Folliculitis, Razor Bumps, and Ingrown Hair

Folliculitis names the group of skin conditions in which there are inflamed hair follicles. The result is a tender red spot, often with a surface pustule. It can occur anywhere on the body where there are hairs, including chest, back, buttocks, arms and legs. According to DermNet New Zealand, acne and its variants are also types of folliculitis.

Folliculitis barbae is a type of folliculitis affecting the beard area due to infection with the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus. It occurs in men who shave and in men that do not shave. Deep-seated folliculitis barbae is called sycosis barbae, and leads to scarring and areas of permanent hair loss.

Pseudofolliculitis barbae is second type of folliculitis. It is an inflammatory reaction surrounding ingrown facial hairs, which too results from shaving. It is also known as shaving rash, barber’s itch, razor bumps and ingrown hair. This effect 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.

What contributes to 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
  • disposable razors

Folliculitis Barbae and Pseudofolliculitis can certainly co-exist together.

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.

Prevention

Use skin care products that contain bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus) fighting essential oil. 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.

Maintenance

Follow your shave with a product that will properly treat freshly shaven skin like alcohol-free witch hazel.

BODYTRUTH brand soaps and facial balms softens skin and hair, helping to minimize re-entry of coarse hairs. It contains bacteria fighting essential oils that help keep skin clear; and protects the skin from further damage and discoloration.

Skin is the body’s largest organ and I 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, like our BODYTRUTH brand.

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.