Preventing Razor Bumps

How To Prevent Razor Bumps From Ruining Your Shave

Razor Bumps, aka Folliculitis, the enemy of man’s desire for a clean shave. You want to know what causes it and how to abolish the assault on your facial hair follicles! That brings us to the what.

Hair Follicles, the sea of tiny sacs that produce individual strands of hair and hopefully a nice, full, shiny coat of man-hair on your face. However, when infected and inflamed, we call that follicu-litis. Now let’s pause for a second because I often hear people complain about the use of medical terms but in some cases it’s necessary. For example, a lot of folk call any and all skin conditions, eczema. But eczema is a form of dermatitis and there are various types with different causes, different effects and require different solutions. See where I’m going here. We cannot lump all skin issues in one box and try to treat them with one solutions. That’s why you hear people say they’ve tried everything and nothing worked! Well, have you tried identifying the actual source of the problem. We call that root cause. Some conditions can be dealt with at the skin level and others must be addressed internally. See. Ok, back to follicu…razor bumps.

Razor Bumps | Folliculitis Classifications

Folliculitis is the group of skin conditions (see how they lump it all together) that identify inflamed hair follicles. It looks a bit like acne or a small boil. The result is a tender red spot, with a surface pustule. It can occur anywhere on the body where there are hairs, including chest, back, buttocks, groin, etc.

Type 1: Folliculitis barbae is a type of folliculitis affecting the beard area due to infection with the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus. Yep, staph but worry not, there’s all types of staph living on your skin and it occurs whether you shave or not. Deep-seated folliculitis barbae is called sycosis barbae; this type leads to scarring and patchy areas of permanent hair loss. It could be the reason that your beard is thinning out. We’ll come back to this.

Type 2: Pseudofolliculitis barbae is second type of folliculitis. It’s an inflammatory reaction to ingrown facial hairs. This one is also known as shaving rash, barber’s itch, razor bumps and ingrown hair. This type can also occur on any other area of the body where hair is shaved or plucked, including the armpit, pubic area, and legs.

Pseudofolliculitis barbae can be divided into two types of ingrown hairs: (1) hair that has exited the follicle and reentered the skin (extrafollicular) and (2) hair that never exits the follicle (transfollicular), but because of its naturally coarse and curly nature, it grows back into the follicle causing fluid build-up, inflammation and irritation.

Potential Causes of Type 1: Folliculitis barbae

What cause ingrown hair and/or razor bumps?

  • dead skin clogging hair follicles
  • bacteria like Staphylococcus aureuson the skin or tools used to shave (Folliculitis barbae)
  • coarse, dry hair
  • dry shaving
  • reusing disposable razors (hygiene)

Folliculitis Barbae and Pseudofolliculitis can certainly co-exist together. It may not be an either or, you may suffer from both! However, Pseudofolliculitis is most common in individuals with coarse, wiry hair. The reason for this is, coarse hair is often curly and when it grows, it tends to curl into the skin instead of growing straight out the follicle, leading to an inflammatory response. The result is itchy, red and pimpled skin. Acne like pustules can also form if the area becomes infected.

Razor Bump Prevention

Use skin care products that contain bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus) fighting essential oil (like ours). I’ve listed a few common oils BODYTRUTH brand essential oilbelow, however, the list is longer for advanced essential oil blenders and users:

  • Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree essential oil)
  • Salvia officinalis (Sage essential oil)
  • Thymus vulgaris (Thyme essential oil)
  • Pogostemon Cablin (Patchouli essential oil)
  • Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary essential oil)
  • Foeniculum vulgare dulce (Fennel essential oil)

Exfoliate. Exfoliate your skin by using a gentle organic scrub (sugar does a fine job) or small bristle brush before shaving to help to remove dead skin and loosen coarse hair’s curl pattern. By doing so, both before and between shaves, you can effectively free trapped hair out and away from the skin before the hair has a chance to embed itself.

Consider changing shaving techniques. Since we know that getting too close of a shave can create an ingrown hair problem (sad, I know), you may need to ditch the multi-blade disposable razor. This razor type is designed to lift the hair slightly before cutting, to give a closer, longer lasting shave but for those with coarse hair, it may also be a factor in the ingrown hair problem.

Clean your tools, brushes, rags, razors, especially your electric razor. If you use this type of razor, I’d suggest using drops of tea tree oil on the blades before and after shaving. Tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) kills a host of staph types. If you’re getting your electric shave at the barbershop, it would be in your best interest to have a conversation with him/her to find out about how he/she maintains the equipment used to shave you. It may seem rude, but your skin is more important than the ‘perceived’ offense of asking.

It may be time to get acquainted with the straight razor! The fact is, if you have coarse curly hair and that hair is cut below the skin’s surface, when that hair begins to grow, it can begin curling slightly before it reaches the surface, missing the original exit point, in an attempt to create a new one. This leads to unsightly hair bumps.

Do not dry-shave, no matter how convenient it is; it isn’t pleasant. Not only are razor bumps a potential but razor burn is almost instant. Properly prep and protect skin with a pre shaving cream, foam or a shaving soap to soften skin and hair, making the shave easier.

Establish a good shaving routine using products with ingredients that protect the skin and not just ease the process of shaving.

Our Solution To Razor Bumps

We have teamed up with Master barber and shop owner, Robert Terry of Crisp Cuts (Lenexa, KS) to bring holistic barbering solutions to you. Our soon-to-be released to the public, 4-step shaving line, branded under STYLES, Fine Hair & Beard Care gives you an amazing shaving experience.

razor bumps prevention | STYLES FINE HAIR & BEARD CARE

STYLES PREMIUM HAIR & BEARD CARE 

(1) prepares the skin with a 100% organic, antibacterial pre-shave oil
(2) provides a smooth, bump-free shave with our house-made therapeutic, organic shaving bars
(3) treats and seals the skin with our aftershave h20 which includes aloe and skin smoothing alpha hydroxy
(4) moisturizes and protects with a bacteria fighting balm.

Our product line features organic ingredients to help your skin look its best!

Our brands are designed to soften skin and hair, helping to minimize re-entry of coarse hairs. They contain bacteria fighting essential oils that help keep skin clear; and protected from damage and discoloration.

Skin is the body’s largest organ and we often advise individuals to eliminate the use of products containing synthetic ingredients and fragrance (parfum) as they: (1) contain cancer causing ingredients, formaldehyde, formaldehyde-releasers and hormone disruptors; (2) are known to cause irritation; (3) create or exacerbate eczema; (4) and can contribute to unsightly discoloration (darkening). Stick with natural products with ingredients that get as close to the source as possible, preferably a plant-source.

Often people aren’t easily convinced so instead of rehashing information that’s already readily available, I challenge you to (1) investigate the ingredients in your products and (2) do a simple search on fragrance oil and skin-health.

Whatever steps you take, remember to treat your skin kindly with chemical-free products as much as you can.

Resources

Modric, J. (n.d.). Folliculitis Pictures. Retrieved March 28, 2017, from http://www.healthhype.com/folliculitis-pictures.html

Oakley, A., MD, & Gomez, J., MD. (2016, July). Folliculitis barbae and pseudofolliculitis barbae. Retrieved March 28, 2017, from http://www.dermnetnz.org/topics/folliculitis-barbae/

Swamy, Mallappa Kumara, Mohd Sayeed Akhtar, and Uma Rani Sinniah. “Antimicrobial Properties of Plant Essential Oils against Human Pathogens and Their Mode of Action: An Updated Review.” Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : eCAM 2016 (2016): 3012462. PMC. Web. 28 Mar. 2017.

What's Causing Your Heat Rash

What’s Causing Your Heat Rash?

As I have discussed before, I learn a great deal of valuable information from interacting with my skin care community; that in large includes my customers.

Recently when I temporarily discontinued my dark chocolate patchouli soap, it was brought to my attention that it had been a customer’s go to for preventing the onset of heat rash. I decided to research it so that I could better understand what it was about the soap that prevented the outbreak. I’m glad I did.

Heat rash is a most uncomfortable thing to deal with and, according to the New Zealand Dermatological Society¹ , once it’s triggered, an attack of miliaria profunda commonly lasts 5-6 weeks despite the best treatment that can be offered. It is because the plugs formed in the sweat duct openings can only be expelled by the outward growth of the sweat duct cells, which takes several weeks. Therefore, from that standpoint, the best treatment is prevention.

Armed with the information I received from my customer and that uncovered via research, I set out to discover what it is or was in my soap that helped prevent the outbreak. It’s good to know that something works; but it’s better to understand why it or how it works.

G.H. Soaps Ingredient - Patchouli

Patchouli Plant

G.H. Soaps Ingredient - Cacao (Raw Chocolate)

Cacao – Raw Chocolate

What is Heat Rash

miliaria | heat rash

cause Staphylococcus epidermidis (a pathogen); Staphylococci are common bacterial colonizers of the skin and mucous membranes

Heat Rash, caused by Staphylococcus epidermidis (S. epidermidis), also termed Miliaria, is a common disorder of the eccrine sweat glands that often occurs in conditions of increased heat and humidity. Miliaria is thought to be caused an increase in certain normal Staphylococcus epidermidis bacteria which live on the skin. These bacteria produce a sticky substance (biofilm)which blocks the sweat ducts. Leakage of sweat through the walls of the duct behind the block is then responsible for the outbreak. Unlike acne and other forms of folliculitis (razor bumps), miliaria spots do not arise around the hair follicles.

There are four types of Miliaria:

  • Miliaria crystallina or sudamina: caused by obstruction of the sweat ducts close to the surface of the skin and appears as tiny superficial clear blisters that break easily.
  • Miliaria rubra: or prickly heat occurs deeper in the epidermis (outside layer of skin) and results in very itchy red papules (bumps).
  • Miliaria profunda: is the effect of sweat leaking into the dermis (middle layer of skin) causing deep and intensely uncomfortable, prickling, red lumps.
  • Miliaria pustulosa: pustules caused by inflammation and bacterial infection.

The bacterium can cause serious complications. It is one of the many microorganisms that live on the human skin and are either harmless or beneficial – as long they are in balance with other microorganisms. When the balance between the microorganisms is disrupted, they can cause various skin diseases. They can also enter the bloodstream and cause potentially fatal complications, and Staphylococcus epidermidis is one of those microorganisms of the skin flora that can be very dangerous.

Prevention & Treatment

Prevention and treatment seem incomplete. While there is much research regarding S. epidermidis’, there is a lack of knowledge offered to the public in terms of successful prevention and management (outside of its symptoms). And because S. epidermidis is part of the human normal flora, it has developed resistance to many common antibiotics. It seems however, most treatments are aimed at relieving sufferers from the symptoms after the onset as opposed to effective, sustainable prevention.

It is noted that antimicrobial agents are effective in suppressing experimentally induced miliaria, meaining in vitro or in a controlled environment. However, it is obvious that prevention is attainable in human hosts as well. The search led me to several articles in my favorite database, the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Combing through several articles, medical journals and manuscripts helped me to better understand why the soap was effective at preventing miliaria for my customer.

The soap contained a generous amount of patchouli essential oil. Patchouli’s main constituent is Patchoulol: 32.92%. As noted in another post, the antimicrobial impacts of essential oils and their chemical components have been recognized by several researchers for their efficacy against various human pathogens. Essential oils derived from aromatic medicinal plants have been reported to exhibit exceptionally good antimicrobial effects against bacteria, yeasts, filamentous fungi, and viruses. Because of this, essential oils are recognized as having great potential in the field of biomedicine as they effectively destroy several bacterial, fungal, and viral pathogens. The presence of different types of aldehydes, phenolics, terpenes, and other antimicrobial compounds means that the essential oils are effective against a diverse range of human pathogens. 

I also landed upon another interesting article by Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine², which lists various essential oils and their antibacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal activity against human pathogens, including Staphylococcus epidermidis. There is much information reported, but in summary, it identified several, common plant oils that could be very effective at preventing miliaria: garlic oil, tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia), clove oil (Eugenia caryophyllata), pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium), rosemary oil (Rosmarinus officinalis) and thyme oil (Thymus kotschyanus). Research in alternative medicine brings hope to those suffering from miliaria. The idea that handmade skin care with powerful essential oils could aid in the fight against outbreaks is even more profound, especially when antibiotics are the only presented alternative.

I was enlightened by this experience as I learned what causes heat rash and why my product worked. I also understand the distress that likely occurs when there is no solution for heat rash at hand, like the temporary discontinuation. Because my customer shared with me her challenge, I was able to learn more about this bacteria. It also helps G.H. Soaps to provide better and continual solutions. This is exactly how our company came to be so thank you for your continued support and for the gift that keeps on giving, knowledge.

Please note that G.H. Soaps does not give medical advice. The information on this website has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease. It is public information, researched, collected, gathered, shared and commented on.

Resources

Kalemba D, Kunicka A. Antibacterial and antifungal properties of essential oils. Curr Med Chem. 2003 May;10(10):813-29. Review. PubMed PMID: 12678685.

Mallappa Kumara Swamy, Mohd Sayeed Akhtar, and Uma Rani Sinniah, “Antimicrobial Properties of Plant Essential Oils against Human Pathogens and Their Mode of Action: An Updated Review,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2016, Article ID 3012462, 21 pages, 2016. doi:10.1155/2016/3012462

Reichling J, Schnitzler P, Suschke U, Saller R, Essential Oils of Aromatic Plants with Antibacterial, Antifungal, Antiviral, and Cytotoxic Properties – an Overview. Complement Med Res 2009;16:79-90

Staphylococcus epidermidis: emerging resistance and need for alternative agents. Raad I, Alrahwan A, Rolston K.
Clin Infect Dis. 1998 May;26(5):1182-7. Review.

Why Your Skin Is Inflamed & How To Combat It

Why Skin Inflammation Can Be Serious & How To Combat It

Inflammation

Firstly, inflammation is both a signal and a process indicating the body is under stress and is attempting to heal. As a self-maintaining system our bodies are always seeking self-preservation. It inherently seeks to remove harmful, foreign and toxic material like damaged cells, irritants, chemicals and bacteria and thus begin the healing process. 

Short-term inflammation is good for us. It actually helps us heal. The problem is that a lot of us are under constant stress and are thus walking around with chronic inflammation. This is inflammation inside the body that doesn’t actually go away, but exists at a low somewhat tolerant level, gradually causing damage. The bigger issue becomes the failure to address or discover the underlying causes.

Inflamed Skin

Inflammation of the skin is highly likely the effect of internal stress. Where you have an effect or symptom, there is most certainly an underlying cause. Thus the signs and symptoms of skin related inflammation, as listed below, are indicative of an underlying issue. 

  • Acne (inflammation)
  • Redness
  • Rashes (inflammation)
  • Fine lines and wrinkles
  • Sagging and bagging
  • Irritation, itching
  • Rosacea (inflammation)
  • Eczema (inflammation)
  • Dermatitis (inflammation)
  • Psoriasis (inflammation)

Causes of Skin Inflamation

What causes long-term inflammation?

Underlying health issues that are chronic in nature, candida, digestive issues and such conditions are often root causes of the various health issues that become chronic and affect other areas of the body. Inflammation is certainly a symptom.

Intestinal parasites, a topic many avoid but these little guys have the ability to take over your body (host) and wreck havoc on your system. They affect the entire set of systems, organs included. Parasites feed on the host and release toxins that lead to many health challenges and is often a precursor for candidiasis (which is a precursor for other diseases, including cancer). This too causes inflammation, such as eczema, chronic dry heels, chronic dry, brittle hair & nails and stiff, painful joints.

Chronic environmental conditions, toxins, pollution and lack of sleep contribute to inflammation. Studies have even found that poor sleep quality was associated with higher levels of inflammation and weight gain. Chronic conditions also adversely impact the body’s ability to heal itself.

Diseases or disorders like asthma, arthritis, gum disease, ulcers, fibromyalgia and other autoimmune diseases, and many more.

Stress causes the body to release cortisol, which over the long-term, can cause chronic inflammation.

Diet, scientific studies have shown that fatty foods, fried foods, refined sugar, and refined carbohydrates can all increase levels of internal inflammation. All of these issues can seem to be isolated, yet they are intertwined. The body has many systems but they all work together in synergy. A disruption in one can cause a disruption in all; and any one of the issues in the list aforementioned, can lead to internal inflammation—which of course, affects the skin! Skin challenges are more than skin deep!

Reducing Skin Inflammation

Combating Skin Inflammation With Food

You can begin to change the condition by changing what you eat! Not only can diet changes help counteract the ‘effects’ of stress, lack of sleep, and exposure to pollutants, but they’ll help provide your skin with the nutrients it needs to begin to repair itself.  Here are 8 foods that you can start adding to your diet today!

  1. Tart cherries: In a 2012 study, researchers from Oregon Health & Science University stated that tart cherries had the highest anti-inflammatory content of any food. It is often recommended by doctors for arthritis and gout (inflammation) as well. I like to buy tart, unsweetened dried cherries and eat them right out of the bag. I also add frozen dark cherries to vanilla yogurt (pre/probiotic) for a quick snack.
  2. Turmeric: This super spice is currently being studied for a number of wonderful things, including its potential anti-cancer activity. A key ingredient in curry, it contains a compound called “curcumin” that has been found to act as an anti-inflammatory in humans. A 2003 study review, for instance, found that curcumin inhibited a number of different molecules that play a role in inflammation. It may seem like an unusual root but turmeric is quite delicious. I juice them along with carrots and celery for a daily power drink! I also use fresh pressed carrot and turmeric juice in one of our seasonal handmade soaps. Turmeric is also a key ingredient in a very tasty Ayurvedic tea called Golden Milk. I make mine with vanilla flax milk for extra omega 3 benefits!
  3. Olive & Hemp seed Oil: These oils, like many natural oils, are rich in essential fatty acids, which help hydrate and fortify skin. (One of the reasons we use so many natural oils in our products!) A 2010 study found that the oil has a balanced combination of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which help reduce overall inflammation.
  4. Walnuts: Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, walnuts have been found in human studies to help lower the level of inflammation in the body. In the study, participants consumed an ounce of walnuts and a tablespoon of walnut oil a day for about six weeks. Results showed that their inflammation levels declined significantly. I eat walnuts right from the bag but they are great crushed and added to a protein shake (in the blender of course), or added to bowl of steel cut oats with diced banana and a drizzle of maple!
  5. Wild Caught Salmon: According to Dr. Mercola, the best type of omega-3 fats are those found in fish. That’s because the omega-3 in fish is high in two fatty acids that are vital to our health, DHA and EPA. These two fatty acids are pivotal in preventing heart disease, cancer, and many other diseases. Salmon, in particular, possesses one of the highest omega-3 contents.Omega-3 fatty acids have many critical biological functions because they are a primary element of health for virtually every cell and organ system in the body. In proper proportions with omega-6 fatty acids, they keep our bodies in balance, managing and reducing inflammation (joints and skin), blood pressure, and improving immune response, among other important functions. Since omega-3-rich salmon is a natural anti-inflammatory food, eating this delicious fish on a regular basis is a great way to keep your skin radiant. I personally trust and recommend none other than Vital Choice for high quality salmon and salmon oil.
  6. Probiotic Supplements & Fermented Foods: You can add kefir, sauerkraut, miso, and kombucha tea to this category, as they all contain healthy probiotics—those oh so hard working organisms that feed the healthy bacteria in your gut. Studies have shown that not only do they improve digestion, they lower inflammation. A 2009 study, for example, reported that probiotics could actually reduce the severity of atopic dermatitis. A later 2011 study reported that participants who had inflammatory conditions like psoriasis had lower levels of inflammation after eight weeks of taking probiotics. Consult your doctor for recommendations on which form to take, how much and for how long.
  7. Cruciferous Veggies: Not only are they full of protective antioxidants, but they are excellent at reducing inflammation. A 2010 study, for example, found that eating broccoli for only 10 days cut inflammation by nearly half! Other cruciferous veggies, like cauliflower, cabbage & brussel sprouts have similar anti-inflammatory effects. Cruciferous veggies may seem boring (I thought so too), but a quick saute in a pan with olive oil and freshly grated garlic really transforms cruciferous veggies. A bit of tomato adds nice balance.
  8. Onions & Garlic: You can add chives, shallots, and leeks to this category as they all were found to help reduce inflammation in a 2011 study. A 2012 study found that fresh onion juice inhibited pain and inflammation, helping to reduce swelling in wounds. Subsequently, a 2014 study reported that garlic may act as both as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Garlic is also highly anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, and more likely to attack the root cause of inflammation because it has a direct impact on intestinal yeast. Garlic is most effective when ingested raw. These powerful herbs are easy to incorporate into meals, whether paleo or vegan, garlic and onions have their rightful place at the table with any meal.

This article doesn’t get deep into the inflammation causing issues highlighted in the list above, because it would take many articles to examine this topic. However, this does bring the awareness to you for further research, so consider it food for thought. The good thing is that the research has been done and is easy to locate, it just takes time to assimilate, especially when you’ve been accustomed to doing things a certain way your entire life. Most people need time to research, meditate on their own health challenges and experiment with making small changes over time.

Do keep in mind that if you have gut issues like IBS or leaky gut, the underlying causes listed above are absolutely worth researching and discussing with a doctor; however, the list of 7 foods may actually be intolerable for your gut, a conversation for another article.

Since most of my community (including customers) deal with eczema and other skin issues, I spend a lot of time researching medical journals and alternative medicine, combining that knowledge with what I have already gained as an herbalist.

If I had to offer a few take-aways to get you started in your research concerning skin inflammation and underlying chronic conditions. I would begin with:

  1. candida & candidiasis
  2. intestinal yeast
  3. parasites
  4. gut (intestinal) health
  5. gmo foods, pesticides and glyphosate

Comments: Share in the discussion by posting questions or comments that can be of value to the community at large. The more we share, the more we learn. The more we learn, the many we can help!

Be well!


Sources:

Aggarwal, B. B., Yuan, W., Li, S. and Gupta, S. C. (2013), Curcumin-free turmeric exhibits anti-inflammatory and anticancer activities: Identification of novel components of turmeric. Mol. Nutr. Food Res., 57: 1529–1542. doi:10.1002/mnfr.201200838

“ALA-rich walnuts reduce inflammation, shows small study,” Nutraingredients.com, November 9, 2004, http://www.nutraingredients.com/Research/ALA-rich-walnuts-reduce-inflammation-shows-small-study.

Beauchamp, G.K., Keast, R.S.J., Morel, D., Lin, J.,Pika, J., Han, Q., Lee, C-H, Smith, A.B. III, Breslin, P.A.S.Ibuprofen-like activity in extra-virgin olive oil. Nature, 2005, 437,45-6.

Chainani-Wu N., “Safety and anti-inflammatory activity of curcumin: a component of turmeric (Curcuma longa),” J Altern Complement Med., February 2003; 9(1):161-8, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12676044.

Delfin Rodriguez-Leyva and Grant N. Pierce, “The cardiac and haemostatic effects of dietary hempseed,” Nutrition & Metabolism, 2010; 7(32): 10.1186/1743-7075-7-32, http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.com/content/7/1/32.

IBS Treatment Center | https://ibstreatmentcenter.com/ibs/intestinal-bacteria-yeast-candida-and-parasites

Lomax AR, Calder PC, “Probiotics, immune function, infection and inflammation: a review of the evidence from studies conducted in humans,” Curr Pharm Des, 2009; 15(13):1428-518, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19442167.

Monell Chemical Senses Center. “Olive Oil Contains Natural Anti-inflammatory Agent.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 September 2005.

Rachael Rettner, “Probiotics May Lower Inflammation and Treat Diseases,” LiveScience, October 31, 2011, http://www.livescience.com/35945-probiotics-good-bacteria-inflammation.html.