First off, what is Pseudofolliculitis Barbae?
One needs to define what it is before one can answer the question of whether it is contagious or not.
So what is Pseudofolliculitis Barbae?
This condition is also known as Razor bumps or Barber’s itch. It is a type of Folliculitis. It is caused by the inflammation of the follicles. The follicles in case you don’t know, are those tiny holes through which hair grows out from. They contain and house each hair strand.
So when these follicles are inflamed, it can cause this condition called Pseudofolliculitis Barbae. This inflammation is usually caused by irritation from hair shaving. It is most common in occurrence on the face. It could also occur on other parts of the body where hair grows and it has been shaved. It is most common in the areas of the body that are sensitive.
It has also been found to be more common with people with curly hair. This is because this kind of hair has a greater tendency of growing back into its follicle. Razor bumps are usually occurring after you shave. Razor bumps can spoil the overall look of your face. It prevents your face from looking smooth and causes you to look unattractive. Pseudofolliculitis Barbae is very treatable luckily and this means that you are not stuck with it.
How does razor bumps look like?
Razor bumps usually look like pus-filled pimples. Once the Pseudofolliculitis barbae has started developing, pustules start forming. The skin looks red, that is there are small red bumps and it looks itchy for fair skinned people and could even look similar to pimples. For dark-skinned people, the bumps may not appear red but black. And they are usually quite concentrated in one area. So, if for example, they are occurring on the lower neck, they will be very plenty and concentrated there. They tend to be tiny bumps that are very concentrated and plenty in the area affected.
What causes Pseudofolliculitis Barbae?
This condition is usually caused by repeated shaving of the beard. When you cut the hair close to the follicle, it results in the twisting of the hair into its own follicle which later causes irritation and inflammation of the follicles. It is caused by the ingrown hair that results from this. The hair that is cut off usually curls back into the skin underneath and causes irritation and therefore swelling.
Is Pseudofolliculitis Barbae contagious?
No, it is not contagious. Some other forms of folliculitis are contagious especially those caused by bacteria and fungi. But Pseudofolliculitis Barbae itself is not contagious. Since it is caused by shaving, you will only have a chance of contacting this condition if you start shaving.
Shaving your beard increases your susceptibility to developing this skin condition. And since it is not caused by microbes, it can’t be transmitted if you share shaving kits with someone that has it.
Sharing your shaving kit will not cause you to get this condition. But shaving in itself will increase your likelihood of developing Pseudofolliculitis Barbae. Body contact with someone that has it doesn’t mean you will have it. What will likely cause you to develop this condition is “shaving”.
Therefore, Pseudofolliculitis Barbae is not contagious in any way.
How to treat Pseudofolliculitis Barbae
Okay so, you have this condition… What to do to eliminate it? Good question. There are different methods you can employ to battle that Pseudofolliculitis.. They are listed below:
1. Try to shave less
If you have this condition, there is a big probability that the reason you have this condition is that you are shaving too much. You would have been advised to just grow your hair out. But some people have occupations that require them to be cleanly shaven. So, one really can’t say that. But you surely can reduce the amount of time that you shave in a week or month.
Make it less frequent. This is because long strands of hair will not grow into its own follicle. But short and sharp edged strands will twist and grow into its own follicle. By shaving, you are giving your hair strands greater possibility of growing into their follicles which can cause the condition. When you shave less frequently, the less irritation your skin gets, the less your susceptibility to the condition. The fastest solution is to stop shaving.
If you can’t do that due to your job, then shave less frequently. It will help.
2. Moisturize your skin very well
By moisturizing your skin, you are ensuring soft skin. And soft skin allows for the hair strand to come out without it being ingrown. Moisturizing your skin will ensure that as the hair strand grows out, it grows out not back inwards. What you need to do is get a quality moisturizer for your beard and use regularly. There are lots of quality beard moisturizers out there to pick from. Regularly applying these moisturizers after you shave will ensure that as your hair grows back, it doesn’t grow into its follicle. Because soft skin ensures that the hair comes out smoothly without causing any damage.
3. Always groom your beards properly
It is important to note that while shaving, you should shave your beard in the direction that it grows not away from it. This is the right way to shave. In whatever direction your beard hairs point, that is the direction you should follow while shaving. This is to prevent the irritation of your follicles. Also, always use a lubricating shaving gel before shaving.
It is highly recommended that you get one because it helps to reduce the friction between your hair’s follicles and your shaving blade. If you are going to shave your hair perhaps it is part of your job requirement, then you should know how to do it safely. When shaving, before you start, use hot water to massage your skin this is so as to open up your pores.
This will let your skin breathe properly. After this, get quality shaving cream and then use a thick lather of the shaving cream on your beard and skin to protect it before shaving. Also, always use a sharp razor blade. When you are done shaving, use a cold cloth to pat the shaved area to close up your skin pores back. It is generally advised that you don’t shave your facial hair at all for at least a week if you already have razor bumps. Because of shaving when you already have Pseudofolliculitis Barbae is like giving ‘pain’ free passage to you. And also, you could end up having undesirable scars due to your actions if you don’t give your body time to heal and fight off the Pseudofolliculitis Barbae on its own.
Does Pseudofolliculitis Barbae go away on its own?
Yes. It does. It clears up after a week of coming out but only provided you stop shaving for that time lapse. Stop shaving and wait for up to a week, and it will clear out. It heals naturally on its own.
Types of Razor Bumps
There are the Extrafollicular razor bumps and the Transfollicular razor bumps. For the Extrafollicular bumps, as the hair grows out, and it is cut short by shaving, it then turns around and enters the skin and doesn’t come out back at all.
While for Transfollicular ones, the hair does come out after entering the skin but it reenters again. For the Transfollicular one, you can tease the hair out by using tweezers. But be careful so that you don’t end up with ingrown hairs that are deeper.
How to treat Pseudofolliculitis Barbae for black men
As a colored man, you have a greater tendency to develop razor bumps when you shave than other men. This is because your hair is more tightly coiled than the other hair types thereby increasing the likelihood of your hair growing into its follicle. As for ways to treat these razor bumps, we provided an explanation for three ways you can treat razor bumps easily above. The methods stated above will also treat your razor bumps as a black man.
There is no special treatment for black men, but following the methods outlined above, will do it just perfectly. Try to stop shaving for a while so that the Pseudofolliculitis Barbae can go away naturally. It will heal on its own once you stop shaving. But never shave when you have a break out of razor bumps until the razor bumps have completely healed before you can start shaving again. Shaving should be greatly minimized because untreated razor bumps in black men can lead to Keloid scarring. So, be vigilant.
What causes Folliculitis of the scalp?
Scalp folliculitis usually occurs along the hairline on the head. It is usually caused by bacteria or fungi. At first, the scalp folliculitis can look like small red bumps, but as time goes on they can turn into sores. It is usually itchy and embarrassing. And when it gets severe, it can cause scars and permanent hair loss. The most common bacteria that causes scalp folliculitis is Staphylococcus aureus. But this scalp folliculitis can also be caused by inflammation due to ingrown hair, virus, and fungi.
Factors that increase your chances of developing Folliculitis.
1. Having a medical condition that increases your predisposition to infection
Having an infection like HIV/AIDS can reduce your immune system’s ability to fight off infections. For someone that has this disease, for example, they are at risk of developing the scalp folliculitis condition. So, if you are suffering from any medical condition that reduces your immune system’s power like diabetes and chronic leukemia, then you are likely to develop folliculitis.
Like earlier stated, shaving your hair, whether hair on your face or head, causes ingrown hairs which cause inflammation and could lead to folliculitis. So, you should reduce your amount of shaving to avoid folliculitis.
3. Having curly hair
Having tightly coiled hair is another risk factor. Because curly hair tends to grow spirally, it can cause that the hair should grow back into its own follicle causing ingrown hair thereby inflammation. If you have curly hair, and you want to avoid folliculitis, it is best that you abstain from shaving.
There are different types of Folliculitis of which among them is the Pseudofolliculitis Barbae. The types include:
1. Hot tub Folliculitis
This is also known as Pseudomonas folliculitis. With this type of folliculitis, you will usually develop a rash that is red and that looks like bumps. It is caused by the Pseudomonas bacteria that live in hot tubs and other areas where the chlorine and PH levels of the water present are not well regulated.
2. Bacteria Folliculitis
This type of Folliculitis usually looks like white bumps that are pus-filled and look itchy. This type of Folliculitis is usually caused by Staphylococcus aureus commonly called Staph bacteria. This happens when it infects the hair follicles and most times, the Staph bacteria Lives on the human body all the time.
3. Razor Bumps
This type of Folliculitis is of course what we have been talking about throughout this article. It is caused by ingrown hairs due to shaving close to the skin. And it is usually prevalent in the face and neck. It could also appear in the groin too! So be careful. This is the only type of Folliculitis that is not caused by a microbe.
4. Pityrosporum folliculitis
This type of Folliculitis is caused by Yeast. It causes red and itchy pustules on the back, chest, neck, shoulders, and face. It could be really chronic.
Facts about Razor Bumps
- Men are more likely to develop razor bumps more than women. Obviously so. This is obviously because men shave more frequently than their women counterparts.
- Did you know that 78% of American men surveyed were found to develop some form of irritation due to shaving? Such irritations include razor bumps, soreness, red skin and so on.
- Sources claim that a whopping 60-80% of black men are affected by razor bumps compared to 20% of Caucasian men. This is all due to the fact that black men have curly hair that is very tight that have a tendency to grow back into the skin.
- Another study says that men with tightly coiled hair were 50 times more likely to suffer from Pseudofolliculitis Barbae compared to men with straight hair.
- A lot of studies confirm that the most effective treatment for Pseudofolliculitis Barbae or razor bumps or razor burns is to leave your facial hair to grow without shaving at all. That is, to grow a beard! Leave it for 3 to 4 weeks while at the same time applying a mild cortisone cream to the skin each morning if you have already been infected with it.
- You can also avoid razor bumps by using an electric razor. Electric razors effectively shave your facial hair without getting too close to the skin. Or better still get a barber to professionally shave your beard for you.
- Pseudofolliculitis Barbae was first discovered in the year 1956.
- Pseudofolliculitis Barbae that occurs in the genital area is called Pseudofolliculitis pubis.
Home remedies for Pseudofolliculitis Barbae
Do you know that there are natural home remedies that you can use to combat razor bumps? Well, yes! There are! In fact, there are a lot of them and we are going to be looking at all of them in this section. One would have been advised to get permanent hair removal using Electrolysis method or laser treatment methods but these methods are very expensive and therefore not for everyone. But these home remedies help to keep the razor bumps away and also to treat them!
You will want to be able to walk around in shorts as a lady without your legs looking reddish thanks to the razor bumps. As a lady, we all know that having hairy legs isn’t the most attractive thing. And razor bumps could also occur when you shave the hair on your legs. So, it is better to be armed with the knowledge of which home remedies to use. They include:
Yup! We all know that as common baking soda is in the kitchen, it has amazing healing abilities. It is one of the top home remedies for skin infections and Pseudofolliculitis barbae is not an exception. It works marvelously for it too. It is not too strong too, very mild which means that it is perfect for sensitive skin. How do you use it? Well, it’s easy. Mix the baking soda with water and stir well. Leave it at a texture where it will stick well to your face and won’t fall off. How you can do this is to not make it too thick. Use gentle, circular motions with your fingers to rub the mixture on your face. Let it sit in for 10 minutes then rinse out with cold water.
After that, you can use a moisturizing oil like olive oil to Moisturize. This baking soda works amazingly well for curing and preventing Pseudofolliculitis Barbae. It helps to prevent your follicles from getting clogged. If your follicle gets clogged, it could cause a growing out strand of hair to get trapped thereby causing ingrown hair. So, using baking soda helps to prevent that.
When you want to shave, you should consider enlisting at least one essential oil on your hair before you shave. Coconut oil acts as a perfect shaving lubricant for your beard. This method has been used for centuries and is a common practice. Well, if you didn’t know, now you know! The work of the coconut oil is that it helps the razor to smoothly glide over your hair thereby eradicating any problem of irritation. This allows for a smoother shave. It is also useful in removing those unwanted ingrown hairs. Because of its Lauric acid content, it is very helpful in healing damaged skin. So, if your skin has razor bumps, applying coconut oil on it every day will work wonders in clearing out the bumps.
If you have a lot of razor bumps especially in in very concentrated forms, this is for you. Epsom salt does an amazing job at healing Pseudofolliculitis Barbae. What you need to do, is get two tablespoons of Epsom salt and then mix with one cup of water. Mix well. After that, dip a cotton wool into the mixture and allow it to sit on the infected area for at least 10 minutes. This is especially effective when exfoliating and removing ingrown hairs. Also, you could run a bath and then add two cups of Epsom salt to the water. Soak yourself in the mixture for 10 minutes. And then apply a good moisturizer after.
Aloe vera has a long history of effectiveness when it comes to healing skin damage. It is a well renowned natural remedy for many skin problems. This natural remedy is excellent at soothing inflammation and preventing irritation. It does its job so well that it is the fastest remedy to use when you have razor bumps. How do you apply this Aloe vera to the affected area?
Just get Aloe vera leaf and squeeze out the fresh gel inside. And apply this gel to the affected area in surplus amount. Let it dry and then wash with cold water. You can do this twice or even up to three times in a day. How does this work? Because of Aloe vera’s strong anti- inflammatory properties, it is very effective in combating razor bumps. Be sure to try this now!
Tea tree oil
You should apply this tea tree oil as a mixture with olive oil which is the carrier oil. The tea tree oil might come on too strong if used alone. So it has to be mixed with a carrier oil. Tea tree oil has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and strong antioxidant properties which help in effectively combating these razor bumps. This Tea tree oil recipe will also reduce the size of the bump and swelling and kill any microbial infection that might come in contact with it. You should apply this mixture on your beard at least twice daily.
As time goes on, you will get relief from your razor bumps. It also works amazingly fast. How to apply?
After mixing the two oils together vigorously, then apply it on the razor bumps and leave on it for up to 15 minutes. After that time, rinse out with warm water.
How do you use honey?
- Mix one tablespoon of plain yoghurt with half a teaspoon of honey and mix.
- After mixing, apply the mixture to the affected area.
- Leave it to dry for like 15 minutes on the area so that the skin under the hair can absorb the honey well.
- After letting it dry, rinse out with warm water. Pat dry with a towel.
You can also use only Honey in the area too. That is if you don’t have plain yoghurt. You should also do this twice daily if you want quick results. This honey recipe works well for clearing out the razor bumps and reducing the swelling.
Honey is also famous for its Humectant and Emollient properties. It helps to soothe the itch that could come along with the razor bumps and also effectively moisturizes your skin. It can be used to treat Pseudofolliculitis Barbae that is present in any area of the body whether under the arms, beard, scalp, legs, basically anywhere.
The above natural remedies are effective for dealing with razor bumps and even in preventing it. You should use Coconut oil, Castor oil, Olive oil as a shaving lubricant for your shavings. They work fantastically well and help with smooth shaving and prevent skin irritation and ingrown hairs. Some other natural remedies that were not mentioned that you should definitely try are: Castor oil, Strawberry paste, Aspirin paste, Deodorants (yes! You read it right! Just rub the deodorant over the affected area and you are good to go!), Lemon juice, Alcohol (Not to drink, but to rub over the area that is affected), White tea and black tea, Hot compress, Cold compress and Baby powder.
These remedies have been tried by people and have been considered to be very excellent at chasing away razor bumps. Go with your intuition and pick whichever one you prefer from this vast list and remember to not shave the affected area for up to 4 weeks till the razor bumps are totally gone.
Apart from natural remedies, there are also medications and drugs that work well for clearing out razor bumps. When the razor bumps are getting too stubborn and won’t go with just natural remedies then you surely and definitely have to switch to medications especially when the razor bumps are getting painful. The medications you can use to combat razor bumps include:
All you need is 1% of Hydrocortisone cream and a cotton swab. How do you apply this? Use the clean cotton swab you got to apply the cream to the area that is affected. If there is a second area of infection separate from the first one, then you use the other side of the swab stick to apply the Hydrocortisone cream to the other area. This is to prevent spreading infections. Then you should leave the cream on the affected areas for 20 minutes. After that, wash the cream off with cold water. Do this at least twice daily for quick results.
What makes this work?
The Hydrocortisone that this cream contains helps in constricting the blood vessels and hence reducing the blood flow to the affected area thereby reducing inflammation, irritation, redness and swelling effectively. This cream works so well with razor bumps. It clears it out in an instant.
Use any antibacterial cream of your choice and get a cotton swab. Use the cotton swab to apply the cream to the affected area. Let it sit in for 30 minutes. After that, use a soft tissue to wipe off the cream. You should do this two times a day. Razor bumps can cause bacterial infection due to skin tissue damage. In order to stop the bacterial infection from making the bumps get worse, you need to combat it with an antibacterial cream. It will help prevent more swelling and redness.
Other medications you can use for your razor bumps include; Alum block, Retin A cream which contains retinoids which help in tissue repair and Glycolic cream. These will help to quickly combat the Pseudofolliculitis Barbae if natural remedies are not strong enough.
Since Pseudofolliculitis Barbae can occur anywhere that hair grows then you need to be careful with shaving your hair. If you must shave, shave in short strokes and don’t get too close to the skin. Also if you want to shave your facial hair, you should really consider a professional barber to help you. This is because they usually have clippers guard, and also use an electric razor that shaves the hair without being close to the skin. Manual razors could increase your tendency to have razor bumps. Be careful. Also, if you develop razor bumps or barber’s itch, don’t pick or squeeze or scratch. This is so that when it clears up it doesn’t leave scars. And also don’t use old, Rusty and dirty razors. Make sure to get new razors every time you want to shave. You should also keep in mind that before you shave, you are expected to soften your beard with warm water.
Pseudofolliculitis Barbae is not a killer infection but can be very irritating. Apart from being itchy, it could also get painful. You should be sure to follow the instructions provided in this article. And try to keep a beard if you are a man suffering from razor bumps every time you shave off your beard. Keeping a beard will save you a lot of stress including Pseudofolliculitis barbae problems.