What are razor bumps?
Razor bumps, or ingrown hairs, are small, irritated bumps on the skin. They happen after you shave, when strands of hair curl back on themselves and grow into the skin. They cause irritation and pimples. They also may cause scarring.
Anyone can get them. They're most common in people with tightly curled or spiral hair strands.
What causes them?
Shaving, waxing, and plucking may cause razor bumps.
Hair removal products called depilatories do not cause razor bumps. But they can irritate the skin and should be used only once or twice a week.
Removing hair permanently with laser treatments doesn't cause razor bumps.
How are razor bumps treated?
The best way to treat razor bumps is to avoid shaving. Electric hair clippers are one option. Hair can also be removed with a chemical depilatory or by having laser hair removal.
If you see a razor bump forming, you may be able to use a clean needle to release the hair shaft. This usually stops a razor bump from growing.
If you start shaving again, razor bumps usually return. Waxing, plucking, and electrolysis aren't recommended since they can also cause bumps.
For severe razor bumps, you may need a special skin cream, such as hydrocortisone, antibiotic, or tretinoin cream.
How can you help prevent them?
These tips can help when you shave:
- Moisten your skin with water and mild soap first. This will soften the hair and open the pores.
- Use a thick shaving gel.
- Don't stretch the skin when you shave. Always shave in the direction the hair is growing. Use the fewest razor strokes possible. Rinse with cold water.
- Use an electric razor if you can adjust it to avoid the closest setting.
- After you shave, use a moisturizing cream.
Current as of: November 15, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Ellen K. Roh MD - Dermatology