Beard plague and red bumps in women: What should you do?

Itching, redness, red bumps, ingrown hairs or simply put: beard plague. We all know it. But what is it? How does it occur? How contagious is it? And what do we do once we have it?

Sycosis or just shaving rash?

What many people commonly call beard plague is not actually beard plague.

Actually, beard plague is a disease, also known as folliculitis, that is not seen very often and when it does occur, medical treatment is usually necessary. The disease appears as small pus-filled blisters that develop in the hair follicles and can be contagious, infecting large areas of the skin. Other complaints, such as irritation, red bumps and ingrown hairs, are not beard plague, but conditions that can eventually lead to beard plague.

That said, beard plague is the word most people use to describe their skin complaints. So, for the sake of clarity, we're jumping on the bandwagon and using the word beard rash in its broadest sense, meaning ingrown hairs, itching, redness, bumps and everything else that bothers you after shaving.

Do you shave or wax regularly?

Beard plague occurs when you remove the hairs either by shaving with razors or waxing.

Shaving creates small tears in the skin where staphylococcus bacteria from your razor blade or skin can enter and create small inflammatory conditions inside the skin. During waxing, the pores open up, allowing bacteria free access here too.

The infection initially appears as small red swellings around the hair follicles and can then develop into very small pimples called pustules (pus-filled blisters), which can later turn into full-blown abscesses if you're 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 inflammation can come from two places:

  1. Your razor: This is especially true if it's 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 tears appear in the skin, allowing the bacteria to create small inflammatory 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 is most common if you shave against the direction of your hair, as this gives bacteria easier access to your follicles.

However, some will find that shaving against the grain doesn't cause any problems. If you're not one of those people who experience discomfort from different shaving directions, go for it.

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?

Beard plague is a very common and widespread infection, and most women who shave or wax have experienced it. So you're not the only one. Especially with intimate shaving, many people experience it.

Is shaving rash infectious?

Beard plague can be contagious and transmitted to others through direct or indirect contact. Since everyone has the staphylococcus bacteria in their skin that causes the problem, it is therefore important that when shaving, for example, you do not share a razor or towel with others and that you maintain good hygiene.

How can I avoid shaving rash?

The short answer is a shaving foam or gel that prevents the bacteria that causes skin irritation, inflammation and ultimately beard plague. Here, of course, we would recommend ShaveSafe as it prevents folliculitis/beard plague during hair removal.

But there's a bit more to it than just using the right shaving foam when shaving, and we've written two articles about that. Click here to find out what precautions you need to take to avoid beard plague and irritation and read our shaving guide. Or click here for skincare tips and to learn more about intimate shaving for women.

ShaveSafe's dermatologically tested shaving foam and gel prevents bacteria, skin irritation and beard plague during hair removal.

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