Definition of Pseudofolliculitis Barbae and Treatment

Pseudofolliculitis Barbae is a condition in which large numbers of the hairs in the beard region on a man’s face grow inward after shaving, causing irritation and inflammation.

Pseudofolliculitis barbae, sometimes called razor RASH or razor bumps, occurs most frequently in men whose facial hair is tightly curled, and is particularly common among African American men. The process of shaving pulls the hairs before cutting them, allowing the cut tips to retreat within the hair follicle.

When the facial hair is tightly curled the shaved tips of the hairs, which are pointed and sharp, turn into the sides of the follicle. As they grow they puncture the follicle rather than growing out of the follicle’s opening, creating blocked follicles. The entire beard area often becomes involved, causing considerable discomfort and difficulty shaving.

The dermatologist can usually diagnose pseudofolliculitis barbae on the basis of its appearance, though may choose to scrape several of the inflamed papules (bumps) to rule out infection. Shaving with an electric razor, which does not pull and cut the hair as much as a blade razor, may reduce symptoms for some men, though many men experience irritation and inflammation regardless of shaving method.

When that is the case, the optimal solution is to stop shaving. Topical preparations such as benzoyl peroxide lotion or tretinoin cream are also sometimes helpful, though may themselves cause SKIN irritation.


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