Monday, November 11, 2013 Article: Managing Hair Bumps (Pseudofolliculitis Barbae)

The following is a preview of an article Dr. Miller wrote for Click here to read the full article.

Many men have trouble getting a close shave due to the formation of ingrown hairs. Often called razor bumps or hair bumps, the medical term for these bumps is "pseudofolliculitis barbae" or PFB. PFB is much more common in darker skinned races, but anyone can get them. Mild cases can interfere with social and occupational functioning and severe PFB can lead to scarring and disfigurement.

What Causes PFB?

PFB occurs when the edge of the cut hair is so angled or acute, that it forms a sharp point instead of a flat stub. This occurs more frequently in darker skinned races because the hair is naturally curly or kinky and comes out of the skin at an acute angle. This makes it impossible to cut the hair without forming a sharp point. As the hair begins to grow, the sharp pointed tip of the hair can pierce the skin and allow the hair to grow under the skin, forming a bump. The body treats this ingrown hair like it is a foreign body or splinter and tries to destroy it with inflammation. The inflammation is what causes pus, pain and eventually scarring.

Can PFB Be Prevented?

Preventing PFB can be difficult. The only sure way to prevent PFB is to avoid shaving the hair close to the skin. For some professions, this is not acceptable as many businesses and the military do not allow their employees to grow a beard. Changing the shaving technique and the type of razor that is used can sometimes work. Shaving the hair without stretching the skin does not cut the hair as close, which makes it more difficult for the cut hair to pierce the skin. By using a single blade razor versus using a multi-blade razor, the hair is also not cut as close to the skin and accomplishes the same thing. Shaving the hair "with the grain" or in the same direction that the hair is growing can also help prevent the cut hair from piercing the skin. In some cases of PFB, the act of shaving the skin causes enough irritation that the skin becomes swollen around the hair. This allows the hair to penetrate the skin and causes PFB. In these cases, a soothing shaving balm or mild topical steroid lotion applied immediately after shaving will help prevent PFB. For some patients with PFB, laser hair reduction will decrease the magnitude of the problem and may be an option.

To find out what can be done to treat PFB and scarring caused by PFB, click here to read the rest of the article or call Greenville Dermatology today at (864)242-5872.

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