Tips for Treating and Avoiding Shaving Rash
Unfortunately, the dreaded shaving rash is a condition that plagues both men and women. More commonly termed "razor burn", this type of rash can appear not only when one zips through the shaving process because they're in a rush, but also when one takes the time to go slowly. So, if it isn't a case of shaving too quickly, then what does cause shaving rash? We're going to discuss the causes behind razor bun as well as treatments to help rid your skin of those burning red patches quicker.
The main cause behind shaving rash, or "pseudofolliculitis barbae" as it is termed in the medical world, is more likely to affect regions with curly hair, but it can occur on any skin that you shave. Shaving one's pubic region is a good example and can result in particularly nasty razor burn because as these hairs are normally much more curly than the hairs on the rest of the body. As these hairs grow in length, the added weight allows them to straighten slightly. As soon as they are cut during the shaving process, the hair that remains in the follicle immediately tries to curl because it doesn't have the added weight to straighten it as it breeches the opening of the hair follicle. These hairs can turn ingrown, which is another (painful!) matter entirely, but the main issue these curly hairs pose for the surrounding skin is that they rub against the follicle, irritating the skin there.
As you well know, curly hair isn't the only culprit behind this irritating condition. The skin of the face, legs, armpits, and wherever else you shave can easily become irritated if it is not properly moisturized before and during shaving. A dull razor can also lead to the development or razor burn because we tend to go over spots repeatedly to get that close shave. In the end, the more times you go over skin with a razor, the more likely it is to become irritated. The same effect happens when you push too hard on your razor while you shave, again, trying to get as close a shave as possible.
The truth is, as much as we love having silky soft skin for a couple of days, it really isn't a good idea to get as close a shave as possible. Rather, it is recommended that we shave just to "skin level" without pulling or tightening the skin for an ultra close cut. This means shaving more often (probably every day or every other day for most of us), but this sure beats trying to deal with razor burn for a few days. While pulling the skin taught while shaving does cut the hairs much shorter, it also causes a lot of damage to the skin during the process.
Now that you understand what caused the shaving rash, you're probably ready to learn how to get rid of it. First off, perfumed lotion is a no-no. Your skin has just been ravaged by a razor and perfumed lotions can further irritation to a huge degree. Lotions designed to be applied after shaving, such as men's after-shave balm or plain 'ole Vitamin E lotion will help re-hydrate the skin and offer a layer of protection against clothing and the elements. If you can, apply this a few times throughout the day to ensure that the skin doesn't become dry. Alternatively, you can slap on some hydrating (non-perfumed) body oil to the area. Oil directed towards sensitive skin is best, but you can also grab a cheap bottle of off-brand baby oil which will essentially provide the same effect. Oil is also great because you don't have to reapply it as often.
You can prevent getting razor burn by using new razors and disposing of them often. If you don't use disposable razors, be sure to replace the head often, or in the case of an electric razor you should clean the head on a regular basis. Anything with more than two blades is much likelier to provide too close a shave and leave you with razor burn, so try steering clear of the triple and up blades. If you're a guy, apply the shaving foam and allow your whiskers and skin to soak for a bit. This will not only soften the hairs for a smoother shave, but it will also give your skin a boost of hydration before you shave. As for the gals (or guys who shave their legs), try taking a bath on the days you need to shave. Let your legs soak as long as possible before shaving (which would mean that shaving should be one of the last things you do before hopping out of the tub). Soap isn't a good shaving agent, as it tends to have a drying effect. Also, try to keep a firm grip but exert gentle pressure on the razor when you shave. Pressing too hard against the skin is a sure way to acquire shaving rash. A good shave gel or foam is the best choice, especially if you leave it on for a bit before you start shaving. As soon as you're done shaving, apply a good Vitamin E cream or body oil to the freshly shaved skin.
Hopefully you will find these tips useful in treating and avoiding future bouts of shaving rash!