Tired of red and itchy skin after every shave? Razor bumps can be really annoying and frustrating, especially on the bald head, since you have no way to hide it. How to prevent and cure it?
Firstly we need to understand what a shaving rash is and how it differs from razor bumps. Next, what causes a shaving rash and how to get rid of it. Lastly, we will look into some practical steps to solve the issue every man encounters sooner or later.
Let’s dive in!
Shaving rash (razor burn) vs. razor bumps
How you can prevent the shaving rash if you have one? How it's different from razor bumps?
Let's check the differences between them!
Shaving rash, or razor burn, is a skin irritation that can be caused by dry shaving, shaving too harsh and rude, shaving with dull blades, or having too sensitive skin. It usually appears on the head, face, neck, legs, and pubes. The irritated part becomes red, and the skin texture differs from usual. It can feel like a burning or itching sensation, which gradually goes away when it gets healed. Other symptoms of razor burn may be redness, itching, stinging sensation and bumps.
Aren’t shaving bumps the same as razor burns?
Razor burn and razor bumps are often encountered together, but they are actually 2 different skin conditions. Razor bumps are caused by ingrown hair, trapped inside the pore, which causes a bump to form. They occur after using hair removal techniques such as shaving, waxing, and plucking. Also, they appear after shaving rash.
What causes a shaving rash?
You may ask yourself, “Why do I always get a shaving rash or shaving bumps on my skin?", "What am I doing wrong?”
Let’s see some causes of how we get a shaving rash on the skin.
Dry shavingDry shaving is when you shave without using shaving foam, cream, or any other form of moisturizer to soften your skin while shaving. People are dry shaving mostly with electric razors because it is a time saver.
While many men have no problem using a dry shave, if you have dry or sensitive skin, it can cause nicks and cuts and even a razor burn.
Pressing too hard & Aggressive shavingPressing too hard with aggressive movements will also (certainly will) cause a shaving rash. It can create excessive dryness, which will run the risk of cutting yourself or irritating your skin, causing redness. Moreover, if you use a razor and shave too aggressively, you may cut yourself and have shaving bumps later. People often think that pressing too hard will give them a closer shave, but that is not true. When you press the electric razor too hard, the latter won’t even shave properly, leaving your hair unshaved and just creating a razor burn all over your skin.
Dull bladesA dull blade can actually cause more rash than a sharp one. You may think a dull blade is safer as it won’t be possible to have cuts from it. However, it may result in post-shave irritation and even razor burn after shaving.
Sensitive skin is skin with reduced tolerance to cosmetics and skincare products, shaving methods and anything that can affect it. If your skin is sensitive, it may be easily triggered by different shaving methods and be more vulnerable to razor burn. Therefore, you will need to protect your skin with before-and-after skincare products in order to avoid a shaving rash.
How to prevent rash after shaving your head?
As mentioned above, the skin rash can appear on different parts of the body depending on the skin type, the frequency of shaving the same spot, the skincare routine, and the products applied after shaving. One of the most unwanted areas for a razor burn is the head because, unfortunately, it is the most visible one.
Here are practical steps on how to avoid shaving rash and razor bumps on the head.
Wet shaveWet shaving will reduce the risk of irritation and a rash after shaving. Prior to shaving, spend about ten minutes in warm water to help soften the outer layer of skin, making it easier to remove hair and decreasing the risk of razor burn. For the smoothest and more secure shave, it is recommended to wet shave the head using shaving cream or foam. The latter will help to protect your skin. It will moisturize the skin naturally, preparing it for a safe shave. That way, you will prevent the risk of having a shaving rash.
“Dry shaving causes micro-cuts in the skin, as well as folliculitis, ingrown, irritation, and dryness,” says Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, MD, dermatologist and founder of Entière Dermatology.
And according to Dr Hadley King, "If you don't use a product with emollients and occlusive to protect and moisturize the skin, you can end up with abrasions and irritation — this is razor burn."
Avoid shaving the affected areaTo help your skin cure faster, avoid touching the irritated area of the skin. If you leave your skin alone, it will heal sooner. Moreover, if the irritated area is infected, shaving may spread the infection, causing more trouble and discomfort. So, in order to prevent razor burn, forget shaving for some time until the irritation is completely healed.
Choose the right shaver
Using the right shaver is the key to a comfortable shave. One of the most important features the shaver should have is sharp blades. Whether it’s a razor or an electric shaver, make sure to keep the blades sharp. For that, we recommend replacing the blades regularly. Moreover, wash the blades after each use to keep them clean and hygienic for the next shave. The electric razors are perfect for shaving heads, so the best you can do is shave your head with an electric razor. Choose an electric razor that has both wet and dry shaving options to prevent razor burn. As we have seen previously, wet shaving can be beneficial and more convenient for men with sensitive skin. For the latter, I would recommend using a blade, specifically designed for your sensitive skin. The choice of the right blade can save you from shaving rash. If you have sensitive skin, you will love the Baron blade that features three cutting rings per shaving head, to provide a safer cut for you.
Use aftershave products
An aftershave product can help you to prevent the rash after shaving the head. It’s one of the best ways to avoid the discomfort that may occur after shaving. Aftershave is essential for men with sensitive skin to prevent rash, irritation, skin dryness and help calm redness and itching. So the purpose of aftershave is not only to make the skin refreshed and nicely scented but also to prevent razor burn after the shave. In addition, it provides extra protection to your skin and helps it to maintain skin hygiene.
“Never, ever skip moisturizing the skin after a shave. It’s essential to moisturize immediately out of the shower to lock in the moisture and reduce inflammation from shaving,” says Marnie Nussbaum, MD, dermatologist.
Get on a regular skincare routine
You may wonder how to build your skincare routine?
A skincare routine consists of three main steps: cleansing, toning, and moisturizing. It is important to follow the correct order, to get the skin of your dreams.
Your first step should be a warm shower to soften your skin and hair. The next step is to apply the scrub in order to exfoliate the skin, prepare it and remove the dead skin cells. After this, the skin will be ready for shaving without getting nicks and cuts. When you are done with shaving, apply toners and moisturizers (aftershave products). This routine will help you prevent rash after shaving your head.
“Wash your razor every two to three strokes. Rinse skin with cool water after you shave and pat skin dry. Also, do not shave over the same area more than once. Use shaving cream and gel: these textures coat the hair and enhance the glide of the razor against skin, helping minimize potential skin irritation,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital.
Practical steps to prevent bumps:
- Wash your face to remove excess oil.
- Exfoliate the area you will shave with a gentle scrub to clean out the pores and remove the dead skin.
- Always shave in the downward direction, in the same direction that your hair grows.
- Keep the shaved area always clean and avoid touching it.
- Apply a warm compress to open the pores and help the ingrown hair to come out. It will also help to relieve the pain.
“Exfoliating your head prior to shaving will remove the dead skin cells, allowing easier gliding and better hair removal, which will also dramatically decrease razor bumps and ingrown hair,” says Marnie Nussbaum, MD, dermatologist.
How to stop shaving rash on the head?
While all of the above helps prevent shaving rash, you’d likely want to know what to do if you already have one. So how to treat razor burn on your head and speed up the healing process.
“One of the best treatments for razor burn is no treatment!” says Robert Finney, MD, a dermatologist.
In order to help your skin cure faster, avoid touching the affected area of the skin. Moreover, stop shaving the affected area so that it heals faster.
What are the main treatments to speed up the healing process?
Warm and Cold compressOne of the best ways to treat the razor burn is a cold compress. It will cool the affected area of the head and help reduce skin irritation or itching. In other words, it will help soothe irritated skin and stop the irritation faster than it would get healed naturally.
On the other hand, a warm compress is more helpful than a cold one for treating shaving bumps. It will open the pores and help ingrown hairs to come out.
Aloe veraAloe vera is known for its healing and cooling properties. It can even heal first and second-degree burns as well. Apply a thin layer of pure aloe vera or natural aloe vera gel on the affected area of the skin. The skin will get cooled (It will have a cooling effect on your skin), and razor burn will heal sooner.
Also, note that in the same way, you can use cucumber as well. It has similar cooling and relaxing properties and is easy to find.
Green tea and ChamomileGreen tea has anti-inflammatory properties and can help reduce skin irritation, shaving rash, skin redness, and swelling. Applying green tea to your skin can soothe minor cuts and sunburn as well. As it has strong anti-inflammatory properties, it’s an effective treatment for many dermatological conditions.
Along with green tea, chamomile tea or the oil extract may also help cure redness, hyperpigmentation, and acne. Chamomile is also used in wound healing and soothes sensitive and irritated skin and razor burn as well.
Baking sodaBaking soda has a cooling effect on the skin and can stop shaving rash. You can use it as a paste (dense) or mix it with more water (in more liquid form). Apply it on the affected area on the head with a cotton pad and leave it until the soda dries, then rinse it off.
Tea tree oilTea tree oil is an anti-inflammatory oil. It helps to soothe and relieve painful and irritated skin, discomfort, itchiness, and razor burns. It also has antibacterial properties and antiseptic components; thus, it effectively heals wounds. Apply the oil to the affected area a few times per day.
Mix one tablespoon of olive oil with five drops of tea tree oil. Use a cotton ball and apply the mixture to the affected area. Let sit for 15 minutes and wash off with warm water.
Coconut oilCoconut oil is associated with a multitude of healthy properties and benefits. It is a good antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Coconut oil should be applied directly to the areas where there is a shaving rash. It keeps the irritated and dry skin hydrated and moisturized.
“Because coconut oil is solid in cooler climates, it melts into the skin as a person applies it, which will feel soothing,” says Marie Hayag, MD, dermatologist
In the same way as the oils mentioned above, you can use other organic and natural food oils, such as sunflower seed oil, avocado oil, almond oil, grape seed oil, etc.
“Oils add a layer of protection against the razor and can ease the shaving process. They help to soften the skin, thus making hair removal much easier,” says Gunvor Ekman-Ordeberg, MD, DeoDoc expert
PanthenolPanthenol is one of the best products for irritated and sensitive skin, razor burns, and shaving bumps. Panthenol is made to treat and cure insect bites, poison ivy, sunburn, and even diaper rash. It is a skin protectant with anti-inflammatory properties, which doctors love to recommend often. Panthenol is one of the first products applied after laser treatments, when the skin may get red and itchy, with a burning sensation.
Natural moisturizersApply natural moisturizers to treat both shaving rash and razor bumps. It will keep the skin moisturized, and protect the skin from itchiness, redness, and swelling. Aftershave products are good moisturizers and can be applied to dry skin.
“Razor burn is often caused by not using products with emollients like shaving cream or gel. Emollients, an ingredient in a moisturizer that keeps skin soft, smooth and hydrated, which is important because when you shave, you are not just getting rid of hair – you are also stripping away the outermost layers of skin. Using products containing emollients while shaving protects and moisturizes skin, thus decreasing the chance of skin becoming irritated, causing a razor burn,” says Hadley King, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York.
To sum up
While razor bumps and shaving rash can become really annoying, they generally do not cause serious health problems and can be treated at home.
We hope this guide will help you understand where to start from.
However, if the home remedies do not work, consider seeing a doctor or dermatologist for professional advice.
How long does a shaving rash last?
The time frame for your razor burn to heal depends on how you treat it. In most cases, it takes two to three days to heal completely. Sometimes the skin can be too sensitive and take a longer time to heal. However, you can speed up the recovery with the right treatment.
When to see a doctor if I get a shaving rash?
If you find difficulty in ordinary activities or feel any discomfort that causes you to lose sleep
If the rash continues for weeks and there is no process of healing
If you find the shaving rash infected and turning into pus, it’s a sign you need to see a doctor
What cream is good for shaving rash?
Choose a cream with soothing, antiseptic and antimicrobial ingredients, a cream that will help keep the affected area cool, hydrated and moisturized. A cream that has anti-inflammatory properties will be the best option for shaving rash and razor bumps.