What Is A Razor Burn?
Anyone can have a razor burn – not only men who shave their facial hair, but women as well who shave hair from the various parts of their bodies – from head to toe – yes, sometimes you can find some hair on the toes!
When you see a red rash on the skin after you have removed the hair from that area – this is a razor burn. Not only will you see a red rash, and maybe sometimes slight skin removal, you can also experience:
- soreness over time
- a burning or hot sensation
- small red bumps
Getting razors burns is not limited to your obvious places but also on:
- your legs
- above the lips
- beard area (cheeks and chin)
- bikini area
- anal area
The razor burn discomfort will last for a few hours and then will go away over time, including whatever skin abrasion that was caused.
What Causes A Razor Burn?
There are a few factors that can cause razors burns. Let’s examine them and in turn, find the best way to handle them by prevention. I must quickly point out the fact that razor burns are not ONLY caused by the type of razor or the type of razor foaming agent that one uses – but there are other factors.
Here are some possible causes that can initiate razor burns:
- the obvious – dull razor or one too sharp
- shaving without using a moisturizing shaving product, foam, soap, oil, or water
- shaving against the direction of the hair growth
- using a dirty razor with matted hair, dried and caked-up product
- repeatedly shaving the same area too much
- shaving too fast
- not testing shaving products before using – this might cause allergic reactions or any form of irritation
This list is in no way complete but it does serve the purpose of heightening your awareness and preventing future razor burns due to the above-mentioned points.
How To Treat A Razor Burn?
Having looked at the possible causes of razor burns, finding the best solution is not too complicated, or shouldn’t be.
Basic Preventative Tips
Here are a few tips that should help you towards getting a smooth and pain-free shave:
- use new razors each time if you are using disposable ones. One use is about the best and then get rid of it.
- if using the traditional mechanical razor – use new blades each time. The temptation is there to use it as much as possible to ‘get your money’s worth’ but should you jeopardize your health for a few pennies on the dollar?
- find a moisturizing shaving product that softens the skin while preparing it to undergo the hair removal. One with an aloe vera base, coconut oil, or tea tree oil will be great.
- cleaning all shaving tools in warm soapy water after shaving and allowing them to dry before storing.
- always shave in the direction of the hair growth. When you go against the growth direction, this could result in ingrown hairs. And in the areas where it is not obvious to the general public, and in the other areas, it can look unsightly. I have seen ingrown hairs on the backs of heads near the hairline and it does not look pretty, especially when the skin starts to fold over and bulge outwards.
- avoid shaving the same area more than 3 times – twice is good when using a good razor. It is best to prepare the area with a warm towel first and then allowing the moisturizing product to ‘soak’ into the area before starting.
- exfoliate the area at least a day before shaving so that there won’t be too much ‘dead cells’ along with the hair to be removed or overly-sensitive skin.
OK, so you did all you could and still end up with razor burns, what now? Have no fear, I have a few suggestions to soothe the burn.
Treating the discomfort from razor burns:
- soothing the ‘burn’ or/and the itch – apply a cool washcloth to the area. Getting soak the washcloth in some cool water or cooled chamomile tea. You can even put the cooled tea bag on the area as well. Gently apply some aloe vera gel or arnica gel on the area – this will soothe and help heal the abrasion if any.
- apply some talc, cornstarch, aftershave lotion, or any soothing moisturizer to the area. Some natural suggestions are coconut oil, aloe vera gel, honey (dilute it a bit before applying), almond oil, calendula cream, or jojoba oil. These natural products have moisturizing properties.
- if the area becomes a bit inflamed, you can use OTC (over the counter) options or natural remedies – depending on the extent of your discomfort. Popular home remedies include arnica gel, apple cider vinegar, tea tree oil, witch hazel extract, and oatmeal bath. OTC options will include topical applications containing hydrocortisone which will help with the swelling.
- if you end up with razor bumps, it is advised not to shave the area until they heal on their own – this could take some time. Be careful of infection so it is best to wash the area daily and seek medical consultation if this happens. You might want to consider a topical cream as well.
Here are a few shaving tips that should come in handy for your future shaving experiences:
- try to follow a regular routine of exfoliation to help reduce dead cells build up.
- cleanse the area before shaving – wash your hair, shower – using warm water as this opens up the pores and makes the skin (scalp also) more pliable.
- try to resist the urge to pull on the skin while shaving.
- shave in the direction of the hair growth – if you are shaving your hair in the back of your head, maybe ask someone to help you if unable to get to a hair salon.
- cleanse the blade while shaving – don’t let the product and hair build up on the razor while you shave.
- after shaving, close the pores by applying a cool compress.
- change blades or razors often.
- try out shaving options like an electric razor, or even other safe hair removal options like creams.
Razor Burns And Razor Bumps – Close Cousins?
They are related and in no way are they the same. Razor burns are the result of improper shaving practices while razor bumps occur when hair that has been shaved grows back and grows back in on itself (ingrown hair) causing bumps which can be painful and sometimes infectious.
Razor bumps tend to be more common in people with curly hair because their hair has a natural curl while it grows and then has the tendency to curl back into the skin. A skin condition – pseudofolliculitis barbae – is what it is medically called when this happens. This condition occurs in up to ’60 percent of African American men and people with curly hair'. The condition, depending on its severity, will sometimes need medical consultation and possible treatment.
My Final Thoughts
Hair removal using any medium can be a source of pain and discomfort, one just has to do their due diligence and research to ensure that the outcome is the one they desire. I hope this article is useful and will help to make razor burns and razor bumps, a thing of the past.
If you have any tips, I would love your feedback.
 American Osteopathic College of Dermatology (AOCD)