Razor bumps. Ingrown hairs. The medical term is pseudofolliculitis barbae (PFB). It’s characterized by inflammatory bumps that develop around the hair follicle after hair removal, especially shaving. Men with curly hair and darker skin types are most prone to PFB in their beard area, but it can affect anyone, including womens’ bikini line, armpits, and legs. It can happen with any type of hair removal, including waxing and depilatory use (i.e. Nair); though is less commonly seen in laser hair removal, which may be used as a long term treatment.
PFB develops after too close of a shave, when curled hair is cut at an oblique angle, giving it a razor-like edge. When the hair grows, the sharp edge of the hair penetrates the skin, growing in a spiral fashion, inducing inflammation. It can range from red bumps to pimple-like lesions to firm, dark brown lumps. Your dermatologist can help you distinguish PFB from similar skin conditions such as acne, folliculitis, or other less common facial rashes.
Often, the best solution for severe PFB is to take a break from shaving to let the irritated area calm down. During your shaving vacation, you may trim the hair, but make sure to do so in the same direction of hair growth. After the bumps are gone and your skin has healed (days for mild cases but may take months for severe cases), you may resume shaving using the below tips to prevent the bumps from coming back.
See related post on shaving tips when you are ready to get back at it!