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A Case of The Bumps

Isaac was a 23 year old Lieutenant colonel, he loved his job and the respect that came with it. The fact that he was an expert marksman and very good at fixing things was also a desirable plus. A young soldier with his skill-set was definitely going to get to the top. He had also been called aside severally by his superiors and told that the sky was his starting point. But, something always kept him up at night. As a soldier, he had to be clean shaven but that came with a price.  He always dreaded that trip to the barbershop at the mammy market.  The pain that usually came with the shaving and then as if sleeping lions had been woken, a fresh crop of bumps would appear the next day. This affected his looks and he had lost more than one girlfriend to this“His curse”, as he liked to refer to it.

What Isaac has is a case of Pseudofolliculitis Barbae (please don’t choke on it) commonly known as Razor bumps. They are caused by hairs that remain inside the follicule after shaving. These hairs grow inward if the person has curly hair and begin to irritate and cause inflammation. This inflammation gives rise to the bumps. Pseufollicultis barbae or PFB is commoner in those who shave the wrong way or use improper equipment. It is also common in black men as they tend to have coarse hair. It commonly affects the face, but it can also be found on other commonly shaved parts of the body such as the genital area. PFB is an extremely common condition and it is of great cause of concern to many young men and women.  What exactly can be done to prevent PFB? What treatments are reliable for those who already have PFB?

The time old adage that “Prevention is better than cure” holds true. But, astonishingly the best way to prevent PFB is to let the beard grow. Yes, becoming a member of team Beard gang could save you a lot of headache. But, what if you’re like Isaac whose job requires him to be clean shaven.  Options include, shaving to an optimal length of 0.5 to 1.0mm to prevent in-growing of the hair. Also, the use of an electric razor with a single blade can help in controlling PFB. It is advisable to shave in the direction of hair growth every single day, rather than daily. Exfoliation with tools such as brushes also help to prevent it. If you must use a blade for shaving, softening the beard with a hot and soaked washcloth and then using shaving powder before shaving is advised. The use of alcohol based after-shave products are however not advised as they tend to irritate and worsen the situation.

Treatment for Pseudofolliculitis barbae should involve a dermatologist. It is very important that one having this condition consult a dermatologist to prescribe preventive and therapeutic measures and treat possible complications. Permanent removal of the hair follicule is the definitive treatment for PFB. Methods used for permanent removal include Electrolysis which is not commonly used due to its expense and the pain it causes, also the use of Laser techniques is being favoured. Existing bumps can be treated by use of ingrown hair using tweezers, the use of fingernails should be avoided as these are likely to cause infections. Your Dermatologist is also likely to prescribe medication to quicken the healing of the skin, to reduce lesions, even out scarring and antibiotics to treat infections.

It is also advisable not to patronise quacks peddling around cures as these have been found to cause scarring and worsen the condition. Bumps are a “pain in the ass” and have the potential to affect our ability to “slay”, but appropriate prevention and treatment can make our life free of bumps.

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