Razor bumps: razor bumps occur in men after shaving

Razor bumps, also known as razor bumps and pseudofolliculitis barbae, are small bumps on the skin that develop after shaving. Razor bumps look a bit like pimples and can be painful. Over time, these seemingly small razor bumps can develop into permanent scar tissue. Razor bumps are characterized by red, itchy and sensitive bumps. Although many men may experience skin irritation after shaving, some men develop a chronic type of razor bump called Pseudofolliculitis Barbae, which is caused by ingrown hairs.

  • Causes
  • Synonyms
  • Types of razor bumps
  • Transfollicular hair
  • Extrafollicular hair
  • Symptoms of razor bumps after shaving
  • Phenomena
  • Location
  • Causes and risk factors
  • More men than women
  • Men with frizzy hair
  • Therapy
  • Home remedies for razor bumps
  • Aloe vera
  • Tea tree oil for razor bumps
  • Exfoliating scrub
  • Preventing bumps after shaving in men

 Pseudofolliculitis barbae / Source: Army Medical Department, Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)


Razor bumps are caused by shaving. When a hair is cut where it leaves the skin, it can curl back and grow back into the skin, right through the wall of a hair follicle. These ingrown hairs cause irritation of the hair follicle, which swells into a small red lump that looks a bit like a pimple. Using the right shaving technique can prevent or reduce razor bumps and ingrown hairs.


Razor bumps are also known as ‘razor bumps’ or by the medical term ‘pseudofolliculitis barbae’.

Types of razor bumps

There are actually two types of razor bumps: extrafollicular and transfollicular.

Transfollicular hair

The hair does not grow out of the hair follicle, but directly into the skin. This results in bumps, pimples, irritation and inflammation.

Extrafollicular hair

Extrafollicular means the hair twists and grows inward without completely leaving the skin.

Symptoms of razor bumps after shaving


Razor bumps involve the following symptoms:

  • raised, red bumps
  • itch
  • pain
  • darkening of the skin
  • small papules (firm, rounded bumps)
  • pustules (pus-filled, blister-like lesions)



Razor bumps can appear anywhere you shave. The most common places are:

  • face (particularly the chin, neck and the underside of the cheeks, near the jaws)
  • armpits
  • lies
  • legs


Causes and risk factors

The main cause of razor bumps is ingrown beard hairs and this is due to shaving the hair too short and frizzy hair.

More men than women

Men are more likely to get razor bumps than women. This is because men shave every day and because the skin on the face is a particularly sensitive part of the body. It turns out that 78% of men have experienced some form of irritation as a result of shaving, including razor bumps, red skin or soreness.

Men with frizzy hair

While only 20% of people with white skin color experience problems with razor bumps, as many as between 60 and 80% of black men suffer from them. This is because curly facial hair, especially frizzy hair, on black men is more likely to curl and grow back into the skin than more straight hair types. Men with curly facial hair are as much as 50 times more likely to suffer from razor bumps than men with non-curly hair.


It is often advised to shave the hair as little as possible, for example every few days, in order to prevent the formation of razor bumps as much as possible. It is advisable not to shave the hair too short and then a trim is a better option. You can also use soothing oils while shaving. Hair removal using the YAG laser may possibly offer a solution. However, laser therapy can lead to pigmentation changes in the area:

  • hyperpigmentation (dark discoloration)
  • hypopigmentation (loss of pigment).


Home remedies for razor bumps

Although prevention is the best method for dealing with razor bumps, the following natural remedies can help alleviate the symptoms.

Aloe vera

Aloe vera has an antibacterial, soothing, moisturizing and anti-inflammatory effect. It helps to quickly and effectively reduce itching, inflammation and redness caused by razor bumps.Tea tree oil / Source: Optima

Tea tree oil for razor bumps

Tea tree oil has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. It opens the pores, loosens the ingrown hair and soothes the redness and inflammation of the razor bumps. Mix 10-15 drops of tea tree oil in a bowl of warm water. Soak a washcloth in the bowl and apply the cloth to the affected area for 30 minutes. Repeat a few times a day, if necessary.

Exfoliating scrub

Gently cleanse the affected area to remove dead skin cells that can clog pores. You can use a mild exfoliator or you can mix sugar and olive oil together to make a DIY paste. Rub the exfoliator or massage it in a circular motion over the affected area for five minutes. Rinse with warm water.

Preventing bumps after shaving in men

There are a number of measures you can take to prevent razor bumps, such as:

  • Do not shave the hairs too short.
  • Shave in the direction of hair growth rather than against the grain. Shaving in the same direction as the direction of the hair prevents irritation.
  • Use non-irritating shaving cream.
  • Use plenty of foam to protect the skin.
  • Use an electric shaver.
  • Trimming instead of shaving.
  • Do not pull on the skin while shaving.
  • Shave less often.
  • Replace your razor regularly.
  • Exfoliate with retinoids, glycolic or salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxides.
  • Moisten the skin with warm water to open the pores before shaving.
  • Always use a sharp razor blade in a high-quality shaver.
  • After shaving, press a cold, damp cloth against your face to close the pores again.


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