Shaving is a fast way to remove unwanted hair. It’s also notorious for leaving behind red patches of inflamed skin and bumps known as razor burn. Razor burn may occur anywhere you shave, from your legs to your underarms.
Razor burn is common. Most people who shave have experienced the condition at least once. Some people get it every time they shave. If you’re tormented by razor burn, there are steps you can take to soothe your skin and to reduce your risk of getting it again.
Many razor burn remedies are folk remedies backed by anecdotal evidence. There aren’t any scientific studies on remedies for razor burn. However, some studies have been done on herbal remedies for burns in general. Here are some tips for razor burn relief.
Aloe vera is known for soothing and healing burns. According to a 2007 systematic review, evidence supports the potential of aloe vera for healing first and second degree burns. To treat razor burn, apply a thin layer of pure aloe vera gel onto the affected area. Aloe vera gel is available in most pharmacies. You can also harvest it from an aloe plant.
Coconut oil is used in cooking, but it’s also great for your skin. According to a 2008 study, coconut oil could be a safe and effective therapy for healing burns. Researchers believe coconut oil has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. To treat razor burn, apply a thin layer of organic, expeller-pressed coconut oil to the inflamed area.
Sweet almond oil is made from dried almond kernels. It’s super emollient and a great natural moisturizer. Try applying sweet almond oil to your skin after shaving. You may also apply it directly to inflamed skin as needed. If you’re allergic to almonds, don’t use sweet almond oil.
According to a 2006 study, tea tree oil is anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial. It’s used as a natural remedy to heal minor wounds and soothe burns. Tea tree oil shouldn’t be used undiluted. Mix it with a carrier oil such as sweet almond oil or coconut oil. Use 1 to 3 drops of tea tree oil per teaspoon of carrier oil.
Even diluted tea tree oil may cause allergic reaction or further skin irritation in some people. It’s a good idea to do a patch test to see how your skin responds.
Witch hazel is a natural astringent and anti-inflammatory, thanks in part to its tannin content. It’s used as a natural remedy to soothe burns, relieve pain, and treat minor skin irritation. Apply to razor burn with a cotton pad as needed.
Baking soda has a cooling effect on the skin. It’s thought to draw out heat and pain, although there’s no scientific evidence to support this theory. To make a baking soda paste, add baking soda to filtered water until a thick paste forms. Apply the paste to your skin, leave on until it dries, and rinse thoroughly.
A cold compress may help relax irritated skin. If you’re prone to red bumps from ingrown hairs, a warm compress applied to your skin before shaving may help open pores and loosen the hairs.
Colloidal oatmeal is made by grinding oats into a fine powder. Research shows oats contain phenols that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Colloidal oatmeal helps soothe, cleanse, and moisturize the skin. For razor burn relief, soak in a colloidal oatmeal bath once daily for 10 to 15 minutes.
Hydrocortisone cream is a topical steroid that’s used to reduce irritation and inflammation. Low-strength formulas are available without a prescription. Use hydrocortisone cream as directed by the manufacturer or your doctor, usually once or twice daily. If you experience any side effects or worsening inflammation, discontinue use.
Calendula cream is an herbal remedy made from calendula flowers. It’s used to reduce inflammation, heal rashes, and promote wound-healing. To help soothe razor burn, apply a thin layer of calendula cream to the affected area once or twice a day.
If you don’t take steps to prevent razor burn, you’ll find yourself stuck in a vicious cycle. As you continue to shave over razor-burned skin, the problem will only get worse. Some people are more prone to razor burn than others.
Even so, there are several steps you can take to help prevent the condition. This includes:
- Lather up before shaving with shaving cream.
- Shave in a warm shower or bath to soften hair.
- Exfoliate before shaving.
- Shave in the same direction hair grows.
- Don’t shave every day.
- Don’t use old razors.
- Keep your razor clean.
- Keep your skin moisturized between shaves.
Some shaving creams and shaving after-care products contain chemicals that may irritate sensitive skin. Before using a new product, do a patch test to check for sensitivity.
With proper care, most cases of razor burn usually clear up in a few days. If possible, take a few days off from shaving to give your skin time to heal.
Shaving is a common cause of folliculitis, an infection of the hair follicles. Symptoms of folliculitis include:
- pus-filled blisters that break open and scab over
- red, inflamed skin
- itching and burning skin
- clusters of small bumps that form around hair follicles
- skin tenderness and pain
- a swollen mass
Mild cases of folliculitis may resolve on their own. Severe cases warrant a trip to your doctor. Some treatment options are topical antibiotics, antifungals, and oral corticosteroids.
If razor burn is a problem for you, even after you’ve taken prevention steps and tried home remedies, contact your doctor.