Lifestyle

Razor bumps and keloids from shaving

By Dr Patricia Yap

Saturday, September 01, 2012    

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Often people associate razor bumps with men shaving. However, razor bumps can occur on any spot that has been shaved, whether you are male or female. So you can have razor bumps on the nape of your neck, your bearded area, your underarms and even your pubic area!

Normally hair resides and grows within the hair follicle. After shaving, sometimes the hair will grow inward or sideways through the follicle. This action causes the tip of the hair to pierce the surrounding skin, causing inflammation and intense itching of the affected area. The intense itching provokes scratching. The broken skin allows bacteria to enter the hair follicle which worsens the inflammation, giving rise to pimples, pain and even fever! In dark-skinned persons, the inflammation causes the melanocytes (pigment factory) to produce excess pigmentation (dark spots or hyperpigmentation), making the area unsightly and socially embarrassing. In predisposed individuals (eg blacks and Asians), sometimes after the wound heals and a band of raised scars called keloids can be seen on the skin.

Management

Prevention is better than cure! Keloids are difficult to treat and can be permanent.

— Always use a clean razor with sharp blades to shave

— To improve the gliding ability of the razor you can use a shaving foam (Gillette, ariSulfur bar) to shave.

— Use an antibacterial aftershave (Tend skin, ariToner ) to kill any bacteria that may infect the skin.

— Use an exfoliating agent (ariAftershave lotion) daily to remove the dead skin in order to aid the hair out of the hair follicle. This action also removes the piercing hair tips from causing inflammation as well as removing the dark spots.

— If hair grows inward or sideways, lift the hair out with a sterile needle and clip the hair close to the skin. DO NOT PULL OUT THE HAIR! Pulling the hair out only gives temporary relief. In people with curly hair, the new hair will pierce the surface of the skin, repeating the vicious cycle.

— If the area is irritated, painful and associated with pus-filled hair follicles with or without fever, see a doctor immediately.

— Keloids can be socially embarrassing, as well as physically and emotionally scarring. They can be treated successfully if caught early. Consult a dermatologist before they become too large.

— If this condition occurs often, then laser hair removal is the treatment of choice. The energy from laser causes "explosion" of the hair root and prevents new hair growth. The newer generation of lasers now available in Jamaica are made for people with dark skin and the side effects are minimal.

Next week , I will highlight "liver spots" -pityriasis versicolor, a common skin condition at this time of the year.

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