What is pseudofolliculitis barbae?
Pseudofolliculitis barbae is a type of folliculitis. It also known as follicultis barbae, shaving rash or razor bumps. It is a foreign-body inflammatory reaction surrounding ingrown facial hair, which results from shaving.
What are the features of pseudofolliculitis barbae?
Pseudofolliculitis barbae occurs more commonly in people who have curly hair because the sharp pointed end of a recently shaved hair comes out from the skin and re-enters the skin close by. After shaving, patients may experience a painful acne-like eruption.
The small lesions may be flesh coloured or red and inflamed. If they become infected, pustules and abscesses may develop.
What is the treatment for pseudofolliculitis barbae?
Treatment for pseudofolliculitis barbae depends on the severity of the condition. If possible, let the beard grow for 30 days to eliminate ingrown hairs. When you are ready to shave again, take the following precautions:
- Use a polyester skin-cleansing pad twice a day. Or, use a moisturising shaving foam to cleanse the area.
- Use a single blade razor. Double blade razors cut the hairs too short allowing them to grow in.
- Alternatively, use electric hair clippers or a razor with an attachment that leaves the cut hairs long. Aim to have a 5 o'clock shadow immediately after shaving.
- Shave in the direction of the follicle, not against it. Do not stretch the skin.
- At night, apply a lotion containing glycolic acid to the affected areas. This exfoliates the surface skin cells and reduces the likelihood of new inflamed spots.
If you have severe pseudofolliculitis barbae you may need topical and oral antibiotics.
- Topical antibiotics can help to reduce skin bacteria and treat secondary infection.
- If infection is present then oral antibiotics may be needed. Ask your doctor whether a prolonged course of tetracycline or one of its derivatives would be suitable for you.
Another treatment that may be considered is laser hair removal. In some cases, this is much more effective than any other measure.
If the above measures fail, accept that you have to grow a beard! In certain occupations where beardedness is not approved of, a medical certificate may help.