Razor Bumps

Razor Bumps

Razor bumps, also known as “pseudofolliculitis barbae” on the face and “pseudofolliculitis pubis” on pubic skin, is an intense inflammation presenting as acne-like pimples and pus-heads on hair-bearing areas that are shaved such as the face, scalp, neck, bikini areas, and legs.

What causes it?

The cause is believed to be intense ‘foreign body’ reaction to growing curly hair that reenters the skin, a short distance away. Black men and women are predisposed to this condition because of their natural curly hair. Razor bumps can also occur when the sharp tip of a growing hair first pierces through the sac of the follicle. Close shaving, pulling skin taut while shaving, shaving against the grain, plucking hairs with tweezers, using wax strips or electrolysis, and using multiple-bladed razors can also increase the likelihood of developing razor bumps. These hair removal methods leave the sharp tip of the hair follicle just below the skin surface, which is then more likely to pierce through the sac or enter the nearby skin, causing an intense inflammatory reaction.

What are the treatment options?

  • Behavior Modification: Switch to alternate methods of hair removal like chemical depilatories and avoid regular close shaving
  • Medications: Topical retinols like tretinoin and tazarotene can be applied nightly remove the thin top layer of skin that the growing hair becomes trapped in. Topical corticosteroid creams can help to reduce inflammation. Topical eflornithine HCL 13.9% cream (Vaniqa) has been used for excessive facial hair and in patients with pseudofolliculitis barbae. For severe cases of presenting with pustules and abscess formation, topical and oral antibiotics may be prescribed.

Treatment is important to prevent scarring, hyperpigmentation, secondary infection, and keloid formation. Talk to our dermatologists if you have this condition or are subject to the requirement of a clean-shaven face for military or other employment purposes, so you can be exempt until your condition improves or resolves.