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How Long Do Razor Bumps Last?

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Razor bumps can be uncomfortable and unsightly, but they usually disappear on their own within a few weeks. If you suffer from frequent razor bumps, follow our skincare advice to soothe the irritation and help your skin to heal. And take our tips to improve your shaving routine and make razor bumps less likely.

For many men, the experience of razor bumps is an unpleasant and common one. This unsightly and uncomfortable condition may not appear as quickly after your daily shave as razor burn, but it can be even more troublesome. So if you’re someone who suffers from razor bumps on a regular basis, what can you do about it…?

As it turns out, quite a lot. Read on to learn more about the causes of razor bumps and what you can do to treat them – and even stop them from occurring in the first place.

What causes razor bumps?

Unlike razor burn, which is usually caused by poor shaving technique or a blunt blade, razor bumps are the result of your own facial hair irritating your skin. But even so, there are lots you can do to soothe bumps and prevent them from recurring.

At one point or another, you’ll have experienced the redness and irritation of razor burn. It typically shows up either immediately after a shave or as long as a few hours afterwards. On the other hand, razor bumps (sometimes called barber’s itch) may take a few days to develop.

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As your facial hair grows in the days following a shave, it may sometimes curl inwards rather than poking through the surface of the skin. This is more likely to occur if you’ve got curly or coarse hair. For this reason, razor bumps are particularly common for African-American and Hispanic men.

When this happens, the ingrown hair causes an unsightly bump to appear on the surface of the skin. There may also be an accumulation of pus beneath the surface at the site of the bump. Unlike the more superficial irritation of razor burn, bumps can take several weeks to resolve.

What are the symptoms of razor bumps?

While the main symptom of this condition is the bump itself, you may also experience pain or itching at the local site. Some men also find that the skin in that area becomes darkened, or that pus-filled bumps appear on the surface.

For some men, razor bumps are an occasional irritant to deal with. They fade away on their own for over a week or two and are gone.

For others though, these bumps can be an ongoing challenge. If the texture or type of your facial hair predisposes you to razor bumps, you may find that they appear after almost every shave.

This is troublesome enough, but repeated cycles of irritation and healing on your face can result in scarring of the tissue.

How can I get rid of razor bumps?

If you’re lucky enough to find that your razor bumps resolve on their own with little intervention, then there’s no need to be concerned by this common skin condition. But if you’re experiencing repeated bouts of bumps after most shaves, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Try A Cold Compress

As with razor burn, the itchiness and discomfort of razor bumps can be considerably reduced with a simple cold compress. Wet a face flannel or small towel under the cold tap, wring out the excess water, and then place the cloth directly over the affected area.

No matter how much your skin is driving you to distraction, take care not to rub the surface of the skin with the cloth. Your skin is already irritated, so take care to avoid further aggravating it yourself.

Just rest the cloth for a minute or so on the part of your face that’s affected. Adjust the positioning periodically if the irritation affects a wide area. However, if you’re suffering from more than a mild case you may need a little more cold to remedy the condition.

In this case, after wetting the cloth, place it inside a resealable plastic bag (the kind you might use for a packed lunch) and leave it in the fridge for 10-30 minutes. Then remove the bag from the fridge and place it against the skin for immediate relief.

You can obviously use ice for a cold compress, but be sure to place it inside your resealable bag before putting it against your skin. Ice can cause burns to bare skin.

Treat Your Skin

If you’re looking for additional treatments to address your razor bumps and soothe sensitive skin, consider an over-the-counter product containing extracts of the aloe vera plant. This desert-dwelling succulent is rich in water and can be very soothing to the skin. Look for a gel or cream that has concentrated extracts of this versatile plant.

Another natural remedy for irritation to the skin is witch hazel. This shrub is common to North America and East Asia and has long been used in traditional treatments for a number of conditions. In the case of razor bumps, witch hazel is very effective in reducing irritation and calming inflammation. As with aloe vera, you’ll find a variety of gels and creams that include witch hazel.

Lastly, tea-tree oil has been used for centuries as a traditional antiseptic and antibacterial. This is because the oil that is extracted from the leaves of this small Australian tree is naturally rich in compounds that fight and prevent infection. Search the shelves of your favorite drugstore and you’ll find skincare products that contain active ingredients derived from tea-tree oil.

Alternatively, you can purchase a bottle of concentrated tea-tree oil and mix up your own treatment. Simply add ten or so drops of the oil to a small bowl of warm water and stir the mixture. Then soak a clean face cloth in the bowl, squeeze out the excess liquid, and gently apply the cloth to the affected areas of your face and neck.

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Tea Tree oil has been used for generations to effectively soothe red and inflamed skin

How to prevent razor bumps

By now you know some of the best ways to treat your razor bumps. But what can you do to minimize or completely prevent their recurrence? Read on for some best practices:

Exfoliate your skin

Razor bumps are mostly caused by in-growing hairs irritating the skin. But keep in mind that inflammation of the hair follicle can also be caused or exacerbated by the uneven shedding of cells from the outer layer of the skin.

If razor bumps are an ongoing problem, you may want to consider adding a mild exfoliant to your weekly routine. You can use a mild exfoliating wash from your local supermarket or drugstore that will help to buff away dead skin from the surface of your face and make clogged pores less likely to occur.

Prepare your face

Some men find that a steam or warm compress before shaving can make razor burn and bumps less frequent. Both will open the pores and soften the facial hair, and this will lead to an easier shave that is less irritating.

At the very least, splash some warm water on your face for a few minutes before you start to shave and you can enjoy many of these benefits with little extra effort. Wipe off with a washcloth to remove dead skin cells.

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Splashing water on your face will go a surprisingly long way to reducing irritation later down the line

Perfect your technique

Even if you’ve been shaving for years, your technique with a blade can play a big role in irritating the skin or causing razor bumps. Like most men, you probably feel like your routine is pretty solid, but it’s still worth revisiting the basics.

You’re probably already aware of the importance of using a high-quality shaving cream or gel, but make sure to re-apply the product if you need to return to a stubborn area. One of the main causes of skin irritation after shaving results from applying a blade to bare skin.

Take care also to shave in the direction of your beard grain, rather than against it. Your shave may not be as close, but you’re also much less likely to irritate the skin or provoke bumps. You may even want to consider shaving every other day so your face has time to recover. Avoid shaving over the same area more than once to help reduce razor burn.

Take care to shave in the direction of your hair growth

At the very least, try to leave at least half a millimeter of hair on your beard to minimize the chance of bumps. And despite what you see in the movies, resist the temptation to pull your skin flat as you take strokes with your razor. This habit makes it more likely that you’ll suffer from in-growing hair as your beard develops.

And don’t forget to replace your razor blade regularly. Repeated shaving with a blunt or rusty razor is only going to irritate the skin and increase the chance of razor bumps (or worse). For most men, the blade should be changed after 5-7 shaves, but this will depend upon the thickness of your beard and how aggressively you shave.

When to seek medical advice

For many razor bump sufferers, these simple remedies will be enough to effectively treat their symptoms. For others, it may be time to call in expert medical advice. In some cases, an underlying bacterial or fungal infection may need appropriate treatment from a dermatologist. The medical term for razor bumps is pseudofolliculitis barbae (PFB).