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You may be able to relieve bumps after waxing by methods including exfoliating and applying a cold compress, among others. Some over-the-counter products may help.

When hair is forcefully removed, like with waxing, it causes stress to the surrounding skin. Many people develop mild bumps and inflammation afterward. Although this usually clears up in a few days, treatment can speed healing and prevent future bumps.

Read on to learn more about why these bumps form, tips for quick relief, what to do immediately after waxing and between waxes, and more.

Many people develop folliculitis — a bumpy, pimple-like rash — after hair removal. It’s usually caused by inflammation. Inflammation typically goes away on its own without treatment.

If you have white or fluid-bumps that last more than a few days, your folliculitis may be the result of a mild infection. This can usually be treated at home.

If you develop bumps after the initial inflammation subsides — a week at most after waxing — they may be a result of ingrown hairs. Ingrown hairs are a specific type of folliculitis. They form when hair grows back into the skin instead of up out of the skin’s surface.

Ingrown hairs cause small, round bumps or pustules that resemble acne. Hair may or may not be visible inside the bump.

You’re more likely to develop ingrown hairs if your hair is naturally curly or coarse.

Although ingrown hairs may eventually break through the surface on their own, there are things you can do to help bring them to the surface and relieve your symptoms.

While it’s usually best to leave bumps alone so they can heal on their own, there are a few things you can try to reduce swelling and inflammation.

You should:

  • Wear loose-fitting clothes. Tight fabrics can increase irritation on already sensitive skin.
  • Apply a cool compress to help soothe the affected area. You can use an ice pack or make a compress of your own by running a clean washcloth under cold water. Apply the compress to the affected area for up to 20 minutes.
  • Use a warm compress to help draw out ingrown hairs. You can use a heating pad or make a compress of your own by running a clean washcloth under hot water. Apply the compress to the affected area for up to 5 minutes at a time.
  • Avoid picking or popping bumps. Not only can this damage your skin, poking and prodding can introduce bacteria and increase your risk of infection.
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How you manage and prevent bumps after waxing depends on a few factors:

  • where you waxed
  • when you waxed
  • skin sensitivity

If you get professional waxes, your specialist should provide you with detailed aftercare information specific to the area. Here are some general recommendations.

Immediately after waxing:

  • Apply a cool compress or take a cool shower to reduce irritation and sensitivity. Avoid hot baths or showers.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing to avoid friction and irritation.
  • Avoid perfumed products, lotions, and creams, which can irritate sensitized skin.
  • Apply an over-the-counter cortisone cream on the waxed area to reduce inflammation.
  • Avoid excessive activity for 24 hours after waxing. Perspiration can irritate freshly waxed skin.

One to two days after waxing:

  • Continue to wear loose-fitting clothing to reduce friction.
  • Continue to avoid perfumed oils and creams. You can apply mild gels, such as aloe vera, to help soothe the skin as needed.

Between waxes:

  • Cleanse and exfoliate regularly. Removing dead skin and other debris can help release embedded hair and prevent additional ingrown hairs.

If you’re dealing with lingering irritation or inflammation, you may be able to use home or natural remedies to find relief.

You may already have one or more of the ingredients for these DIY treatments in your kitchen or medicine cabinet. If not, you can probably find them at your local pharmacy.

Sugar scrub

A simple homemade sugar scrub can help soothe irritation and prevent ingrown hairs from forming. To make your own, mix half a cup of sugar with half a cup of coconut or olive oil. Apply a small amount to the affected area and gently scrub in a circular motion.

You may find that daily exfoliation is too harsh for your skin, so exfoliate every other day to start. Shop for pre-made sugar scrubs

Aloe vera

If you have an aloe vera plant, all you have to do to enjoy its nourishing benefits is break off a piece of its leaf. Squeeze the plant’s essence directly onto the affected area and gently massage it into your skin to soothe inflammation.

You can do this up to three times daily. Shop for aloe vera plants

Tea tree essential oil

Tea tree oil can also soothe recently waxed skin. Oil is more likely to clog pores in the first day or two after waxing, so reserve this remedy for lingering or late-forming irritation.

You should dilute tea tree essential oil with a carrier, such as olive or coconut oil, before applying it to your skin. Add 10 drops of carrier oil for every 1 drop of tea tree oil. Test for allergies with a patch of diluted tea tree oil on your arm. If there’s no reaction in 24 hours, you should be able to use it.

You can apply the diluted solution to the affected area up to three times daily. Shop for tea tree oil

Witch hazel

Witch hazel has astringent and antiseptic properties that can help calm and prevent rashes. Soak a cotton pad in pure witch hazel extract and apply to the affected area up to three times daily. Shop for witch hazel

Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is another natural antiseptic. Soak a cotton pad in apple cider vinegar and apply it to the inflamed area up to three times daily to speed healing and prevent infection. Shop for apple cider vinegar

You can also use traditional beauty products to soothe irritated skin and help prevent bumps from forming.

Creams and gels

Hydrocortisone cream is a topical steroid that reduces inflammation and swelling. It can be applied after waxing to soothe irritation. Shop for hydrocortisone cream

Gel containing tea tree oil can help soothe inflammation and reduce your risk of infection. Unlike tea tree oil, gels won’t clog your pores and can be applied immediately after waxing. Shop for tea tree gel

Aloe vera gel, derived from the aloe vera plant, also has soothing, moisturizing, and anti-inflammatory benefits. Shop for aloe vera gel

Exfoliants and other solutions

Exfoliating pads make it easy to remove dead skin cells and other debris without over-scrubbing. Traditional scrubs may be too harsh on freshly waxed skin. Shop for exfoliating pads

Tend Skin is a cult-classic product hailed for its ability to reduce ingrown hair and bumps. Shop for Tend Skin

PFB Vanish + Chromabright is another must-have among beauty insiders. The chemical exfoliant helps prevent ingrown hairs, as well as minimize waxing-related hyperpigmentation. Shop for PFB Vanish + Chromabright

Routine cleansing and exfoliating is the easiest and most effective way to prevent bumps from forming after you wax.

Make sure you use a mild scrub or exfoliating cloth every other day, at a minimum, to prevent the buildup of dead skin cells and other debris.

Once you start waxing, it’s important to maintain your appointments. They’re typically spaced four to six weeks apart to align with your hair’s natural growth cycle.

If you schedule an appointment outside of this timeline — or use other hair removal techniques between appointments — it disrupts your growth pattern. This increases your risk of irritation and ingrown hairs.

If your skin is still irritated as your appointment nears, call your waxing specialist. They can determine whether you should reschedule.

You should also check in if you’re on or close to beginning your menstrual cycle. Although your waxing specialist can still perform the service, your skin may be more sensitive than usual during this time.