Razor bumps (pseudofolliculitis barbae), or razor burn, are small bumps in the skin that develop after shaving. As well as looking like pimples, which can completely spoil the attractive clean-shaven look, razor bumps can also be sore. Over time, these seemingly minor shaving bumps can develop into permanent scar tissue.

Additionally, ingrown hairs curl and penetrate the skin with the tip, causing swelling and inflammation of skin. Ingrown hairs can be surgically removed, or can also be treated with laser, or prescription medications.

There are actually two types of razor bumps: extrafollicular and transfollicular. In the former case, the hair turns around and grows inwards without exiting the skin at all. In transfollicular razor bumps, however, the hair exits the skin and reenters it, so you may be able to see a small amount of exposed hair. Ingrown hairs can be surgically removed, or can also be treated with laser, or prescription medications.

There are several treatment options to deal with razor bumps already present. They include:

  • Moisturizers
  • Retinoids
  • Steroids
  • Antibiotics
  • Alpha-hydroxy acids
  • Chemical peels
  • Microdermabrasion


Frequently Asked Questions

What causes razor bumps?


Hair grows inside the tubes in the skin called “follicles.” When shaved, the tip of the hair is left with a sharp point. As the curly hair grows, this sharp tip may curve back and pierce the skin. The medical term for this cause of PFB is “Transfollicular Penetration.”

The body treats all ingrown hairs just as it would a splinter or any other foreign object by producing an inflammatory pimple-like bump. Often, if the condition occurs over an extended period of time, the skin will respond by producing unsightly dark spots at the sites of the PFB bumps. Unfortunately, these dark spots can take many months to fade.


What can I do about razor bumps?

The best therapy is to avoid shaving and let the beard grow. However, this is not always a practical solution. If you do shave, the following step-by-step program is recommended.

It should be noted if Doctor Torres feels that your condition is extreme, you should let your beard grow out for several weeks before proceeding. As the hair lengthens, the shaft will act like miniature “springs” and eventually “pop free.” Doctor Torres may even prescribe a short course of antibiotic pills and will tell you when to begin the anti-PFB shaving program.

How long does it take for my skin to improve from razor bumps?

It may take a few days to several weeks for your condition to improve. Sometimes it can even take a few months to see improvement. Stay with the program and do not give up. The amount of success that you experience will be directly related to the amount of effort that you put into the program. The goal is not necessarily to have “perfect” skin, but to significantly improve your current skin condition. Many patients do experience extremely satisfying results.

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Call us to schedule your appointment today at (212) 673-5633 or visit us at one of our conveniently located New York offices to learn more about our extensive line of cosmetic dermatology procedures and how they could transform your appearance.