Many people who shave, tweeze, or wax tend to experience a type of skin irritation called razor burn, and this skin condition often triggers tiny and itchy inflammations usually referred to as razor bumps. Razor bumps, which are medically known as Pseudofollicultis Barbae, form as new strands of hair curl back, puncture, and re-enter the skin while growing.
Although not a serious health problem, these bumps are by no means pretty and can be a nuisance. They can fill up with puss, cause skin discoloration, or give rise to keloidal scars. The worst part is that razor bumps itch and cause quite a bit of discomfort. And when these pustules develop an infection from staph bacteria, they turn into a more serious skin disorder called Barber’s rash.
Razor bumps are more common in people with curly hair such as black men and women. That said, however, they can appear on just about anyone who shaves regularly.
Ways to Get Rid of Razor Bumps
From the face and underarms, to legs and thighs, razor bumps can form on any hairy part of the body after shaving. Since the bikini area is very sensitive, it’s more prone to shaving irritation. Needless to say, having an itchy skin irritation on your nether region can be embarrassing too. Fortunately, you can get rid of razor bumps on your bikini area with some simple home remedies.
Natural Home Remedies for Razor Bumps
A hallmark symptom of razor bumps is itchiness. Therefore, it’s normal to experience a strong urge to scratch the affected area. However, you should resist scratching or picking at razor bumps since they could break open and become infected.
If you can wait it out, most razor bumps disappear within a few days. But, why wait and endure all that irritation when you do not have to? The next time you shave the bikini area and experience itchiness or swelling, try any of these natural home remedies to alleviate discomfort and speed up recovery:
- Aloe Vera
Razor bumps can be treated quickly with Aloe Vera gel. The healing power of Aloe Vera is well known and in fact, many people use this herbal remedy to treat all sorts of cuts and burns.
By moisturizing your skin with Aloe Vera, you’ll be helping your skin speed up the healing process. This all-natural gel is also effective at soothing swelling and the burning sensation that accompanies razor bumps.
- Get a fresh leaf or buy Aloe Vera juice from a herbal drug store.
- Cut the leaf open and rub the gel on the razor-bump affected area. Alternatively, simply rub the juice on the affected area using a cotton ball.
- Give the gel time to dry then rinse the treated area with cold water.
- Start this remedy immediately after shaving and repeat 2 to 3 times daily for one week.
- Hot/Cold Compress
When the burning sensation on razor bumps begins to irritate you, a cold compress can provide instant relief. The cold temperature numbs never endings on the affected area temporarily, thereby alleviating discomfort. To get even better results, use a cold compress right after shaving. This will help to prevent razor bumps in the first place.
A hot compress on the other is great for soothing itchiness and treating ingrown hair. When you apply heat on the affected area, this will cause skin pores to open up and free trapped hair. Simply place a heating pad or towel soaked in moderately hot water on the bikini area after shaving. Allow the heat to warm your skin for about 5 minutes then moisturize the treated area as usual.
- Baking Soda
The anti-inflammatory properties of baking soda can help to soothe the skin and prevent any irritation that may promote razor bump development. Additionally, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) can restore pH imbalances on red, irritated skin thanks to its amphoteric nature.
The following is a simple home treatment for razor bumps that uses baking soda to reduce itchiness and redness.
- Combine one cup of water with one tablespoon of baking soda.
- Soak a piece of cotton wool in the solution then rub it on the affected area.
- Keep the razor bumps wet with baking soda solution for about five minutes before rinsing the area with cold water.
- Repeat this treatment several times daily until all signs of razor burn disappear.
- Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil has many medicinal qualities that make it a good treatment for skin related problems. It’s rich in antibacterial, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory agents. When applied on shaved and irritated skin, this essential oil helps to bring down swelling and prevent razor bumps from becoming infected.
- Method 1
Dilute some tea tree oil with water using the ratio of 2:5 drops respectively. Apply this solution on the itching razor bumps and let it stay on for about 10 minutes before washing it off with lukewarm water. Repeat this treatment at least twice every day until you are contended.
- Method 2
Alternatively, you can mix tea tree oil with another antiseptic base such as lavender oil. Simply mix 3 drops of tea tree oil with 1 tablespoon of lavender oil. Rub the mixture on the affected area and give it about 15 minutes to penetrate the skin. Rinse off with cold water and repeat this process 2 to 3 times daily for as long as it’s needed.
Honey can work wonders on razor bumps that are already showing signs of infection. This ingredient is found in many skin care products because of its anti-bacterial properties. As a result, honey heals infected razor bumps or provides protection against infection. What’s more, it will reduce swelling and keep your razor-bump-affected skin moisturized.
- Method 1:
All you have to do is apply a liberal amount of honey on the irritated skin then allow it to air dry before rinsing off with cold water.
- Method 2:
Another option would involve mixing 3/4 tablespoon of honey with one tablespoon of plain yogurt. Allow this mixture to remain on the treatment area for fifteen minutes then rinse with warm water for easy removal.
- Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar can be helpful in three ways when used to treat razor bumps:
- To begin with, its acetic acid content will keep infections at bay.
- Secondly, apple cider vinegar is a natural anti-inflammatory. This means that it will reduce swelling on irritated skin after shaving.
- Thirdly, this ingredient will keep you from scratching razor bumps courtesy of its anti-itching properties.
You can take advantage of the healing power of apple cider vinegar to treat razor bumps using this simple and fast remedy:
- Soak a cotton ball in apple cider vinegar then pat it on the irritated area. If you have super-sensitive skin, dilute the vinegar before applying it on your already irritated skin.
- Wait for about 10 minutes so that the treated area can air dry.
- Repeat this procedure 2 to 3 times every day until the razor burn stop itching.
- Black Tea
Black tea is a rich source of tannin. This organic compound is a natural astringent that helps to reduce inflammation and redness caused by razor bumps. The best part about black tea is that you can also simply save a few tea bags after enjoying a relaxing cup of tea and use them later for treating razor bumps.
- Chill a moistened tea bag in the refrigerator for about ten minutes. The cold temperature will provide an even more soothing effect on itching razor bumps.
- Rub the cool and moist tea bag on the affected area and then give the tannic acid five minutes to work its healing properties.
- Rinse the treated area with cold water and moisturize your skin as usual.
- Do this several times daily while razor bumps last to get rid of discomfort.
- Lemon Juice
Lemon juice is slightly acidic in nature. As such, it will eliminate the microbes that irritate inflamed skin. Citric acid in lemon juice is also a natural astringent. This quality allows it to dry out razor bumps and reduce inflammation. Here are simple steps on how to use lemon juice on irritated skin after shaving:
- Use a juicer to extract the liquid from 3 lemons. Ensure to dilute the lemon juice with water so that it is doesn’t cause any further irritation. Alternatively, buy a bottle of fresh lemon juice from your herbal drug store.
- Use a cotton ball to apply the lemon juice on the razor-burn afflicted area. Store any excess juice in the refrigerator for later use.
- Leave the lemon juice on the treatment area for about 10 minutes then rinse off with lukewarm water.
- Follow this treatment at least twice daily to control itchiness and redness on razor bumps.
- Witch hazel
Witch hazel has skin soothing properties and it’s a natural anti-inflammatory that works great at reducing redness and swelling on razor bumps. You can also count on witch hazel to prevent further infection on razor bumps since it’s a natural antiseptic.
There are many skin treatment products that contain witch hazel as one of the active ingredients. Visit your herbal drug store and ask for one that treats razor bumps.
For the best results, just apply the witch-hazel based treatment as directed on the instruction label.
How to Combat Razor Bumps with Medications
It’s also possible to treat razor burn with pharmaceutical medications that might be available at your local pharmacy. If you’re not sure of which drug to use, it’s prudent to ask your pharmacist for advice. To help you narrow your list, here are details of common drugs that provide relief for itchy and inflamed razor bumps:
- Aspirin Paste
Aspirin contains Salicylic acid, a chemical compound that sheds dead skin cells, opens up clogged follicles, and kills bacteria. These medicinal properties can help you get rid of razor bumps fast.
To Prepare This Topical Application:
- Crush 2 to 3 aspirin pills and then mix the powder with a few drops of water to end up with a paste.
- Coat the razor bumps with aspirin paste and let it dry before rinsing off with lukewarm water.
- A few applications of this treatment should help razor bumps to disappear quickly.
- 1% Hydrocortisone Cream
This non-prescription medication is commonly used to treat inflammatory skin problems such as eczema, pruritis (itchiness), and psoriasis. Hydrocortisone cream causes blood vessels to constrict and lessens blood flow. Its working mechanism reduces redness and irritation. Applying 1% hydrocortisone cream will therefore provide relief when razor burn strikes.
- Antibacterial Creams
To protect razor bumps from infection, consider using an antibacterial cream. If you do not know which cream would be the best choice, some reputable brands include Bacitracin, Neosporin, and Polysporin.
- Glycolic Cream
You can use glycolic cream to improve the skin’s appearance and texture when experiencing skin irritation after waxing or shaving. This ointment helps to reduce or prevent scaring and hyper-pigmentation caused by razor bumps over time.
When applied topically, glycolic acid causes dead cells on the epidermis to shed more readily. Initially, it might sting a little but the slight pain will subside almost immediately.
- Retin A Cream
Repeated bouts of razor bumps take a toll on your skin overtime. However, you can reduce the appearance of scars left by razor bumps with the help of Retin A cream. This topical ointment is a derivative of Vitamin A. It contains Retinoids that help to smooth out the skin and reverse scaring.
Keep in mind though that Retin A cream is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
- Alum Block
Alum block is a special antiseptic bar that resembles soap. It’s often sold at specialty shaving stores as a men’s product, but women can use it too.
This bar works as an anticoagulant. As a result, you can apply it on your freshly waxed or shaved bikini area to prevent bleeding. Alum Block helps to stop razor bumps from becoming infected since it closes open pores and cuts.
Most medications that treat razor burn do not require a doctor’s prescription to acquire them. However, some of them may be unsafe, especially for people with certain health conditions or those under medication. It’s therefore important to read the patient information leaflet before using any razor burn medication.
Prevent Razor Bumps Anywhere with These Simple Tips
When it comes to razor bumps, prevention is always better than cure. Here are some pointers of what you need to do to avoid skin irritation after hair removal.
- Practice Good Shaving Habits and Techniques
Did you know that there are certain shaving habits and methods that increase the chances of razor burn? Read on to learn about the dos and don’ts of shaving.
- Let Hair Grow a Bit Long Before Shaving
Perhaps not the kind of advice the clean-shaven enthusiasts would expect to hear, but letting hair grow a little longer actually reduces the chances of experiencing razor burn.
Shaving every day will irritate fresh bumps, so it’s wise to give them a chance to heal. If you must shave/wax your bikini area often, do this after every 5 to 7 days.
- Don’t Use Blunt Razors
As a general rule of thumb, shaving is best done with a sharp razor. You should always buy a new razor if your current one becomes dull. A dull blade will irritate hair follicles since you’ll be forced to press harder against the skin to get a clean cut. This also increases the risk of accidental nicks that might cause razor bumps to become infected.
Although high quality blades don’t come cheap, they tend to last long and are worth the investment. You can extend the life of your razor by taking care of it. Use an old toothbrush to scrub the blade under running water for a deeper clean. In addition, pat the blade dry with a clean towel when you’re through shaving to prevent rusting and dulling.
- Exfoliate Before and After Shaving
When dead skin cells and bacteria clog hair follicles, this encourages ingrown hair. As one of the contributing factors of razor bumps, ingrown hair is a condition that you should avoid. Before shaving the bikini area, always exfoliate to unblock any clogged pores. Exfoliating again when you are done will help to wipe away any excess dead skin particles that were brought up by shaving.
You can use a washcloth or exfoliation scrub such as mitt or loofah sponge. Exfoliating once or twice a week after shaving can also be helpful. This will effectively remove dead skin cells that block hair follicles and encourage razor bumps to form.
- Soak in Warm Water or Take a Hot Shower Before Shaving
When planning to shave the bikini area, it helps to expose the hair to warm water before cutting it. Soaking in warm water or taking a hot shower before shaving softens the hair and makes your skin less prone to irritation.
If you don’t have much time to take a shower or soak in the tub, a faster method is to press a clean, washcloth soaked in warm water on the bikini area for about 60 seconds.
- Lubricate the Skin with Pre-shave Oil or Shaving Cream
One of the biggest contributing factors to razor bump development is shaving when your skin is dry. However, you can avoid this by simply using pre-shave oil or shaving cream. Much like warm water, shaving gel or pre-shave oil softens hair and moisturizes the skin to make shaving easier and prevent irritation.
- Shave in the Direction of Hair Growth
This is one of the best techniques to prevent razor bumps. Shaving in the direction of hair growth allows hair to grow back naturally because new strands will have smooth angled cuts that are less likely to curl and pierce the skin.
On the bikini area, hair grows downward. This means that you should stroke the razor from the top going down. The only drawback with this method is that you won’t get the super close and smooth shave that can only be achieved when shaving against the grain.
- Although shaving in the opposite direction of hair growth allows you to cut hair below the skin level, this creates irritation and facilitates development of ingrown hair.
- Avoid Going Over the Same Place Twice
Try not to pass the razor over the same patch of hair twice as this only causes more irritation to the skin. You can still get a close shave with fewer strokes by using a few simple techniques. To do so:
- Trim long hair with a pair of scissors so that there will be no entanglement in between the blades on your shaving razor.
- Alternatively, you can use an electric clipper with the guide comb on to trim the hair before grabbing your razor to get a close shave.
- It also helps to hold the skin taut when shaving because an even surface helps the razor to cut as much hair as it possibly can.
- Don’t Press the Razor too Hard Against the Skin When Shaving
When shaving, you may be tempted to press the razor harder on the skin to get a closer shave. However, avoid this because too much pressure will only make the razor uneven on your skin can cause irritation. To prevent razor bumps, hold the razor lightly and glide it over the bikini area.
- Rinse with Cold Water After Shaving
Cold water lowers the temperature on your skin and causes the tiny muscles attached to each hair follicle to contract. This in turn closes skin pores and makes it more difficult for bacteria to invade your skin. It’s therefore a good practice to rinse off with cold water after shaving. Pressing a cold wet, cloth on the bikini area would also work just fine.
- Pat Dry and Apply Moisturizing Lotion
Another great way to keep razor bumps at bay after shaving is to dry the area and apply some moisturizer. The key to preventing further aggravation on your newly shaved bikini area is to pat it dry. Don’t rub the area with your towel as this only irritates the skin more.
In addition, make sure to apply some Aloe Vera gel or any other natural moisturizer after drying the shaved area. This will reduce redness and irritation as well as decrease the risk of razor burn.
- Wear Loose Clothing After Shaving
It helps to wear loose clothing after shaving. This way, sweat and bacteria won’t get trapped down there plus new strands of hair will have space to grow naturally. Preferably, choose cotton underwear or any other breathable fabric. Remember that tight clothing will only encourage formation of ingrown hair on the bikini area, one of the precursors for razor bumps.
- Try Chemical Depilatory
Chemical depilatory eliminates one of the major causes of razor burn. With this hair removal method, you don’t have to shave or wax. Instead, depilatory uses chemicals to remove hair just above or below the skin’s surface.
These depilatory chemicals usually come in the form of a gel, cream, lotion, roll-on liquid, powder, or aerosol. Once applied on the skin, the chemical compound remains on hair strands for a given period. The chemicals weaken hair so that it falls off easily when scrapped.
As with any chemical based product, this method of hair removal has a few drawbacks. For starters, chemical depilatory creams generally give off a foul smell and some people may experience skin irritation when using them. In addition, the effects only last for a short period since hair growth begins to appear typically within 2 to 5 days.
Despite these disadvantages, chemical depilatory is a painless, fast, and inexpensive way to remove unwanted hair without causing irritation on the skin. It can be done at home and no professional assistance is required. The fact that there are many over-the-counter products in the market is also an added bonus of choosing to remove unwanted hair through chemical depilatory.
Bear in mind that formulations for depilatory creams may vary depending on the brand. Therefore, ensure to choose a hair removal cream that has been approved for use on the bikini area to avoid irritation.
- Consider Long Term Hair Removal
Shaving increases the risk of razor bumps. Therefore, you can avoid or at least minimize razor burn bouts by opting for semi-permanent methods of hair removal. Here are two options for long-term hair removal.
Waxing removes hair from the root and it can take anywhere between four to six weeks before seeing any re-growth. Although some people experience skin irritation after a bikini wax, the risk of ingrown hair will be decreased. Much of this has to do with the fact that new growth will be composed of finer strands instead of coarse hair with sharp tips.
- Laser Hair Removal
This high-tech treatment removes unwanted hair by destroying follicles with pulses of laser light. Although re-growth eventually occurs after several months, laser hair removal can save you the hassle of shaving and recurring bouts of razor bumps. However, it can be quite expensive and you will require four to six sessions in order to kill hair in all phases of growth.