Razor burn

Razor burn

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Reddened instead of smooth skin after shaving

The beard shave has a few annoying pitfalls for many men. In addition to unwanted cuts, the razor burn is one of the most unpleasant consequences. This is characterized by itchy to burning reddening of the shaved skin, which can also cause very unsightly pimples. This skin irritation usually subsides after a short time. Occasionally, the razor burn also leads to serious inflammation, which then requires medical treatment. Find out important details about razor burn and suitable preventive and treatment measures below.

How does the razor burn develop?

Basically, the razor burn is based on skin irritation, which usually arises from the fact that the uppermost skin cells are accidentally removed during shaving. Shaving pimples also occur when parts of incompletely shaved hair follicles slide back under the skin, wax in there and provoke irritation under the skin. In addition to the reddening of the skin typical of razor burn and associated with itching or burning, there are also badly reddened pimples, which in the worst case can catch fire.

The straightforward razor burn is clear from the inflammatory variant, the Pseudofolliculitis barbae (PFB) to differentiate. The latter is significantly more problematic and can lead to permanent scarring of the skin in the beard area due to chronic courses. It also harbors Pseudofolliculitis barbae the risk of serious infections that manifest themselves in the area of ​​inflammation.

Corresponding infection processes are often caused by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus caused. Untreated, this infection sometimes penetrates very deeply into the skin tissue and is then called Sycosis barbae designated. In the course of this deep-seated and inflammatory staphylococcal infection, highly complicated carbuncles develop, which result in a persistent emptying disorder of the hair follicles and can hardly be removed without antibiotics.

Causes of razor burn

Above all, an increased risk of getting a razor burn from abrasions or ingrown hair follicles is associated with incorrect shaving techniques and inadequate hygiene measures. In addition, the texture of the whiskers also seems to play a crucial role.

Wrong shaving technique

Again and again it is pointed out that shaving against the direction of hair growth is an additional irritation for the skin. This applies not only to the facial skin, but also to the skin in the leg, armpit and pubic area. By guiding the razor blade against the natural growth direction of the hair, the hair follicles are additionally roughened. Unfortunately, many use this technique because afterwards the shave appears to be smoother. As soon as the hair grows back, many affected people quickly notice that they are more stubborn than before. And rough follicle stubble also paves the way for the razor burn. Even more, because this leads to an inflammatory variant of the razor burn, because the roughened hair follicles also irritate the subcutaneous tissue.

Another “technical mistake” when shaving with regard to razor burn is dry shaving. Wet skin, like wet hair, is usually softer and is therefore easier to treat with a razor blade. In the dry state, however, the skin is usually very rough and the hair also offers greater resistance. In this way, minor micro-injuries to the skin and roughened hair follicles can occur much more easily. The worst combination is shaving against the direction of hair growth on dry skin.

Wrong shaving tool

Old or blunt razor blades are another risk factor when it comes to razor burn. A clean cut is hardly possible with a blunt blade, so that there is increased scraping of the skin flakes and thus redness and skin irritation. In addition, there are often more contaminants on old razor blades, which increase the risk of inflammation and infection. The danger of becoming one Pseudofolliculitis barbae or even one Sycosis barbae It is therefore much larger to pull in with outdated blades.

Lack of hygiene and care measures

As already mentioned, poorly cleaned razor blades are almost a guarantee for the emergence of razor burn. However, poorly cleaned skin can also lead to irritation, redness and inflammation. Furthermore, freshly shaved skin areas on the face should always be treated with a suitable aftershave for disinfection. And problems can also arise here.

Assuming that the facial skin is extremely sensitive to aggressive additives in care products, choosing the wrong aftershave can also favor a razor burn. The same applies to old products that have long passed their expiry date. In such a case, the additives in care products often give rise to by-products that are due to decay and damage the skin more than they use it.

Bad hair follicle texture

Very robust or heavily curled hair follicles are more prone to razor burn than smooth or thin follicles. For this reason, people with very thick or curly hair often have to struggle with razor burn. Men and women of African or Hispanic descent are particularly troubled by skin irritation after shaving, as their hair is very resistant and usually also frizzy, which literally means a bumpy shave and thus an increased degree of skin and hair follicle irritation.

Concomitant symptoms

Actually, the razor burn is in itself a symptom complex that consists of various accompanying symptoms. It is certainly characteristic of the clearly visible reddening of the skin, which is accompanied by itching and burning, which ultimately gave the razor burn its name. In addition, depending on the severity of the razor burn, there are also inflammatory processes and tissue irritation. All in all, the following symptoms cannot be excluded for razor burn:

  • Burning sensation on the skin,
  • Skin irritation,
  • Skin inflammation,
  • Itching,
  • Boil,
  • Pimples or pustules (partly with pus formation),
  • Pain (especially pressure pain)
  • and profound tissue damage.


A razor burn can usually be easily identified by those affected simply by eye diagnosis. As long as the skin irritation subsides within a few days, there is no need to worry. On the other hand, patients should be alerted if the razor burn lasts for weeks and also causes symptoms such as severe pain or large pimples. The visit to your family doctor or dermatologist is definitely recommended. The hair follicles can be examined more closely here and, if necessary, biopsies or hair samples can be taken in order to identify infectious agents, if necessary.


If a razor burn needs to be treated medically, antibiotic drugs are often without alternative to stop worse infection processes early. There are also some good naturopathic remedies and private measures that can help those affected to treat the razor burn or prevent it in the future.


Fortunately, antibiotics rarely need to be used to treat razor burn. However, if this is the case, then mostly anti-inflammatory and antibiotic agents are used. For example, creams and gels made from hydrocortisone or benzoyl peroxide are conceivable. Antibiotics such as doxycycline or erythromycin can also be used.

Medicinal herbs

Herbal medicinal products can be used to combat razor burn by applying herbal compresses or herbal oils. The main medicinal plants are:

  • Aloe vera,
  • Honey,
  • Johannis herbs,
  • Chamomile,
  • Manuka honey,
  • Marigold
  • and tea tree.

A special tip is cold compresses that have been soaked in cold herbal tea beforehand. Because cooling is just as important for skin irritation as healing agents. For example, a cold honey quark chamomile compress has proven itself. Special herbal ointments such as Manuka ointment are also recommended.

Home remedies

Speaking of cooling: You can also put cool packs or ice cubes wrapped in linen on the irritated skin for a short time. The cold effect also closes the pores, so that no pathogens can migrate into the irritated skin tissue.

Possibly problematic care products such as aftershaves or facial tonic should be disposed of and replaced with skin-friendly products such as baby powder or natural aftershaves without artificial additives. Old razors should also be removed immediately and should be replaced more often in the future. In addition, wet shaving is preferable to dry shaving. In addition, when shaving, make sure that you shave with the direction of hair growth and not against the direction of growth. This is especially true for people with very robust hair.

Basically, it is advisable to stop shaving in the event of a razor burn for a longer period of time in order to give the affected skin areas enough time to regenerate and soothe. In the event of recurring razor burns on the legs or in the genital area, women should consider alternative methods of hair removal such as waxing, sugaring, epilation or creams for hair removal. Men, in turn, should only use high-quality razors for bar shaving and refrain from cheap disposable razors. Alternatively, you can follow the warning signal on your facial skin and try it with a beard for a change. (ma)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Pfahl, Mary: The great home remedy guide - 70 simple home remedies for various ailments, neobooks Self-Publishing, 2015
  • Plewig, Gerd et al .: Acne and Rosacea, Springer, 1996
  • Schweitzer, Rudolf: The Naturopathic Academy. Dermatology, Elsevier, 2018
  • Maurer, Marcus et al .: "The male beard hair and facial skin - Challenges for shaving", in: International Journal of Cosmetic Science, Volume38, Issue S1 June 2016, Wiley Online Library

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