Justin Creel, MD, FAAD
Pseudofolliculitis barbae (PFB) is a common skin condition that occurs as the result of ingrown hairs. Better known as razor bumps, these spots develop when strands of hair curl back on themselves and grow into the skin. They often look or feel like pimples and can affect anyone with curly hair or poor shaving habits. Further, these bumps can be aggravated by friction, sweat, and dirt – yay for our hot humid climate of South Louisiana and Mississippi!
The key to controlling PFB is to minimize hair re-entry into the skin. This is accomplished by reducing the sharpness of hair tips and maintaining a more tolerable length of hair. As such, the absolute best therapy is to avoid shaving altogether – though, of course, this isn’t always a practical solution. For areas that you do shave, consider an electric razor and avoid using the “shortest cut” settings. Alternatively, for areas and circumstances that require the use of razor blades, see below for tips and tricks to help optimize your shave!
Ideally, your shave should always take place in a hot and humid setting. This reduces razor friction and improves blood flow to the skin. This can be accomplished with any of the following techniques:
- Shave while in the bath or shower with hot water actively running (BEST option – aka ‘wet shave’).
- Soak area for 5-10 minutes with a hot bath or shower, and shave immediately after.
- Cover area with hot damp towels for 10-15 minutes, and shave before skin is allowed to dry or cool.
When preparing to shave, your goal should be to unclog follicles and remove debris and bacteria.
- Use a loofah or bath sponge to gently exfoliate the area.
- Cleanse with an over-the-counter benzoyl peroxide wash (2.5% for face or 10% for other areas). Leave soap on skin for 1-2 minutes before rinsing.
- Choose a single-blade razor that is both sharp and clean for every use. For severe or stubborn cases, some patients benefit from specialized razors such as the PFB Bump Fighter® Razor that are designed to cut hair at a more tolerable length.
- Lather generously with soap or lubricant of choice (ie shaving cream/butter/foam). Be sure area remains warm and moist throughout shave. Reapply as needed.
- Use long, gliding strokes that are oriented “with the grain” or in the same same direction as your hairs.
- Strive to cut hairs flush with the surrounding skin and NOT below its surface. Avoid pulling skin and do not apply excessive pressure or force to your razor. Use as few passes possible.
- Rinse thoroughly with cold cold water until all soap and debris is adequately removed.
- Apply aftershave product of your preference. Avoid harsh astringents or other alcohol-based products. Speak to your dermatologist about recommended or prescription products.
- Moisturize the area throughout the day. Avoid excessive friction or irritation (wear loose-fitting clothes, etc). Strive to keep area clean and dry for ~24 hours after, especially if skin folds involved.
For more information or to schedule your appointment, please call our office at 225.654.1124!