Dermatology/hair removal rash


Hi, I'm not sure if this is the right section to ask in, but I'm hoping you can help me.

I have very sensitive skin, that gets 'shaving rash' from any kind of hair removal. I've tried shaving, waxing, and various creams, but a day after doing it I get the rash which is then nasty red, bumpy, and itchy as all Hell for as long as it takes the hair to grow almost completely back to full length. All the advice I can find online about avoiding shaving rash is about preventing sensitivity to irritation from the razor itself, which isn't my issue. My problem is the hair growing back.

I'd like to get laser hair removal, to avoid the awful rash. The problem is, the hair removal places tell me to shave 1-3 days before the appointment (depending on laser type, I think) which is enough time for me to rash up, after which I can't have laser over the rash.

Do you have any advice for stopping my sensitive skin reacting to the hair growing back? Or if not, how I could at least prevent it coming up for a couple of days so I can get through the laser appointment without rash getting in the way?

Thank you for your time.

One type of ingrown hair is pseudofolliculitis barbae, also called "razor bumps," in which five to 40 small red bumps appear on the beard area (lower face and neck) and may flare with repeat shaving. Razor bumps are commonly experienced by African-American men, especially those who shave frequently. Flesh-colored red bumps with a hair shaft in their center are seen in shaved areas adjacent to the hair follicle opening. Pustules and abscesses may occasionally form, especially if there are bacteria on the skin. In chronic or inadequately treated situations, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, scarring, and rare keloid formation may occur. This skin condition is mostly seen in darker skin or African skin with facial hair because of the curvature of these patients' hair follicles.

Are there any home remedies for an ingrown hair?

Although no cure exists, it is possible to decrease the occurrence of ingrown hairs. The easiest way to do this is through proper hair and skin hygiene.

Hydrate and soften both the skin and the hair before shaving. This can result in a duller, rounded tip to the hair, which decreases the likelihood for hairs to reenter the skin.
Use a moistened washcloth, a wet sponge, or a soft-bristled toothbrush with a mild soap to wash the beard or hair for several minutes via a circular motion to help dislodge stubborn tips.
Some natural mild exfoliators, such as salt and sugar, can be applied to treat the redness or irritation that comes with the ingrown hair.
Do not shave against the direction or grain of the hair growth.
Avoid shaving too closely to the skin.
When using electric razors, some shaving techniques may help prevent ingrown hair. Keep the head of the electric razor slightly off the surface of the skin and shave in a slow, circular motion. Pressing the razor too close to the skin or pulling the skin taut can result in too close of a shave.
Leave very short 1-2 mm stubble with shaving to help reduce the tendency of shaving too closely. These shaving techniques can avoid creating a sharp tip when shaving and prevent hair from reentering the skin by leaving slightly longer stubble.
Another way to prevent ingrown hairs is by avoiding shaving and allowing hair to grow naturally.
Carefully use a sterile needle and alcohol wipe to dislodge stubborn ingrown hairs or use tweezers to gently tease the hair out of the skin. However, this is usually not recommended in that these procedures may be too aggressive and cause further damage to the skin.


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Michael S. Fisher, <B>Ph.D., M.D.</B>


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