How To Put An End to Ingrown Hairs

Dealing with razor bumps or ingrown hairs? You’re not alone. Pseudofolliculitis barbae (PFB), also known as razor bumps, is a common skin issue, particularly for those with naturally curly hair who shave. In this guide, we’ll break down what causes razor bumps and explore effective prevention and treatment options.

Understanding Razor Bumps

Razor bumps occur when sharp, curly hair ends penetrate the skin, triggering inflammation. This can lead to the development of papules, pustules, hyperpigmentation, and scarring. While anyone with thick, curly hair can experience PFB, it disproportionately affects Black individuals, with 45% to 83% reporting symptoms compared to 18% of White individuals.

Prevention Tips

  • Hydrate the face with warm water before shaving.
  • Use a pre-shave lotion.
  • Shave with a single pass from top to bottom.
  • Apply a post-razor hydration lotion after shaving.
  • Consider using single-bladed razors for less trauma and hair retraction.
  • Shave in the evening to allow time for proper pre-shave and post-shave care.
  • Explore waterless shaving options with a-hydroxy acid-containing products.

Treatment Options

  • Tretinoin cream or gel (0.025%, 0.05%, or 0.1%) for moderate cases.
  • Adapalene cream 0.1% as an alternative to tretinoin.
  • Oral doxycycline or topical benzoyl peroxide-clindamycin for bacterial infections.
  • Azelaic acid for post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
  • Depilatories: Consider barium sulfide to dull hair ends and reduce re-entry into the skin. Some may avoid depilatories due to their strong odor, messy application, and potential irritation.
  • Laser Hair Removal: High-wavelength lasers target hair follicles, reducing hair growth.
    • 1064-nm long-pulse Nd:YAG laser for skin types IV, V, and VI. 
    • Alexandrite 755-nm long-pulse laser for skin types I to III. 
    • Side effects may include discomfort, blistering, dyspigmentation, and rare instances of paradoxical hair growth.
  • Eflornithine Cream: Approved by the US FDA for hirsutism treatment. It can be used alone or in conjunction with laser hair removal for PFB treatment.


Managing razor bumps involves a combination of preventive measures and targeted treatments. Explore these options to achieve smoother, healthier skin and bid farewell to the woes of ingrown hairs.


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