Summer is approaching and soon you may be plagued by pesky red bumps all over your body. No, not mosquito bites—razor bumps. Even if you’re shaving properly and using these methods to prevent shaving hazards like razor burn, you still may find yourself wondering how to get rid of razor bumps.
What are razor bumps?
These “razor bumps” are actually ingrown hairs. “What happens is when the hair is not cut properly, often it is pulled and the hair ends up re-entering the skin. Or when it is cut, if it curls up, it can also re-enter the skin,” says plastic surgeon David L. Cangello, MD, FACS. “This causes an inflammatory reaction around the hair follicle which results in swelling and redness which manifest as red bumps.”
As a result, you may find raised, red bumps resembling pimples several days after you shave. They can be itchy and uncomfortable, according to Inna Knyazevych, esthetician at IN•GLO MedSpa, and may have pus inside. Women might notice them on their legs, pubic area, and armpits, while men may see them on their face and neck. However, razor bumps can appear anywhere where hair follicles are present and can happen more often to people with curly or coarse hair.
How do you get rid of razor bumps?
The solution for how to get rid of razor bumps may already be in your bathroom closet. Cangello says washing the bumps with a gentle exfoliating face wash like this one or topical retinol can help smooth up your skin. Aloe gels or other anti-inflammatories can also help with healing.
“Both of these things loosen the dead skin cells and help to rid the skin surface of this debris,” he says. “This aids in drainage of any micro-infection under the skin surface which will help the bumps dissipate.”
Dr. Megan Rogge, a dermatologist at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth, also suggests holding a warm compress on the bumps three times a day for ten minutes each. Otherwise, razor bumps tend to go away on their own.
“You want to remove any crusts at the top of the spots,” Rogge says. “That crust can often keep the hair trapped in. If they’re really itchy or irritated, you can use a low potency steroid lotion which can decrease inflammation.”
How do you prevent razor bumps?
But the real question is not how to get rid of razor bumps, but how to prevent them. Nazanin Saedi MD, director of Jefferson Laser Surgery and Cosmetic Dermatology Center, recommends using a thick lather shaving cream and shaving in the direction of your body hair to prevent razor bumps. She also suggests using a single-blade razor (so there’s less pulling of the hair). These methods, combined with these tips for shaving your legs, will give you the smoothest skin yet.