Sunday, April 12

Red bumps, pain and irritation when shaving - Why?

Braun electic shaver and bic lady razor in gold pot with teal flowers behind. Causes of shaving irritation, itching and red bumps.
Why are my legs so itchy after shaving? What causes the red bumps and irritation? There are millions of us out there who shave and a few hours later are attacking our legs because they itch so much! Before you know it you've got great welts on your legs, red bumps, you may be bleeding and even bruised. All we want is smooth, shiny legs so we can feel all goddess-like as the adverts promise us.

Check out this DIY soothing post-shave spritz to soothe it and read the Ultimate Shaving routine for irritated legs - no more red bumps. Today, let's look at the causes.

A few years ago I found this huge thread of comments from women and their partners all trying to solve this problem. I checked in on it again and it's STILL going! It has 6 years worth of comments dating all the way back to 2009 - nobody seems to have a definitive fix! There are so many ideas floating around about why this happens but 'they' can't seem to agree on just one. So here is a run-down of some of the explanations that make sense.

Green signpost with signs for causes of shaving irritation, time of the month, dryness, dustmites, razor burn, folliculitis.

1. Folliculitis - infection of the hair follicle that turns into a red bump, sometimes white in the middle like a zit. Caused by bacteria, it's itchy but usually goes away on its own in a few days. One girl said that washing her legs with an acne facewash helped her, interesting!

2. How you shave - shaving against the grain can disrupt the direction of the hair's path so when they start growing back they miss the follicle opening and poke the wrong part of the skin. Eventually they'll pop out where they're supposed to or become ingrown hairs. In shaving this is rarely severe - you'll probably see the hair growing just under the surface of a very thin layer of skin, you'll feel it as a little bump and be able to scrape it out again with your nail.

3. A thin layer of skin forms - Some hours after your shave a very thin layer of skin forms over your legs and when the hairs start growing back through this skin it itches! For the ladies who get the itch 12-24 hours later this seems a logical explanation.

4. Dustmites - Quite a few people on this thread said they found great relief when encasing their bedding in anti-allergy casing, once they'd done this the irritation went away indicating it was the dustmites. If you're itching starts when you're in bed this might be something to look into.

woman's legs, lower leg and black shoes.
5. Using the wrong products - you may be allergic to your shaving gel/cream causing contact dermatitis. I'm probably preaching to the choir here, but try a few different ones and read the ingredients list. You may be able to find which ingredient specifically irritates your legs.

6. Dryness/dehydration - Shaving removes the top layer of skin and moisture - if you have particularly sensitive legs you'll need more body lotion and more regular application, than others.

7. Too tight clothes/chafing - Just after you've shaved, your legs are extra sensitive, wearing tight leggings which  rub against your sensitive legs will cause irritation; give them some air.

8. Perfume - Your body lotions and other products may be fragranced - even if it's essential oils it is still fragrance which can irritate skin, especially freshly-shaved skin.

9. Razor burn - shaving too fast and without enough lubrication. slow down and eliminate the friction.

10. Hygiene - it's suggested that poor hygiene lets bacteria and dead skin cells build up, making it tough for the hair to grow in and causing infections. On the other hand, too much bathing and exfoliating can dry your skin out and make it extra sensitive even before shaving.

11. Too hot baths - a lot of people experience irritation with hot water, apparently hot water strips the oils from our skin, oils which our skin needs to protect itself.

12. Time of the month - Our fluctuating hormones seem to be the cause of all kinds of issues! Let's throw it in here for good measure :-)

There is not one definitive answer to the causes of shaving irritation; yours may be due to 1 or 5 of these things. But if we have a good idea of the causes we can keep an eye on when the irritation happens and try to figure out what we can do to cut it down.

For instant relief, whenever and wherever, try the DIY post-shave spritz and my next beauty post will be on establishing a shaving routine that cuts down the irritation as much as possible.

Until then, I hope this helped, and please leave any other causes you know of down in the comments - the more we know the better chance of stopping it!
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Ciao for now

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