Those red bumps, irritation and ingrown hairs all caused by shaving or waxing are the last thing you want to see…let alone in your nether regions. Questions about how to get rid of those unsightly, embarrassing bumps are among the most frequently asked on ChickRx. So we’ve compiled six effective strategies you can use to treat those rash-like red bumps next time your skin decides to go haywire after a wax or shave.
If you do get red razor bumps, though, let’s talk about how to treat them. Those bumps are caused by ingrown hairs—hair that curls back on itself and grows into the skin, causing inflammation and redness. Sometimes these ingrown hairs/bumps also get infected, causing folliculitis.
“The best way to treat [ingrown hairs] is to exfoliate well and consistently,” explains dermatologist Dr. Debra Jaliman. The goal with exfoliating is to loosen skin cells and impactions so the hair will be released from the blocked hair follicle. Dr. Jaliman recommends using a sonic cleansing system like the Clarisonic, or the versions made by Neutrogena and Olay. If you’re not already using one of these skincare tools for your face and don’t want to invest, you can always use a loofah instead.Just make sure that if you use a loofah, you switch it out regularly to avoid contaminating your fresh, clean skin with bacteria. (Read here for more on that and other unsanitary habits you may not realize you’re doing in daily life).
If manual exfoliation alone isn’t cutting it for treating your bumps, licensed esthetician Daniela Ferri recommends trying a chemical exfoliant. The best way to do this is by using an acne wash that contains salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Gently massage it onto the affected skin with exfoliating spa gloves, rinse with warm water and pat drying, being careful not to tug or rub too much on the skin—this will only cause more skin damage and inflammation.
Salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide have anti-inflammatory properties that can help treat redness and irritation, but Ferri warns that for some they can be too over-drying. After exfoliating either chemically or manually, you can apply products to further treat and soothe your irritated skin.
To help reduce redness and inflammation, you can apply an aspirin mask to the area with razor burn. Dissolve two aspirin pills in a few drops of water until you achieve a paste-like consistency. Apply this to the affected area for a few minutes and then rinse off completely.
All-Natural Options: Tea Tree Oil & Aloe Vera
You can also take an all-natural, organic approach to soothe razor burn or irritated skin. Try applying either tea tree oil or aloe vera to the skin using a clean cotton ball. These naturally soothing products will help to calm the skin and reduce redness and sensitivity, and you don’t have to worry about any added chemicals or ingredients that might be irritating for sensitive skin.
If you tend to get more severe outbreaks of bumps, you can apply products like Tendskin or FerroRosa FrictionFixTM, These products work by reducing inflammation and itching while reducing refraction, and absorbing moisture and oil that can lead to further breakouts.
If you can’t easily get these products, you can also try a topical corticosteroid cream (hydrocortisone cream), which helps reduce inflammation and pain. If you still do not see improvement, visit your doctor who can prescribe antibiotic creams to remedy the situation.
No Picking, Itching or Friction
Although ingrown hairs and irritation may induce you into a fit of itching and scratching, try not to. This will only irritate the area further and slow your skin’s healing process. And under no circumstances, should you pick at any bumps that are inflamed—you know better.
For the underarms, avoid wearing constructing tops to prevent fabric from rubbing on the skin, as this can hinder the healing process and also cause more bumps to form. Pass on wearing rough pant materials (like jeans) for a few days if you’re dealing with a bout of sensitivity on your legs or bikini area and stick to wearing only cotton underwear (other types of underwear fabric and g-strings can cause friction against your skin and prevent proper healing).
And don’t forget to shower right after your workouts. This will not only help treat bumps from shaving, but prevent blemishes from forming on your back as well.