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Shave Bumps: Do You Need More than Just Adjusted Grooming Habits?

These recurrent pimple-like skin lesions, known as folliculitis, occur on the face in the beard area, nape of the neck, and sometimes the scalp. This is a common skin condition in men and can occur as a result of shaving after which the regrowth of individual (usually coarse) hairs pierce the skin while growing out, promoting hair follicle irritation and infection. The inflamed hair follicles look like pimples (acne) and appear either as solid or pus-filled bumps on the skin’s surface. On the scalp and neck, bumps may occur after close shaving or from repeatedly scratching due to seborrheic dermatitis.

Effective treatments include the use of a mild benzoyl peroxide lotion, 1-2% salicylic acid wash, or topical antibiotics such as clindamycin gel. Growing out the beard or neck hairs after a close shave (even a few days’ worth can be enough) often eliminates the problem—until the next close shave. Aveeno Sensitive Skin Shaving Gel can be helpful when used in combination with the above products and medications.

Like many skin conditions, adjusting grooming habits to avoid triggering or worsening the problem is necessary to manage shave bumps and folliculitis. Sometimes a short course of oral antibiotics for a couple of weeks may be needed to control an extensive outbreak, especially when located on the scalp.

Lillian Soohoo, MD, Board-Certified Dermatologist  |  GSD Mountain View, CA & Los Gatos, CA

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