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Pseudofolliculitis barbae (PFB). It's the long way to say "razor bumps" and the short way to say "painful, chronic inflammatory condition caused by shaving or plucking coarse hairs on the face or body."

Whatever the name, we're pretty sure you'd most like to call it "gone".

What causes pseudofolliculitis barbae?

This chronic inflammatory condition is caused by shaving or plucking coarse hairs on the face or body. Shaving stretches the hair beyond the follicle and then creates a sharp edge on the hair. The hair snaps back beneath the surface of the skin and gets trapped.

Is pseudofolliculitis barbae the same as ingrown hairs?

Not exactly. It can present the same way creating painful, tender bumps on the skin. But, as the name implies, it goes a step further. In PFB, the trapped hair grows downward and escapes the follicle, emerging through the dermis in what's known as extra-follicular penetration. This "follicle simulation" is where we get the term "pseudofolliculitis," and it's what distinguishes PFB from ingrown hair.

When extra-follicular penetration occurs, the skin treats the hair as a foreign body and mounts an inflammatory response, leading to pustules, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, and sometimes keloid scars.

PFB is more common in African American skin because the hair follicle is curved. It can affect both men and women, but because it's the result of shaving or hair removal, it's mostly seen in men on the face and neck. However, bikini lines and underarms are also fair game.

What to do about pseudofolliculitis barbae

First, stop shaving or plucking. Wait until razor bumps have resolved before going back to shaving or engaging in further hair removal at the site.

Skincare should focus on gentle exfoliation to remove impactions and free trapped hairs, killing bacteria, and soothing irritation.

 Melanin-inhibitors and brightening ingredients can be used to manage hyperpigmentation.

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