Razor bumps are uncomfortable. If you have this unfortunate skin rash from shaving, you probably wonder how long razor bumps last.
It is tough to say how long razor bumps last because each case is different. In general, a true case of razor bumps, also called Pseudofolliculitis Barbae (PFB), can last one month or more. Factors such as how the skin is cared for and what products are applied can affect the healing time for razor bumps.
If you’re wondering why skincare matters when it comes to healing razor bumps, and what you can do to get the problem to go away faster, you are not alone. Read on to learn more.
Razor bumps, or PFB, are caused by the natural process of hair growth when it is interrupted by shaving for hair removal. Most commonly PFB occurs on the face and neck but can affect other parts of the body, such as the underarms or thighs. To understand how long razor bumps last, let’s look at how razor bumps begin. It all starts with hair growth.
Hair growth begins with the anagen phase. That is the “growing” phase. During this time, a matrix of cells rapidly multiplies under the skin. This process pushes the older cells of the hair strand out from the skin’s surface. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, 85 to 90 percent of hairs are in this anagen phase. The remaining hairs are in stages of rest when hair eventually dies or falls out. Hair growth is what causes razor bumps to appear in the first place.
After shaving, facial hair begins to regrow. Sometimes, hairs can curl and regrow in the wrong direction. According to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, when body hair, such as a beard, curves and tries to grow back into the skin, the body responds with inflammation and a foreign body reaction. Swollen, reddened, painful bumps appear on the skin as the hair grows. As you can see from the chart, it may take a few days for razor bumps to show up after shaving.
Post-shave razor bumps can also appear as:
These bumps may also bleed easily and can become infected. In some cases, you might see hairs trapped under the skin’s surface. These are called ingrown hairs. These signs indicate a case of razor bumps that will go on if the is responding to the trauma.
Studies show that razor bumps usually go away on their own when you stop shaving.
Hair growth patterns vary depending on a person’s age, sex, and genetics. The average man’s beard grows about 0.27 mm every 24 hours. Consider this timeline.
If left to grow to a length of approximately 10 mm, the entrapped hair will exit the inflamed pocket. In other words, the hair will work its way out of the skin. This growth typically takes approximately five weeks, or 37 days, when growing at 0.27 mm per 24 hours.
Another option is to remove ingrown hairs mechanically. For example, tweezing is one method to remove hairs that have grown back into the skin.
On the other hand, if shaving continues, skin damage can worsen. So will the case of razor bumps. In this case, the skin will continue to respond with inflammation. Signs and symptoms will worsen. Over time, a prolonged inflammatory response can cause a condition known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. It is a type of skin discoloration that is worse in darker skin types. PFB can also lead to permanent scarring. If you have hyperpigmentation, a doctor can recommend over the counter treatments to lessen the appearance of dark spots.
If you have razor bumps, you don’t have to wait for them to go away on their own. Most cases of razor bumps will improve faster with a few simple steps you can take at home. The keys to speed healing are to lower inflammation and to prevent infection. Here are a few steps that can do just that.
1. Wash your clothing thoroughly. That means cloth masks over the face or clothing worn over other body parts. Clothes collect dead skin cells and bacteria that could cause inflammation or infection if worn over skin affected by razor bumps.
2. Cleanse the area with gentle antibacterial soap. Avoid reusing washcloths or using body poufs. Using a clean cloth each time will prevent bacteria from irritating skin more.
3. After cleaning the skin, apply a moisturizer to the area. Lotions and creams with salicylic acid can also help symptoms.
4. Consider over-the-counter products to reduce inflammation and prevent infection. Some of these options include antibiotic ointment or hydrocortisone cream. Natural plant-based and herbal remedies such as tea tree oil or witch hazel calm aggravated skin.
5. Avoid further irritation. Avoid shaving the area again until the bumps go away. When razor bumps are in the face or neck areas, it might be necessary to grow a beard. While the hair is growing, keep the hair clean to prevent skin infection.
You should see a medical professional when razor bumps don’t go away. If you try these steps to soothe the skin, but your signs and symptoms become worse, a doctor should evaluate your razor bumps.
If you stop shaving, but the bumps do not resolve in 4-5 weeks, a healthcare provider should evaluate the skin condition. Some cases might require medication, prescription cleansers, special creams, or other treatments.
While it’s true that severe cases of razor bumps can cause permanent skin damage, don’t jump to that conclusion right away if you are worried about stubborn bumps that just don’t go away, make an appointment to talk with a healthcare provider.
Now that you know how long razor bumps last and what causes them use these tips to get rid of bumps faster. And when home care doesn’t work, talk to your doctor.
Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice. The information, graphics, and images on this site are not intended to substitute diagnosis or treatment by a medical professional. Always seek the advice of a licensed physician for any questions you may have regarding a specific condition.