A good, clean shave leaves your skin feeling so smooth and soft at first — but then come the red bumps. Razor bumps are more than just an annoyance; in some cases, they can cause permanent damage if they’re not treated.
Other names for razor bumps include:
- pseudofolliculitis barbae (PFB)
- pseudofolliculitis pubis (specifically when the bumps occur in the pubic area)
- barber’s itch
- folliculitis barbae traumatica
While the primary symptom is raised, red bumps, others may include:
- darkening of the skin
- small papules (solid, rounded bumps)
- pustules (pus-filled, blister-like lesions)
Razor bumps can occur anywhere that’s been shaved. Waxing, plucking, and removal by chemical depilatory may cause the condition in some cases, too. They’re most likely to occur in the following areas:
- face (particularly the chin, neck, and lower cheeks)
The bumps occur when curly hairs get stuck inside the hair follicles, according to Dr. Cynthia Abbott, a medical, surgical, and cosmetic dermatologist with Dermatology Affiliates in Atlanta, Georgia.
“Instead of growing straight out of the follicle, hairs meet resistance from dead skin at more steeply angled pore openings and the hair curls back around inside the pore,” she says. “This causes inflamed, painful, red bumps.”
While anyone who removes hair can develop razor bumps, they’re most likely to affect African-American males. In fact, between 45 and 85 percent of African-American males experience PFB. Hispanic men and people with curly hair are also more likely to develop razor bumps.