This article was co-authored by R. Sonia Batra, MD, MSc, MPH. Dr. R. Sonia Batra is a board certified Dermatologist and the Founder of Batra Dermatology based in Los Angeles, California. With over 15 years of experience, Dr. Batra specializes in lasers, medical devices, patient and public medical education, and skin cancer research. She received her Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree in Public Health, and her Doctor of Medicine (MD) degrees from Harvard University. As a Rhodes Scholar, she earned a Master’s degree in Molecular Genetics at the University of Oxford. She completed her residency training in Dermatology at Stanford University. Dr. Batra has contributed and reviewed for the Journal of Dermatologic Surgery, the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, and JAMA Dermatology. She is also a co-host of CBS’ Emmy award-winning television show, The Doctors.
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Razor bumps are not only an unsightly by-product of hair removal, but they can become infected and cause you pain and skin problems. The bikini area can be particularly problematic because the skin is so sensitive. Follow along after the jump to learn how to treat the bumps and get back to smooth, irritation-free skin.
Method 1Method 1 of 3:Treating Razor Bumps
- 1Treat infection with aloe vera then lotion, to leave your skin clear and smooth. If you suspect that you have infected ingrown hairs, try using an antibacterial cream on them each day. Bacitracin, Neosporin, and Polysporin are all possible topical treatments.XResearch source
- 2Use a product that's designed to treat razor bumps. Look for something that contains salicylic acid, glycolic acid, witch hazel, aloe, or any combination of these ingredients.XExpert SourceR. Sonia Batra, MD, MSc, MPH
Board Certified DermatologistExpert Interview. 14 May 2021. Some of these products might come in a roller bottle that's designed to go directly on your skin, while others might require you to put the solution on a cotton ball and dab it on your skin.XResearch source
- If you don't know what to buy, call your local waxing salon and ask what they recommend to their clients. You can probably purchase the product there as well, or look around online.
- Apply the solution to your skin at least once per day, if not more. Aim to do it when you get out of the shower, before your skin has sweat or anything else on it.
- 3Let the hair grow out a bit before shaving again. Shaving over razor bumps will only irritate or tear them open, leaving them vulnerable to infection (and probably not removing much hair in the process). If you can, let the hair grow for a few days and see if it breaks out of the bumps on its own.XResearch source
- 4Resist the urge to scratch the area. It might itch, but breaking the bumps with your fingernails can lead to infection and scarring. Try to hold off as much as you can.XResearch source
- 5Treat scarring with Retin-A. Retinoids, derived from Vitamin A, can help smooth over skin and reduce the appearance of scars or marks left by razor bumps.XResearch source
- You might need to see a doctor for a prescription.
- Do not use Retin-A if you're pregnant or breastfeeding. It can cause severe birth defects.XResearch source
- Areas treated with Retin-A are more susceptible to sunburns. Cover up, or wear SPF 45 sunscreen.XResearch source
- Don't use Retin-A on any areas where you plan to wax in the future.— It can make the skin significantly weaker, leading to potential tearing during a waxing session.
- 6See a dermatologist. If your razor bumps persist for several weeks, and you haven't shaved again, consider booking an appointment with a dermatologist.
Method 2Method 2 of 3:Preventing Razor Bumps
- 1Throw out any dull razors. A dull or rusty razor can keep you from getting a clean shave, whether it's by snagging hairs instead of cutting them, or irritating the skin around the follicle.XResearch source
- 2Shave every other day, at the most. Shaving every day can irritate new bumps, so try to wait and only use a razor every second day. If you can, shaving every third day is even better.
- 3Exfoliate gently. Not enough exfoliation to remove excess layers of skin causes ingrown hairs. Daily exfoliation will prevent razor bumps because the hair will never get a chance to regrow towards the skin and become trapped. Exfoliation will clear off any dead skin cells or other material on your skin, paving the way for a close and clean shave. You can use: chemical exfoliation (coffee scrub, liquids, etc) or physical exfoliation (gloves, loofah, or an ingrown hair prevention brush) or whatever works best for you 2-3 times a week. If you have sensitive skin, then go with the soft and firm bristles.XExpert SourceR. Sonia Batra, MD, MSc, MPH
Board Certified DermatologistExpert Interview. 14 May 2021.
- If your skin is sensitive, consider exfoliating on your "off" day from shaving.
- If your skin handles exfoliation with minimal irritation, try doing it right before you shave.
- 5Try not to go over the same area twice. If you missed too much to overlook, make the second pass with the grain, instead of against it.XResearch source
- Shaving against the grain means to move the razor in the direction opposite of hair growth. For instance, most people are shaving against the grain when they run a razor from their ankle to their knee.
- Shaving with the grain creates less irritation, but not as close a shave. Try to use this technique as much as you can if you're going back over an area you've already shaved.
- 6Shave in the shower. The steam from a warm shower serves two purposes: it makes the hair softer, and your skin less prone to nicks and irritation.XTrustworthy SourceCleveland ClinicEducational website from one of the world's leading hospitalsGo to source
- If you usually shave first, consider reorganizing your shower tasks so that you do it last. Try to give it five minutes before you start shaving.
- If you don't have time to shower, wet a washcloth with water that's as warm as you can stand, and lay it over the area you're going to shave. Try to leave it for two or three minutes before shaving.
- 7Use shaving cream (or a substitute). Shaving cream can also soften hairs and make them easier to remove (as well as making it easier to track where you've shaved and where you haven't).
- Find a cream that includes aloe or other moisturizing compounds.
- If you're in a pinch and have no shaving cream, use hair conditioner instead. It's better than nothing!
- 8Rinse off with cold water. Ending your shower with a blast of cold water, or using a cold washcloth on the area, will cause your pores to temporarily contract, leaving them less vulnerable to irritants and infection.
- Contrary to the popular myth, cold water doesn't "close" your pores. The cold temperatures may cause pores to contract slightly, but the effect is only temporary and minimal. There's no harm in rinsing with cold water, but if you find this step notably unpleasant, you should be able to skip it without much consequence.XResearch source
- 9Pat the area dry. Don't rub yourself dry harshly with a towel. Instead, dry your bikini area in small taps, saving your skin a load of irritation.
Method 3Method 3 of 3:Long-Term Prevention
- 1Consider waxing for long-term prevention. In the short-term, waxing typically causes more ingrown hairs than shaving does, so this might seem like a less than ideal solution. However, waxing consistently over long periods of time can slow hair growth, so you'll need to wax less often and will experience fewer ingrown hairs in the long-run. If you do decide to wax, just make sure you stick with it consistently to see the results you want!
- If you do decide to wax, aim to make an appointment every six to eight weeks in the beginning. You might be able to go for longer stretches without waxing later.
- Choose a reputable waxing salon. Ask around, or search reviews online.
- Know what to expect. Your skin will probably be a little red and irritated when you leave, but you shouldn't have open cuts or dark, widespread bruises. Additionally, if you notice that your skin is infected a day or two after your appointment, start applying an antibiotic cream and notify the salon immediately.
- 2Consider laser hair removal. Contrary to popular belief, laser hair removal won't completely remove your hair forever. However, it will significantly reduce growth.XResearch source
- Be aware that laser hair removal works best on dark hair and light skin. If your skin and your hair are too close to the same color (whether it's too light or too dark), you might not be a good candidate for treatment.
- Laser hair removal is expensive, and you'll need at least four to six treatments. Price it out and watch for promotions.
How Can You Prevent Dark Spots Related To Shaving?
- QuestionWhat are the best products to get rid of razor bumps?Exfoliate with a chemical exfoliant that contains alpha hydroxy acid or beta hydroxy acid. You'll find those ingredients in a glycolic lotion or glycolic wash, or salicylic lotion or salicylic wash.
- QuestionShould I apply a chemical exfoliant like glycolic lotion before or after I shave?It can sting quite a lot if you put it on right when you shave, or even right before you shave. I would say on days you're actually not shaving, that would be the best time to apply it.
- QuestionHow do I get rid of scars from ingrown hairs?Try scar gels that have an active ingredient of silicone. They're over-the-counter products, which are supported by data, and they help to soften and flatten scars.
- QuestionHow do I not get razor bumps when I shave my bikini area?Community AnswerThis a good trick that I've use for a long time and haven't gotten bumps since. You first want to wash the area very well. Then you want to put your shaving cream or conditioner on the area, and then you shave downward instead of upward. Then you want to wash off with cold water.
- QuestionIs it just an ingrown hair on my bikini line if it hurts to the touch?Community AnswerYou might want to see your gynecologist. There are a number of things it could be, but it could be as insignificant as a rash. It's always better to be cautious just in case. Apply aloe or Neosporin a few times and if you don't get good or any results, see a gynecologist.
- QuestionWhat's the best way to shave the butt area? It's hard to see.Community AnswerSquat down in the shower. You'll have much better reach and you can use your hands to feel where the hair is.
- QuestionI used Nair, and still got hair bumps. What can I do differently?Community AnswerDo not use Nair on your private areas! You risk chemical burns, which is an even bigger hassle than hair bumps. Try shaving using the guidelines in the article, or try one of the alternative methods the article suggests.
- QuestionHow do razor bumps occur?Community AnswerWhen you shave, part of the hair can curl back toward the skin, which causes irritation.
- QuestionHow can I get rid of razor bumps in 3 - 4 days?Community AnswerPut on aftershave cream, and gently apply lotion to area. Coconut oil and other oils help. Keep it very moisturized, and try not to touch it or wear tight pants.
- QuestionIs it best to have two different razors - one for my legs and one for my bikini area?Community AnswerYes, it's good to have to separate ones because that way you're preventing the risk of any infections.
- Wear cotton underwear after shaving, not Nylon or spandex based underwear.
- Aloe Vera works like a charm. Use it at least twice a day until they are gone. The razor bumps should go away very quickly.
- Never dry shave. Do it in a shower with warm/hot water. It opens up the hair follicles and softens the skin which is less damaging than dry shaving. If you shave with cold water the hair follicles will stay closed, so don’t use cold water until after you finish shaving. Also, try using aloe Vera. It’s good for your skin (dryness, irritation, etc.) and it's very refreshing.
- Try to moisturize (preferably with non-scented lotion, it's better for your skin) consistently throughout the day. Without your pubic hair, your skin will dry very easily and become exposed to bacteria. By moisturizing, you are preventing chafing, reducing or preventing itchiness, and adding a thin protective layer.
- There are commercial after-shaving treatments available that claim to reduce the chances of getting razor bumps. Not everyone is sold on them, and some people consider them to be a waste of money because they don't work. If you do wish to use one, consider using one that is suitable for sensitive skin (the fewer ingredients, the better) and perhaps one that contains lidocaine to soothe the area. Oat ingredients might also help.
- Try showering with antibacterial body wash using a loofah, then pat area dry apply with hazel using cotton ball then apply hydrocortisone for ingrown hairs. It works great.
- Don't shave too often! When you shave, you leave tiny microscopic wounds, and because the bikini area is so sensitive it irritates much more easily, which is also one of the reasons you get razor bumps.
- It is probably best to see a doctor before considering trying to use a needle to remove embedded hairs. Sticking even a sterilized needle into your skin can be harmful when you don't know what you're doing, and any slip-up in sterilizing it can result in the spread of infection.
- Do not tweeze ingrown hairs. Doing so can cause infections and/or scarring.
- ↑R. Sonia Batra, MD, MSc, MPH. Board Certified Dermatologist. Expert Interview. 14 May 2021.
- ↑R. Sonia Batra, MD, MSc, MPH. Board Certified Dermatologist. Expert Interview. 14 May 2021.
About This Article
If you need to get rid of razor bumps in your bikini area, avoid shaving the area for a few days, to give the bumps a chance to heal. Resist the urge to scratch the area, since breaking the bumps can lead to infection and scarring. You can ease the discomfort by treating the area with a product containing salicylic acid, witch hazel, or aloe at least once a day. If your razor bumps persist for several weeks, and you haven’t shaved again, visit your dermatologist. If you want to learn about how to prevent getting razor bumps in the first place, keep reading the article!
Reader Success Stories
- "To help prevent razor bumps I highly recommend using baby oil gel. First, clean area you want to shave. Then apply the oil/gel to area, make sure to completely cover any area that the razor will touch. Lastly, rinse off area and dab with towel to dry. "..." more