There is nothing that feels quite as silky smooth as right after a fresh shave. That is until you wake up the next morning and realize you have razor bumps. Your instinct may be to search online for how to get rid of razor bumps. Well, nothing will make them disappear overnight, but there are ways you can speed up your recovery.
So, what exactly are you dealing with here? Also known as ingrown hairs, razor bumps refer to inflamed and irritated skin that can sometimes form after shaving. They occur when the strands of hair curl back on themselves and grow into the skin.
“The body recognizes the growing hair as a foreign body and mounts an inflammatory response, which is seen as a red or pus bump,” explains David C. Reid, MD, the chief of dermatology and associate professor at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. “Eventually, the body expels the hair via this inflammatory response, but this can take weeks to months.”
Common symptoms of razor bumps include itching, pain, pimples, and skin irritation. Razor bumps commonly appear around the face (like men’s beards), legs, pubic area, and underarms, but they can pop up anywhere on the body. No one is immune either, but they usually affect people with tightly curled hair or spiral hair strands.
The good news is razor bumps typically improve within two to three weeks. However, they can recur if you continue to shave, says Julia Mhlaba, MD, a dermatologist at Northwestern Medicine. If you really need to rid yourself of body hair (know that there's nothing wrong with leaving it on your body either!), try laser hair removal or waxing instead. If shaving is absolutely necessary, make sure to move your blade in the direction of the hair growth. You should also replace your razor blade frequently and always use shaving cream, notes Dr. Mhlaba.
That said, if you're already struggling with razor bumps, here are 10 at-home remedies to help you get rid of them fast.
Meet the experts: David C. Reid, MD, is the chief of dermatology at Rush University Medical Center. He a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology and has published numerous peer-reviewed articles and book chapters.
Julia Mhlaba, MD, is an assistant professor of dermatology at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine.
Anna H. Chacon, MD, is a dermatologist with a virtual practice that services patients across the country.
1. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is used in many medical creams for burns, cuts, and scrapes because it contains enzymes that help to reduce inflammation, making it an effective treatment for razor bumps as well as minor injuries, according to Anna H. Chacon, MD, a dermatologist who owns a virtual practice.
It is incredibly easy to use. Just squeeze it directly onto the skin, and if you want a cooling factor, just pop it in the fridge for a few minutes before using.
2. Baking Soda Paste
Believe it or not, baking soda paste has a cooling effect on the skin. You can easily whip up a batch of this soothing concoction at home. Mix one tablespoon of baking soda with one cup of lukewarm water until it thickens and apply it to the skin, says Dr. Chacon. Then, leave it on for about 20 minutes or until it dries, then rinse it off your skin thoroughly. Repeat this process twice a day until your razor bumps disappear.
3. Calendula Cream
Calendula cream soothes your skin by promoting the production of collagen, an essential protein for glowing skin, explains Dr. Chacon. This plant also aids in sustaining soothed, hydrated skin.
Before applying, cleanse the affected area with mild soap, then rinse and dry the irritated area thoroughly. Put a thin layer of calendula cream on once a day or twice a day until the razor bumps are gone, says Dr. Chacon.
4. Coconut Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, and Tea Tree Oil
Coconut oil has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties, while sweet almond oil is super soothing, which makes it a great moisturizer to soften your skin, according to Dr. Chacon. Tea tree oil, on the other hand, has an anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial effect and can heal minor wounds and soothe burns.
Look for expeller-pressed coconut oil and apply a thin layer to the inflamed area, says Dr. Chacon. Sweet almond oil can be used directly on the affected area as needed. If you want to try tea tree oil, use one to three drops diluted with one teaspoon of a carrier oil before applying. Do a patch test before applying to avoid irritating your skin further.
5. Colloidal Oatmeal Bath
Colloidal oatmeal, which is just a fancy term for ground-up oatmeal that has been made into a fine powder, contains phenol with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, says Dr. Chacon.
If you are trying to get rid of razor bumps, simply soak in a colloidal oatmeal bath once a day for 10 to 15 minutes.
Cold and warm compresses may help relax irritated skin, says Dr. Chacon. If you are particularly prone to razor bumps, applying a warm compress before shaving can help open your pores and loosen the hairs.
“These can include an aluminum acetate solution, saline, or simply warm water,” says Megha Trivedi, MD, an assistant professor of dermatology at Rush University Medical Center. A warm compress should be applied to razor bumps for 10 minutes, three times a day.
7. Hydrocortisone Cream
Hydrocortisone cream is a topical steroid used to reduce inflammation and irritation on the skin. It can be used as directed usually once a day or twice a day notes Dr. Chacon.
8. Witch Hazel
Witch hazel is commonly used as an astringent, as it contains tannin, which possesses anti-inflammatory properties. “It can soothe burns, relieve pain, and treat minor skin irritations,” says Dr. Chacon. Apply witch hazel to the affected area with a cotton pad as needed.
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