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Why do I get pimples when I shave?

Dear Doctor,
When I shave my beard I get nasty pimples. They really hurt and take time to heal. Why is this so and what can be done to avoid it? Lucas


Dear Lucas,


Nasty pimples after shaving cause discomfort and look bad. But it is not an uncommon problem. Shaving can cause irritation of the skin over the chin and cheeks. There can be bacterial infection of the hair follicle (that connects hair under the skin).This can manifest as small pimples that are painful. Using a razor for shaving gives rise to razor bumps. The razors remove the hair very close to the roots. The hair is cut below the skin and naturally skin grows over it giving rise to a bump. These bumps can give rise to pimples. They can be infected, causing pain.


Pimples are also caused if the skin is tagged or pulled while shaving, which occurs if the razor is applied vigorously.  The irritation and secondary infection results in painful eruptions.


Any shaving cream or foam or even after shave lotion may cause allergy to a person. This can irritate the skin, causing painful bumps.

Poor hygiene observed while shaving is yet another common cause of painful pimples. This makes the area vulnerable to infections, causing painful pimples. The razor, if not cleaned properly after a shave, can cause infection after a second use. Shared razors are also a source of infection. Used or rusted blades tend to gather germs and can cause infection to the user.

Preventive measures can be taken to avoid the pimples. Maintain good hygiene while shaving. Keep the razor clean, it can be rinsed with an antibacterial solution after use. Avoid using the same blade for many days. Never share a razor with anybody. Ensure that the hair is softened adequately with warm water before beginning to shave. Avoid pulling of the skin which occurs by vigorous use of the razor. Try changing the products you use for shaving like the shaving cream, gel or after shave lotion. After shaving, you can try using some antiseptic cream over the shaved area, thus preventing infection.


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