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Razor Bumps

Topic Overview

What are razor bumps?

Razor bumps, or ingrown hairs, are small, irritated bumps on the skin. They happen after you shave, when strands of hair curl back on themselves and grow into the skin. They cause irritation and pimples. They also may cause scarring.

How are razor bumps treated?

The best way to treat razor bumps is to stop shaving. If you can't do that, use a clean needle to release the hair shaft when you see a bump forming. This usually stops a razor bump from growing.

If you start shaving again, razor bumps usually return.

For severe razor bumps, you may need a special skin cream, such as hydrocortisone, antibiotic, or tretinoin cream.

Do other hair removal methods cause razor bumps?

Waxing and plucking may cause razor bumps.

Hair removal products called depilatories do not cause razor bumps. But they can irritate the skin and should be used only once or twice a week.

Removing hair permanently with laser treatments, or electrolysis, does not cause razor bumps.

Can razor bumps be prevented?

These tips can help when you shave:

  • Moisten your skin with water and mild soap first. This will soften the hair and open the pores.
  • Use a thick shaving gel.
  • Don't stretch the skin when you shave. Always shave in the direction the hair is growing. Use the fewest razor strokes possible. Rinse with cold water.
  • Use an electric razor if you can adjust it to avoid the closest setting.
  • After you shave, use a moisturizing cream.

Who is likely to get razor bumps?

Anyone can get them. They're most common in people with tightly curled or spiral hair strands.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Amy McMichael, MD - Dermatology
Last Revised August 14, 2013

Last Revised: August 14, 2013

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