How to Get Rid of Razor Bumps — And Prevent Them In the First Place

A comprehensive how-to guide for smoother days.

Person in a bikini in the ocean
Photo: Matthius Clamer/Getty Images

Razor bumps can be a real drag. In the hopes of getting a smooth, hairless bikini line, we're sometimes left with these red, inflamed bumps post-shave. But even when we're being super careful about removing hair, we somehow still end up with razor bumps. Why? According to experts, there are certain factors that may be contributing to this skin condition. To learn more, including how to get rid of stubborn razor bumps fast, we tapped top dermatologists for their professional advice and tips.

Keep scrolling for our complete guide on how to get rid of razor bumps.

What Causes Razor Bumps?

Razor bumps, also known as pseudofolliculitis, are essentially inflamed hair follicles and their surrounding area caused by hairs trapped beneath the skin surface, explains Dr. Orit Markowitz, a board-certified dermatologist and the founder of OptiSkin in NYC.

It turns out, they are directly related to the texture and growth pattern of the hair on the area of the body you're shaving. "Razor bumps are caused by an inflammatory reaction when terminal (thick, dark, mature) hairs that have previously been shaved try to re-emerge from the skin but become trapped," says Dr. Melanie Palm, a Solana Beach CA-based board-certified dermatologist and director of Art of Skin MD. "The hair curves back under the skin or continues under the skin's surface and causes red or dark brown raised bumps centered around each hair follicle unit."

How Can You Quickly Get Rid of Razor Bumps?

On the upside, there are a few possible quick fixes for these pesky razor bumps. Both Dr. Palm and Dr. Markowitz recommend applying an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream to the affected area. A salicylic acid cream from your drugstore's acne aisle works, too.

Dr. Jennifer MacGregor, a board-certified dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology in NYC, recommends trying a benzoyl peroxide wash between shaves. She likes the Neutrogena Clear Pore Cleanser and Mask. (Bonus: It can also be left on as a mask for five minutes two to three times a week, she adds). Dr. MacGregor suggests using SkinSmart Antimicrobial Spray daily to remove any bacteria from the area, as well.

Can You Prevent Razor Bumps?

Aside from permanent hair removal, there's no real way to completely prevent razor bumps. That being said, if you're prone to getting razor bumps, there are a few steps you can take in your skincare routine that will help you get a smoother finish when you're shaving.

In the shower, use a loofah with a cleanser, because the puff can help the trapped hair re-emerge faster. "Use of a gentle exfoliating ingredient such as salicylic acid may reduce the likelihood that skin will trap a re-emerging hair from its follicle," suggests Dr. Palm. When you're shaving, use a fresh razor that has multiple blades, shaving cream, and always work in the direction of hair growth. Dr. Markowitz also advises changing your razor often and never using a dull blade.

When Should You See a Dermatologist?

If all else fails and the problem persists, Dr. Markowitz suggests seeking help from your dermatologist, who can either inject anti-inflammatories to treat the bumps or prescribe oral antibiotics.

Dr. MacGregor adds that sometimes nicks from shaving can further irritate or infect the skin, creating a more widespread problem. "Infections of the hair follicles (folliculitis) can also cause bumps or pustules," she tells us. In that case, it's best to see your doctor for treatment.

For a more long-term solution, both Dr. MacGregor and Dr. Markowitz say that laser hair removal is the best permanent solution. "There are several different types of lasers available to treat hair removal and your derm would be able to recommend the best option for you and your skin/hair type," says Dr. Markowitz.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Are certain hair types and textures more likely to be associated with razor bumps?

    Curly hair, hair that grows against the grain, or areas with high skin friction are more prone to razor bumps.

  • Is it OK to pick a razor bump?

    No. Dr. Markowitz strictly urges resisting the temptation to pick. Instead, she recommends using a warm compress to open the pore in an attempt to release the trapped hair.

  • Will applying lotion and deodorant post-shave cause razor bumps?

    Despite popular belief, immediately applying your usual lotion and deodorant post-shave won't increase your chances of getting razor bumps. However, these products can make things worse. "A topical such as a deodorant or lotion can be potentially irritating to sensitive skin or occlusive to a hair follicle, so it could worsen the case of razor bumps," says Dr. Palm.

Related Articles