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 presents 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?
Shaving rash develops when you remove the hairs, either by shaving or waxing.
Shaving causes tiny abrasions where a very mild strain of staphylococcus bacteria from your razor or the surrounding skin can get in and cause localised infection under the skin. Waxing opens the pores, making it easy for bacteria to get in.
The infection appears initially as little red bumps around the hair follicles and can subsequently develop into tiny little pimples or pustules that can become abscessed if you are very unfortunate.
Why do ingrown hairs develop?
When the hairs start to grow out again after shaving or other types of hair removal, they can have trouble breaking through the skin because of the infection and therefore begin to grow inwards.
This is called an ingrown hair.
Who’s to blame?
The bacteria that cause the infection can come from two sources:
- Your razor
This is especially true if your razor is dull or not cleaned properly. A razor that has been used many times will be full of bacteria from previous shaves and is more likely to damage the skin.
- Your skin
Staphylococcus is a very common and ’mild strain of bacteria that lives in the skin of most people. Shaving causes tiny little abrasions where bacteria can get in and cause localised infection under the skin.
Does it matter if I shave with the grain or against it?
Your shaving technique actually does play a role.
Shaving rash is more likely to occur if you shave against the grain, because it makes it easier for bacteria to get into your hair 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.