Shaving gives your skin a temporarily smooth look and feel. But for many people, shaving comes with the side effect of uncomfortable itching. Red bumps from inflammation near your hair pores, called folliculitis, can also crop up after shaving sensitive skin. Keep reading to find out why this happens and what you can do about it.
What causes itchy skin after shaving?
When you use a razor to get rid of visible hair on your skin, you’re not really removing all your hair – you’re just cutting it off close to where it grows. Your hair follicles continue to grow hair underneath your skin, and shaving can cause those follicles to become irritated. It’s this irritation that makes you feel itchy after you shave.
The pull of a razor (especially a dull or used one) can twist or redirect the hair follicle when you shave. This can result in ingrown hairs. Some people refer to this effect as “razor burn.”
Depending on where you shave (bikini line, genital area, under your arms, on your legs, etc.), the area where you’re shaving may be particularly sensitive or prone to getting irritated. The pubic area is among the most prone parts of the body to feeling itchy and “razor-burned,” because it is a very sensitive area for most, and the hair in that area typically is thicker, making it more noticeably uncomfortable when you feel it growing back.
When you shave an area of your skin that’s normally under your clothing, fabric can rub up against your clean-shaven skin and make the irritation feel even worse. Scented soaps and harsh chemicals used on your skin prior to shaving can also irritate or dry out your skin and cause itching.
How to stop itching after shaving
If you’ve already shaved and you’re experiencing uncomfortable itching, here are some ideas for how to treat it at home.
Try a hydrocortisone cream
These steroid creams have been shown to reduce irritation, inflammation, and itching. While these creams are available at prescription requiring strength, you can also purchase it at a lower concentration over-the-counter. In fact, you probably already have some in your medicine cabinet. Be careful to only use hydrocortisone cream topically, and avoid using it in the vaginal area.
Apply a warm compress to shaving bumps
Using a warm, damp washcloth, you can compress the area where you have discomfort. Adding a small amount of sea salt to the water solution on the washcloth may also enhance the healing process and reduce itching.
Use an all-natural moisturizer
To soothe your skin after shaving, try to apply a cooling, hypo-allergenic moisturizer with all-natural ingredients. Aloe vera has anecdotal healing properties that make it a great ingredient for this purpose. Witch hazel has astringent and antibacterial properties, which may protect against bacteria and prevent a skin infection if you’re prone to getting ingrown hairs. Both aloe vera and witch hazel will soothe your skin and calm irritation.
Use white tea bags to bring down inflammation
Tea bags contain tannic acid, which is an anti-inflammatory agent. Make sure that any tea bags that you use on your skin have cooled completely. You can even cool them down in the refrigerator for an added cooling effect.
Hold the teabags against your skin until you see or feel the redness and irritation begin to go down.
Keep skin uncovered or wear loose clothing until your itching stops
Covering your skin immediately after shaving causes two things to happen. One, your clean-shaven skin is now coming into direct contact with fabrics that are causing you to sweat or chafe. Two, the detergents that you use to clean your clothes are now rubbing against your skin, possibly making itching even worse. Spend some time in the buff after shaving, or wear loose, breathable, natural fabrics while you wait for your itching to go away.
Don’t shave again until your itching subsides and any bumps you have go away.
How to prevent itchiness after shaving
Prevention is the best way to address recurring itchiness after shaving. Here are some steps you can follow every time you shave your legs, bikini line, or genital areas to prevent razor burn and itching.
- Before you shave an area of your skin, trim any hairs that are longer than half an inch with a small safety scissor. You can use a small hand mirror held between your legs to make sure you don’t miss any hard-to-see places
- Don’t ever shave your skin when it’s dry. Run your shower hot, and let it steam for at least two minutes while you soak your skin under the water. This will give your skin some extra moisture, open your pores, and make hairs easier to shave.
- Use a fresh razor whenever possible. Different kinds of razors will all have a different shelf life. But for best results, shave sensitive areas with a brand-new razor blade every time.
- Condition the area with an all-natural shaving cream or a hair conditioner prior to shaving. Use one that’s specifically formulated for sensitive skin. Don’t use your shower gel lather or bar soap on the hair you’re trying to shave.
- Stretch your skin taut and shave in the direction that your hair grows. Give yourself time to shave carefully and correctly. It’ll give you a longer time between shaves, and it will also reduce the potential for itching and discomfort afterwards if you don’t’ have to rush.
- Immediately after shaving, use a cooling gel, like pure aloe vera or witch hazel. You can also buy special hypoallergenic oils or lotion to soothe your skin after shaving.
When to see a doctor
Shaving irritation, bumps, and itching are common symptoms that most people experience after shaving. A little bit of prep work goes a long way in preventing these symptoms.
If itching or redness don’t go away within three days of shaving, or if you see crust, blood, or pus around the area where your hair is growing back, you might have a skin infection. Call your doctor and describe what you see if you suspect that your skin has become infected from shaving.
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