Whenever I shave my beards, I develop itchy swellings on my cheeks. This is very uncomfortable and would not want it to happen again. What can I do to avoid a repeat of that problem?
Cellulitis or bacterial infection over the skin and tissue after shaving is the most common cause of swelling, pain and itching around the beard area. There can also be infection of the hair follicles of the hair of beards. Shared and / or contaminated blades, razors, could be the potential source of these kind of infections.
Abrasions or ulcerations caused during shaving can become a likely site for infection. Fungal infections can also cause itching. Pain and swelling can occur due to secondary infection caused by scratching the itchy area. Itchy and painful lesions can also be due to herpes simplex, i.e a viral infection. Shaving through a cold sore can spread the viral infection to surrounding hair follicles. Those with diabetes and other immune depressed conditions have greater susceptibility to develop infection. Hot humid climate, obesity, wound or surgery over beard area, acne, chronic dermatitis, use of steroid ointment, are some other risk factors for developing infections over beard.
Ingrown beard hair can be a cause for swelling, itching and pain. Redness, swelling pain and or itching can also be due to insect bites. It can also be due to allergy. This type of allergic reaction can be due to allergy to any soap, shaving cream, after shave lotion, any chemical used for shaving or after it.
Keep the beard area clean and dry. Avoid sharing the shaving tools, avoid using strong soaps or scratching over itchy parts. These measures will help in prevention of pain, swelling and itching over beard. In case of any infection, treating it will treat the beard problem as well. Testing for diabetes can help diagnose diabetes, a good control of which will help prevent and treat well, infections of the beard. A person should also try to change the cosmetic products used for shaving. Thus if there is allergy to one of the products, stopping it will arrest the problem.
Dr Rachna Pande is a specialist in internal medicine at Ruhengeri Hospital