Shaving-related irritation is one of the most popular cosmetic complaints among men. While it can affect any part of the face, the neck area is particularly sensitive to shaving nicks and redness.
If you are looking to keep your shave smooth and irritation-free, stick around as we share a few useful tips below.
Shaving and your skin
Shaving close to the skin without causing trauma is challenging. Also, shaving can compromise your skin barrier. Specifically, our skin has a layer of lipids that works to retain moisture and regulate the entry of any chemicals. When we shave, this lipid layer is compromised, especially if alcohol-containing aftershaves are used. When the lipid layer is damaged, the skin becomes extremely vulnerable to external stimuli. Moisture is easily lost to the surroundings and foreign chemicals can enter the skin easily. The skin can be more irritable at this stage.
Shaving may also be a physical stimulus for the receptors in our skin. While the sensory receptors in the skin are meant to perceive pain, they also react to more innocent environmental stimulus like a razor. Upon shaving, the skin releases mediators that cause a flare response, which leads to redness or a burning sensation.
When shaved, the hair is left with a sharp tip. Ingrown hairs happen when the tip grows out of the follicle, curves downwards and re-enters the skin. Alternatively, it can grow inwards and penetrate the deeper skin layers.
Your body recognizes the hair’s reentry as a foreign object and triggers an inflammatory reaction that causes redness and itchiness. The follicles can resemble a pimple filled with pus.
To avoid this, do not stretch the skin while you shave as it causes newly cut hair to retract underneath the skin.
Razor burns occur when there is skin inflammation. Symptoms include burning, itching, stinging and redness. In mild cases, the discomfort can last for a few hours and resemble a rash or scratch. If the condition worsens, you may notice bumps that resemble pimples.
Tips for a smooth shave
- Dry beard hair is stiffer more resistant to applied forces, which means stiffer hair requires greater force when shaving. To soften the beard hairs, first, wash your face with warm water and a gentle antibacterial cleanser like Miel Honey™ Cleanser. The cleanser is formulated with natural honey and Arnica Montana that reduces the risk of infection. The motion of washing your face also releases embedded hairs.
- Shave with the grain, i.e. in the direction of hair growth, to reduce razor burn.
- Use a sharp and clean razor blade with every shave. Dull blades require more pressure and unclean blades can introduce bacteria and trigger inflammation.
- If ingrown hairs are a significant issue, switch to electrical razors that reduce the closeness of the shave. Maintain beard hair at length of 0.5 to 1 mm to prevent hair from penetrating the skin.
- Use a moisturizer after your shave to decrease irritation and rehydrate the skin. An emulsion-based, lightweight moisturizer like Radiance Fluide™ Hydrating Emulsion is recommended.
If you experience persistent shaving-related irritation, it is best to visit an accredited dermatologist. A thorough consultation can identify any underlying condition and provide advice on suitable treatment options.
© 2019 TWL Specialist Skin and Laser Centre. All rights reserved.
Meet with Dr Teo Wan Lin, an accredited dermatologist at TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre, for a thorough consultation to determine the most suitable treatment for your skin.
To book an appointment with Dr Teo, call us at +65 6355 0522, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, you may fill up our contact form here.
Eczema is one of the most common skin disorders in infants and children. Apart from dealing with the medical aspect of the disease, affected patients may experience significant psychosocial effects.
Also termed as atopic dermatitis, it is very common in children but may occur at any age.
How does atopic dermatitis arise?
Atopic dermatitis is caused by a complex interaction of genetic and environmental factors including:
- Skin barrier dysfunction
- Genetic predisposition
- Immune dysfunction
The role of genetics in eczema
Most patients with eczema have a lower amount of filaggrin in the epidermal skin layer., due to mutations in the filaggrin gene. Filaggrin is a structural protein that plays a vital role in normal barrier structure and function. A lack of filaggrin contributes to the development of eczema in several ways.
Filaggrin breaks down into amino acids and protein derivative to form natural moisturizing factors (NMFs) in the outer skin layers. NMFs provide moisture retention, maintain the acidic pH and buffering capacity of the skin barrier and prevent an overgrowth of bacteria.
Inadequate filaggrin would mean a reduced ability to maintain hydration, which can cause xerosis (dry skin), pruritus (itching) and subsequently, eczema. A dysfunction in skin barrier may also allow entry of allergens, leading to an inflammatory response thus causing eczema.
Having an impaired barrier function also causes colonisation of a bacterium called Staphylococcus aureus. Scratching disrupts the skin barrier, thus also leads to the bacteria adhering to the outer skin layers.
The extent of bacterial colonization is associated with the severity of eczema.
How immune dysfunction contributes to eczema
Apart from genetic factors, defects in immune pathways are usually observed in patients with eczema. They tend to have high levels Th-2 cells, which contribute to a defective skin barrier. Th-2 cells play an important role in the immune system. A poor skin barrier may mean water is lost from the skin and also allows the penetration of irritants (soap, dirt, detergent) and allergens (pollens, microbes, dust-mites).
There is also an overproduction of cytokines in the body. Cytokines are cell signalling molecules that aid in cell to cell communication. It regulates the movement of cells towards sites of inflammation and infection.
The excessive release of cytokines initiates new responses that eventually leads to inflammation, causing the red, itchy and painful symptoms common in eczema.
Patients also have high levels of an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE), which puts them at disposition for hypersensitivity to environmental allergens. Hypersensitivity is when the immune system produces undesirable or detrimental reactions, such as attacking the body’s own cells or tissues instead of protecting them. With elevated IgE levels, it would mean exposure to a certain allergen can causes the immune system to attack the body’s own tissues and therefore skin inflammation that may be observed with eczema patients.
How to treat eczema?
When it comes to treatment, there are 3 main components that target a specific manifestation of the disease. As a chronic, relapsing condition that may flare up at variable intervals, a comprehensive home treatment plan is important for successful management.
Repair & Maintain Healthy Skin Barrier:
Lubrication of the skin is required to maintain skin hydration, commonly known as moisturisation. This helps to alleviate the discomfort that xerosis (dry skin) may bring about.
Patients with eczema should use moisturizers that are fragrance-free and least amount of preservatives, as these are potential irritants.
Topical corticosteroids are the most effective and common treatment. Corticosteroids are drugs that mimic cortisol, a hormone found in the body. They work by diminishing inflammation, itching and bacteria colonisation.
This medication can be classified according to its potency, ranging from class VII (low potency) to class I (super potent). Great care must be taken to balance the potency of drug needed for results so as to minimise potential side effects.
Side effects include:
- Atrophy (decrease in size or wasting away of a body part/tissue)
- Striae (stretch marks)
- Telangiectasisa (small dilated blood vessels)
- Secondary infections
- Adrenal suppression (body produces lower levels of cortisol)
For moderate to severe eczema conditions, wet wrap therapy can be used with topical steroids and dermatologist-approved moisturisers. After the medication is applied to the affected area, it is wrapped with a few layers of wet gauze, followed by dry gauze. Such therapy reduces itching and inflammation by preventing scratching and improves penetration of corticosteroids.
Topical inhibitors of calcineurin – protein phosphatase associated with activation of the immune system, are newer forms of treatment, which are considered on areas unsuitable for topical steroids (e.g. eyelids) or if other treatment options do not yield results. For example, Pimecrolimus cream and Tacrolimus ointment are calcineurin inhibitors that have demonstrated good efficacy for eczema treatments and do not cause side effects that corticosteroids bring, but have other considerations of use that should be managed with an accredited dermatologist.
Antihistamines are commonly used to treat itching. Even without a significant rash, itching can be present. Oral antihistamines help to reduce the sensation of itching, ideally to decrease scratching and trauma to the skin.
Antibiotic or antifungal medicines are used to treat the infected rash, to reduce the amount of bacterium Staphylococcus aureus. Topical mupirocin is often prescribed to prevent further infection.
Taking care of the skin
Avoid dry skin. Asian skin is more susceptible to being dry. Dry skin can cause itching and scratching. Tips to avoid dry skin:
- Moisturize, especially after a bath as evaporation can cause excessive drying. A ceramide-based moisturizer that is suitable for sensitive skin and face could be Radiance Fluide™ Hydrating Emulsion which is also infused with skin rejuvenation properties. For intensive replenishment of ceramides (which are naturally found in healthy skin barrier but deficient in diseased skin), a dermatologist-tested moisturiser such as the Multi-CERAM may also be considered.
- Bathe with lukewarm water for 10-15 minutes.
- Use neutral or weakly acidic pH soap. Consider a mild cleanser that soothes the skin like Le Lait™ Milk Cleanser.
- Avoid high ambient temperatures.
Avoid irritants that can cause or aggravate a rash, such as perfumes, scratchy clothing or bedding and sweating.
© 2018 TWL Specialist Skin and Laser Centre. All rights reserved.
Meet with Dr. Teo Wan Lin, an accredited dermatologist at TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre, for a thorough consultation to determine the most suitable treatment for your skin.
To book an appointment with Dr. Teo, call us at +65 6355 0522, or email email@example.com. Alternatively, you may fill up our contact form here.