How Long Do Razor Cuts Take To Heal
If you’ve ever gotten a nasty, red cut on your face from shaving, then you’re no stranger to razor burn. It’s that burning sensation that comes with a close shave — the closer the better. And while it may not be as painful as getting stabbed by a knife or shot in the chest with a bullet, it isn’t exactly pleasant either.
The most common type of razor burn is called folliculitis, which affects the hair pores on the face. The skin becomes irritated and inflamed when bacteria multiply under the surface of the skin, causing an infection. Bacteria are introduced into the skin through cuts made during shaving, exfoliating treatments like chemical peels and dermabrasion procedures, nicks from fingernails or razors, and injuries caused by acne treatment products such as benzoyl peroxide [sources: Mayo Clinic, WebMD].
Razor burns generally occur at areas where you have shaved recently because there aren’t enough hairs for bacteria to hide behind. This includes the chin area, neck, shoulders, upper arms, armpits and bikini line. You might also get razor burn if you use a dull blade, or one that has been used previously by someone else who had razor burn. If you don’t properly care for your razor after each use, you could wind up introducing more bacteria into the wound than necessary.
Although it might seem like your razor burn will never heal, rest assured that it will eventually disappear. Razor burn typically clears up within two or three days, but self-care measures and some simple home remedies can help symptoms clear even sooner. Read on to learn what you should do once you notice the first sign of razor burn.
Symptoms of Razor Burn
There are several telltale signs that you might have razor burn. These include the following:
Redness around the affected area
You’ll know if you have razor burn if any of these symptoms appear. But if they last longer than five days, see your doctor immediately. He or she may prescribe antibiotic ointment or medication that fights infections, depending on how severe the case is.
Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, let’s talk about some self-care tips for treating razor burn.
Treating Razor Burn With Ointments
When applying over-the-counter (OTC) medications to treat razor burn, keep some things in mind. First, make sure that you follow directions precisely, especially those pertaining to usage timeframes. Second, try not to touch the infected area with hands other than yours until you’ve washed them thoroughly with warm water. Third, avoid using hot water when washing your face, since this can further irritate your skin. Lastly, always cleanse your face thoroughly before putting on moisturizer to prevent additional irritation.
Some popular OTC medications for treating razor burn include hydrocortisone cream, calamine lotion, aloe vera gel, tea tree oil and zinc oxide. However, you may want to consult your dermatologist or physician if you experience extreme pain, swelling or reddening of the rash. Your doctor might prescribe stronger antibiotics or oral antihistamines to combat the spread of infection.
While many people turn to over-the-counter medicines to treat their razor burn, some find relief from natural ingredients found in beauty products or foods. For example, yogurt contains Lactobacillus acidophilus, which helps fight bacterial infections, including ones caused by razor burn. Aloe vera juice contains compounds that soothe inflammation, and vitamin E works like medicine against scarring. Honey combats bacterial growth, and lemon balm leaf extract aids in healing the skin. Finally, cucumbers contain enzymes that break down proteins, slowing down inflammation.
Self-Care Tips for Treating Razor Burn
Once you start seeing signs of razor burn, take steps to reduce its severity and speed up recovery time. Here are some basic self-care tips for combating the effects of razor burn:
Keep yourself well-hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids, particularly cool drinks. Dehydration is associated with fatigue, dry mouth and headaches, all of which are uncomfortable side effects of razor burn.
Wash off the excess product. When you shower, wash off the excess soap or cleanser residue left on your body to minimize the chance of infection. Also, make sure to rinse your razor thoroughly after every pass. Use only fresh blades, and replace old ones often.
Use mild detergent. Avoid harsh soaps and antibacterial agents when cleaning your skin. Instead, opt for gentle cleaners that are alcohol-, paraben- and sulfite-free. Choose unscented cleansers; strong scents can aggravate existing conditions.
Avoid scratching. While scratching causes minor pleasure, it can lead to serious complications. Scratch gently and only when needed.
Avoid excessive touching. Keep your fingers to yourself. Touching your face with dirty fingers can cause more harm than good.
Apply soothing lotions. After cleansing, apply a soothing emollient lotion to relieve discomfort and promote faster healing.
Don’t smoke. Smoking weakens your immune system and limits oxygen intake. In addition, nicotine constricts blood vessels, which makes breathing difficult and increases the risk of infection.
Your razor burn should begin clearing up in less than 72 hours if you take proper care of it. Now that you’re armed with information to treat razor burn, read on to discover what happens next.
One of the best ways to treat razor burn is to stop using the offending razor altogether. Although you can purchase new safety razors without making major changes, you can save money and buy a whole set of new ones at a discounted price. Simply visit your local drugstore and ask an employee whether your store carries replacement sets. They can provide you with a price quote.
Next Steps with Razor Burn
After taking steps to ease the discomfort and itching associated with razor burn, you’ll probably want to know what comes next in your recovery process. Fortunately, you won’t have to sit around for long waiting for results. Within 72 hours of developing symptoms, your razor burn should start improving. By day four, you shouldn’t feel much of a sting or scratchiness. By the end of the week, the rash should completely resolve itself.
However, sometimes your razor burn doesn’t clear up fast enough. Don’t fret — there are certain things you can do to expedite the healing process.
First, keep your skin clean. Rinse your face daily with lukewarm water to remove any traces of dirt, bacteria and debris. Make sure to wash your towel regularly throughout the day to avoid spreading the infection. You should also wear loose clothing rather than tight pants, blouses or shirts. Loose clothes allow air to circulate beneath them, keeping your skin cleaner and healthier.
Second, seek medical attention if your razor burn continues to worsen or fails to improve after seven days. Doctors may prescribe topical creams, ointments, gels or solutions to aid in the healing process.
Third, consider laser therapy. Laser light therapy uses intense beams of energy to kill bacteria and stimulate collagen production. Depending on the severity of your injury, your doctor may recommend laser therapy. The procedure takes about 10 minutes and involves placing a special lens on your eye. Your doctor adjusts the intensity of the light beam according to your needs until your symptoms subside. During treatment, you’ll experience slight discomfort and a little tearing. Once treatment ends, your eye will likely continue to hurt for about 24 hours.
Finally, remember that prevention is key. Wear disposable razors whenever possible. Store your unused blades in a container filled with sand or sawdust instead of letting them hang around in the bathroom sink. Wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap after shaving. Use only non-toxic household cleaners and laundry detergents. Try not to pick or squeeze pimples. Finally, use sunscreen lotion and lip balm liberally to protect your skin from sun damage and bacterial infection.
So now you know how to handle razor burn and what to expect in terms of recovery. Next, learn why you need to be vigilant about preventing razor burn in the future.
To determine how quickly your razor burn will clear up, check your skin daily to note any improvement. If your symptoms haven’t improved by day six, call your doctor to discuss options for speeding up the healing process.
Preventing Razor Burn
Risking razor burn isn’t just something you do occasionally — it can happen repeatedly if you don’t take precautions. Read on to learn how to keep razor burn from happening again.
Even though you might think that shaving your legs will give you smoother skin, it actually causes more problems than it solves. Shaving removes the protective outer layer of skin, leaving your legs vulnerable to ingrown hairs and razor burn. Not to mention the fact that regular shaving strips the skin of essential oils and moisture, leading to drying and cracking. A better alternative is to wax your leg or put on depuffing socks to lift the skin temporarily. Then, simply trim the hair with scissors or tweezers to smooth it back into place.
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