Shaving rash isn’t just a man thing

Itching, redness, razor bumps, ingrown hairs.
We’ve all been there. But what is it?
What causes it? Is it infectious? And what’s the best way to treat it?

Sycosis or just shaving rash?

First, you’ll be happy to know that most cases of red and itchy discomfort related to shaving are not serious.

The dermatological condition called sycosis requires medical treatment, but fortunately it is not very common. The condition appears as pus-filled blisters that develop in the hair follicles, and it can spread to infect larger areas of the skin. Other symptoms, such as irritation, razor bumps and ingrown hairs, are indications of shaving rash, which can potentially develop into sycosis, but generally doesn’t.

Shaving rash develops after shaving, but goes away with time and doesn’t spread.

Do you shave or wax regularly?

Beard plague occurs when you remove hair either by shaving or waxing.

Shaving creates small cuts in the skin where staphylococcus bacteria from your razor blade or skin can enter and create small inflammation-like conditions inside the skin. During waxing, the pores open up, allowing the bacteria free access.

The infection initially appears as small red swellings around the hair follicles and can then develop into very small pimples, also known as pustules (pus-filled blisters), which can later turn into full-blown abscesses if you are very unlucky.

Why do ingrown hairs develop?

When the hairs need to grow back, the infection can prevent them from breaking out through the skin and they start to grow inwards.

This is what is experienced as ingrown hairs.

Who’s to blame?

The bacteria that cause the infection can come from two sources:

  1. Your razor
    This is especially true if it is not properly cleaned or the razor blade is dull. For example, a razor that has been used for a long time will be filled with bacteria from previous shaves and cause more cuts in the skin.

  2. Your skin
    Everyone has mild staphylococcus bacteria in their skin. When we shave, small cuts are made in the skin, allowing the bacteria to create small inflammation-like conditions inside the skin.


Does it matter if I shave with the grain or against it?

Does your shaving technique matter? Yes, it does.

Beard plague most often occurs if you shave against the direction of your hair, as this gives bacteria easier access to your follicles.

Does shaving rash only occur in connection with shaving or waxing?

No, you can also develop a similar rash in areas where you haven’t shaved if the hair follicles in those areas are particularly susceptible to bacteria.

Can anyone develop shaving rash or is it just me?

Shaving rash is a very common and widespread condition, and most women who shave or wax have experienced it.

Is shaving rash infectious?

Shaving rash and sycosis can be transmitted to others through direct or indirect contact. Because everyone has staphylococcus bacteria on their skin, which is the cause of the problem, it’s important that you never share your razor or towel with others and that you maintain good personal hygiene.

How can I avoid shaving rash?

We have written two articles about this. Click here to find out what precautions you should take to avoid beard plague and read our shaving guide. Or click here if you want to know something special about intimate shaving for women.

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