Background: Pseudofolliculitis barbae (PFB) or shaving bumps is a foreign body inflammatory reaction involving papules and pustules. It primarily affects curly haired males who shave. It can also affect some white men and hirsute black women.
Pathophysiology: Two mechanisms are involved in the pathogenesis of PFB: (1) extrafollicular penetration occurs when a curly hair reenters the skin, and (2) transfollicular penetration occurs when the sharp tip of a growing hair pierces the follicle wall.
Some men who shave are predisposed to this condition because of their tightly curved hair. The sharp pointed hair from a recent shave briefly surfaces from the skin and reenters a short distance away. Several methods of close shaving result in a hair cut below the surface. These methods include:
1. Pulling the skin taut while shaving.
2. Shaving against the grain.
3. Plucking hairs with tweezers.
4. Removing hairs with electrolysis.
5. Using double- or triple-bladed razors.
The close shave results in a sharp tip below the skin surface, which is then more likely to pierce the follicular wall, causing PFB with transfollicular penetration.
Although usually not regarded as a serious medical problem, PFB can cause cosmetic disfigurement. The papules can lead to scarring, postinflammatory hyperpigmentation, secondary infection, and keloid formation.
The following steps may reduce your chance of suffering from razor bumps:
1. Make sure to get your hair very wet before shaving, ideally after taking a bath or shower. Use the Razoraid to dislodge any ingrown hairs followed by the application of a thick shaving gel.
2. Use a good shaving cream to reduce friction and irritation. Really work the shaving cream into your scalp for at least two minutes, and save areas that tend to develope bumps for last when you’re shaving, so that the shaving cream has longer to soften the hair.
3. Shave with the grain, not against it.
4. Don’t go over the same area more than twice.
5. Don’t stretch out your skin while shaving; let is stay neutral and relaxed. Stretching your skin while you shave increases the chance that the hair will ‘snap back’ to below skin level.
6. Replace your blade regularly. Shaving with a dull blade increases the chances of hair tearing unevenly.
7. Use a single-blade razor instead of a double- or triple-blade razor. The ‘lift and cut’ effect of multi-blade razors is something people with PFB should try to avoid.
Some people who suffer from razor bumps might prefer using a depilatory instead of a razor. Depilatories work by dissolving the hair so it can be washed off. The chemicals used in depilatories are strong, and may cause irritation.
If you’re already suffering from razor bumps, keep the following points in mind:
1. Before anything else, let your hair grow out for a while and give your skin a rest before shaving again (a minimum of three days).
2. Bumps can get infected fairly easily, so tend to them immediately. Using a local antibiotic will probably help, especially if there’s a cut.
3. Don’t pick at or squeeze bumps. That will tend to make things worse.
4. Use the Razoraid to dislodge your ingrown hairs.