Shaving and other at-home hair removal methods are popular short-term solutions for getting rid of unwanted hair. Shaving with razors or electric shavers along with depilation methods like waxing or using hair removal creams can quickly and temporarily remove hair in most areas of the body.
However, those hair removal methods hold several disadvantages. Skin issues, irritation, ingrown hairs, and discomfort are the most common side-effects. To make matters worse, most people do not know how to deal with those issues accordingly.
Here, we will offer helpful medical advice on what you can do at home to minimize skin issues and ease discomfort.
Skin Issues after Shaving and Depilation
Shaving or similar temporary hair removal methods only allow you to remove visible hair. When you use a razor blade, electric razor, or a hair removal cream, you are essentially removing the hair above the skin’s surface layer. While this creates a tidy look, it is only temporary.
What Causes Skin Issues?
Hair growth occurs much deeper within the hair follicles, which are located several millimetres beneath the skin. When shaving, razors (mostly dull ones) can irritate the hair follicles. The pull or friction that shaving creates can twist the hair. That is one of the biggest causes of rashes, itchiness, and ingrown hairs.
Those symptoms are commonly referred to as razor burns, but the medical term for it is folliculitis. The condition occurs when the staphylococcus aureus bacteria reaches the follicles. Conversely, razor bumps are also known as pseudofolliculitis barbae (PFB), and they happen when ingrown hairs extend into the skin. Aside from shaving, waxing, chemical depilatories, or plucking could cause similar conditions. For example, hair removal creams could have similar effects, including chemical burns or rashes.
Generally, most itches and irritations from depilation and shaving are short-term and will go away on their own. Yet, persistent rashes and severe cases of ingrown hairs could require oral or topical antibiotics and further treatment.
Furthermore, skin issues and side effects can also appear based on how and where you shave or remove hair via other methods. For example, some areas, including the genital region and the bikini line, are covered in sensitive skin. The hair in these areas is much thicker, and it can make removal feel noticeably uncomfortable, especially when it starts to grow back. Other culprits for discomfort include poorly fitting clothes. For example, wearing tight garments after hair removal can create even more friction.
What You Can Do
If you consistently experience discomfort and itching, here are some effective methods you could try:
Apply a Soothing Compress
To ease discomfort quickly, you can soak a clean washcloth in warm water. Adding sea salt to the water will help minimize red bumps, thanks to its antibacterial properties. Alternatively, a cold compress could reduce irritation as it can help your skin to relax.
Baking Soda Paste
A baking soda paste has a cooling and soothing effect on your skin. Even though there’s no medical evidence that it can eliminate pain, applying a paste made of water and baking soda to your skin and letting it dry can greatly alleviate irritation after depletion or shaving.
To prevent razor burn, you should avoid a close shave. Do not force your razor on your skin, as that can create harmful friction. Another tip is to use non-irritating shaving gels and shaving creams. Plus, it’s crucial to go with the grain with your razor rather than shave against it. It’s also essential to avoid dull razors. The same methods apply for electric shavers.
Research shows that it’s also helpful to exfoliate the skin before and after shaving or using chemical depilatories. That clears the openings of the follicle and reduces friction. However, you should avoid physical exfoliants as they can irritate the micro-cuts on your skin. Instead, choose chemical exfoliants and soothing oils with ingredients like hydroxy acid (AHA).
1% Hydrocortisone creams and gels can soothe most minor swelling and redness. They are available as over-the-counter products. They are effective when applied in small amounts after depilation.
If you’ve tried moisturizers with poor results before, you could have used the wrong product. To mitigate skin issues, use hypo-allergenic moisturizers with cooling properties. Some include aloe vera and witch hazel. They have antibacterial properties which protect your skin against infections and minimize the risk of ingrown hairs.
Opt for Loose Clothing
Loose clothing will eliminate friction during your daily movements while reducing sweat and chafing. It’s important to wear natural and breathable fabrics until the itching or redness goes away.
When to See a Doctor
Finally, if you experience any side-effects, you should stop removing your hair until they disappear. So far, we’ve shown you some solutions and proper hair removal techniques that can prevent skin discomfort in its tracks. Moreover, we’ve also shared some quick home remedies that will bring you some relief. If you treat most skin issues early on, you’ll be able to avoid further complications.
Generally, you can prevent most issues at home with simple solutions. However, in case of persistent symptoms, you could face risks of permanent scarring or even abscesses. If you cannot prevent skin irritation, redness, razor bumps, and ingrown hairs, it’s advisable to seek medical treatment from a board-certified Physician early on to avoid further complications.