less your razor has to work against your skin.
- Sharp blades are still helpful, for the same reason. Dull blades drag heavily on the skin's surface, making a burn or bumps more likely.
Here are a few more tips specifically for razor burn prevention.
- Have a warm soak. Instead of quickly launching into a shave, make sure your skin is warmed up and thoroughly dampened. This will ensure it's soft and relaxed, and hair won't be as hard to remove.
- Use shaving cream, shaving gel, or some other lathering and hydrating products. It decreases friction between the blade and your skin.
- Once again, moisturize after you shave. It isn't only for soothing existing razor burn! It helps repair and protect the outermost layer of skin so that it's ready for another round of shaving later. Plus, it helps prevent irritation from developing.
Knowing how to get rid of razor burn is only half the battle; the rest of the struggle is knowing how to prevent it. The same goes for ingrown hairs, which you can't even pick at after the fact -- unless you want irritated red blotches, scarred skin, and the risk of infection.
Luckily, preventing razor burn, bumps, and ingrown hairs is as easy knowing how to shave your legs (or face, or bikini line).
Soak, exfoliate, lather up, moisturize, and keep those blades sharp.