You go through puberty and throughout all of it you find yourself being told: ‘do not worry, when you are an adult they’ll go away’. Then you become an adult and they clear up, but you find that what they didn’t tell you is that now you’d have to start dealing with shaving rash. This is a rash that occurs, of course, when you shave and so is visible around the mouth and cheeks. It may also be visible around the pubic region for women who shave their pubic region.
Shaving rash is particularly bad for those with curly hair and is also called ‘pseudofollicultis barbae’ or ‘sycosis barbae’. Colloquially it can also be called ‘barbers’ itch’ or ‘razor lumps’. The cause for this is normally a result of the hair in your face curling round after you’ve cut it and burrowing into the skin. Normally when your hairs are longer they are kept straight by their own weight, but when they are cut they are then light enough and close enough to the skin to dig into the surrounding skin. This creates small lumps and then when you come to shave again you will cut the lumps themselves causing further irritation. This can cause an angry looking rash and can in some cases result in in-growing hairs. It might also result in infection from the staphylococcus bacteria – the same one that causes MRSA.
Other rashes on the skin can also occur as a result of your opening up the pores, and drying out the skin of its normal moisture. There are several ways to prevent this from being a problem.
Firstly, to prevent skin rash that comes from the curling hair follicles you will need to try and shave in a particular ways. Fortunately to do this, there are a few tips to follow:
• If the rash is infected then use tea tree oil or something similar and apply topically.
• Find curling hairs with a magnifying glass or a shaving mirror and cut them with a pair of small, sharp scissors.
• Allow you beard or pubic hairs to grow out for a while. If you have persistent problems, then keeping stubble is a good way to avoid the issue altogether as it will mean the hairs grow longer and so straighter over the top of the skin. It also hides any rash that does occur.
• Now next time when you shave: First of all, try to avoid pulling on the skin. Often we do this to get a close shave, but it can make the hairs protrude further than they will normally. In other words, you tighten the skin and the hairs pop out, and then when you release the skin they pop back in and can dig in when they grow.
• Do not shave ‘against the grain’.
• Avoid shaving too close. If you have already caused a rash, then you want to avoid cutting the lumps made by the hair follicles – so now is not the time for a really close shave.
• Use a good shaving gel or foam and this will help the blade to glide across the hairs to keep them at a similar level.
There are also some general tips you should follow when shaving to prevent other forms of rash or irritation as a result. There several few tips to follow for ‘general’ good shaving practice. Some are as follows…
• Wash your razor thoroughly and replace the blade regularly to prevent the spread of bacteria. Run it under boiling water each time you re-use it, or if your problems persist try using disposable razors.
• Use a moisturiser after you shave to return moisture to the skin. If you have sensitive skin then look for a moisturiser that is designed for your affliction.
• Exfoliate. Exfoliating will remove the dead skin from your face and open up pores. This prevents spots and also gets rid of another layer of skin that hairs could grow into.