If you shave frequently, you’re sure to have experienced irritable bumps on your skin. And if they haven’t gone away for a while, you’re probably suffering from barber’s itch. This condition, which often goes by the names “pseudofolliculitis barbae” and “razor bumps,” results in the inflammation of bearded areas of the face due to trapped hair beneath the skin surface (known as ingrowth). It may often be confused with folliculitis barbae, which is the inflammation of hair follicles due to a bacterial or fungal infection.
Barber’s itch is common in men of African descent because they have short, curly hair that needs to be shaved frequently. That said, it’s not uncommon in men of other ethnicities. Women with coarse hair may suffer from pseudofolliculitis if they shave, wax, and tweeze often.
Symptoms Of Barber’s Itch
The main identifiable symptoms of this condition are:1
- Multiple red or skin-colored small bumps on cheeks, chin, and front of the neck
- Small bumps with pus called pustules
As the condition progresses, the bumps may become large and cause hard growths of fibrous tissue called keloids. In severe cases, the skin in the affected areas may become dark and discolored.
Causes Of Barber’s Itch
Although frequent shaving may give your face a clean look, it causes the ends of the tiny hair left behind to become sharp and pointy. This tiny hair – especially if coarse or curly – tends to curl back and penetrate the skin, resulting in a foreign body reaction.2 Your skin becomes inflamed and ends up causing the red bumps you see. Such a reaction is also possible if your hair shaft is structurally weak.
Diagnosis And Treatment Of Barber’s Itch
No special tests are necessary for the diagnosis of barber’s itch. It can easily be identified by observing the physical symptoms. However, if you notice recurring bumps on your skin, it’s a good idea to see your dermatologist at the earliest to rule out the possibility of a bacterial infection (sycosis barbae) or a fungal infection (tinea barbae) with similar symptoms.
The best way to treat this condition is by simply allowing the hair to grow out for a while. Repeated shaving when you have razor bumps could cause the condition to worsen and result in an infection. The following steps could avoid the recurrence of the condition.
- Allow the hair to grow a little before shaving.
- Avoid shaving too close to the skin.
- Try not to stretch your skin when you shave.
- Shave in the direction of hair growth.
- Switch to a trimmer instead of using a razor frequently.
Besides these steps, you can also try simple remedies to treat barber’s itch at home.
Home Remedies For Barber’s Itch
1. Cold Compress
A cold compress works wonders for the inflammation caused by barber’s itch. The low temperature soothes the nerves in the affected area, providing relief.
How To Use
- Apply a cold compress a few times every day for a few days and you’re sure to feel better.
2. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil not only reduces the inflammation caused by pseudofolliculitis barbae but also prevents bacteria from infecting the bumps, making it an ideal home remedy for the condition.3
How To Use
- Add 10 drops of tea tree oil to a bowl of warm water.
- Soak a soft cloth in this solution and apply it on the bumps.
- Repeat a few times a day.
3. Aloe Vera Gel
A popular ingredient in beauty treatments, aloe vera also works wonders for the inflammation caused by razor bumps thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties.4
How To Use
- Cut open some fresh aloe leaves and remove the gel you get.
- Apply the gel liberally on the bumps and allow it to dry.
- After 15–20 minutes, rinse with plain water.
- Do this a few times a day for relief.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar
Organic apple cider vinegar with its abundant benefits also works quite well against barber’s itch. It is believed to function as an anti-inflammatory agent, relieving the discomfort caused by the condition. If you have sensitive skin, remember to do a patch test before trying this remedy.
How To Use
- Dilute a few drops of apple cider vinegar with a bowl of water.
- Dip a soft cloth or a cotton ball in the solution and apply it on the affected areas.
- Do this a few times every day till the inflammation reduces.
Try these easy home remedies and you’re sure to feel relief in a few days. If symptoms persist, see your dermatologist at the earliest.
|↑1||PSEUDOFOLLICULITIS. British Association of Dermatologists.|
|↑2||Pseudofolliculitis Barbae. American Osteopathic College of Dermatology.|
|↑3||Carson, C. F., K. A. Hammer, and T. V. Riley. “Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil: a review of antimicrobial and other medicinal properties.” Clinical microbiology reviews 19, no. 1 (2006): 50-62.|
|↑4||Vera, Aloe. “Wound healing, oral & topical activity of Aloe vera.” Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association 79 (1989): 559-562.|