woman in a bikini

Q. Do you have any remedies for red bumps after a bikini wax?

A. Dermatologists have a name for razor bumps, whether they occur on a man’s neck or around a woman’s bikini line: pseudofolliculitis barbae. In this condition, hairs that have been removed either by waxing or shaving don’t grow back through the surface of the skin. Instead, they become ingrown and cause bumps and inflammation.

A dermatologist we consulted suggested that waxing may be more likely than shaving to cause bikini bumps. That’s because after the hair is pulled out it is more likely to become ingrown.

He recommended applying OTC hydrocortisone cream to the area after hair removal to reduce irritation. He pointed out that a permanent solution for people with dark hair is laser hair removal.

Others have suggested that aloe vera gel applied to the region may reduce irritation and inflammation and offer another option in addition to or instead of the hydrocortisone cream.

Another favorite home remedy, amber Listerine, has been pressed into service for folliculitis. One reader noted, “I decided that if Listerine killed germs in a person’s mouth, it might kill the germs on my skin. I tried it and the condition cleared up so dramatically that I use only Listerine when the folliculitis recurs.” The alcohol and antimicrobial oils in the mouthwash may reduce the likelihood of infection taking hold in the follicles and contributing to inflammation.

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  1. JL

    After shaving in sensitive areas and underarms, gently rub some Witch Hazel on the area with a cotton ball to discourage the growth of of ingrown hairs.

    • Allisson L.

      My skin is extremely sensitive and so I’ve always been super picky with any products that I use to relieve my skin after waxing. My sister-in-law recommended me SkinAgain’s Rescue cream — it’s amazing!!! It soothes my skin immediately after I’m done waxing and prevents any irritation that would usually have taken place. My favorite part about it is that its 100% natural!

  2. LG

    Shaving does NOT encourage growth. That is just not logical.

  3. SGH

    I’m going to try the Listerine remedy for folliculitis. I got it after using a depilatory cream on my arms, as the hair was growing back in. Tried an expensive antibiotic prescribed by a dermatologist that didn’t work. I have some in the medicine cabinet.

  4. k

    I have swedish hair and terrible ingrown hairs from it being too thin. Not the exact same boat but here is My Solution ~
    I really love to wax and pluck in combo. Just exfoliate after you wax, ingrown hairs can only grow in if you don’t remove the layer of skin the hair is trying to break. Shaving just encourages growth, waxing and plucking diminishes hair growth and if you’re lucky pulls out a follicle or two. It’s so much cheaper and safer than laser derm. ouch. Use good resinous wax, not that hard stuff and always use a slick oil a few minutes before to protect the skin (usually provided). Bliss poetic wax mixed with a drop of the pre-oil works well for me, once you get the hang of how much wax to lay down and when/how to pull. I also always use strips not normally used with the kit, just to make things easier.
    Wash well before waxing. I always follow up a wax with lavender oil, it is soothing and anti-allthat. If you have severe irritation keep some aloe in the freezer, real aloe not in a jar, scrape the pulp out and just smear it everywhere, it is awesome. Rinse off when you feel less red.
    I never go to scary wax places that re-use. I’ve had the best results at home, but it is fun to hit a nice spa. After the inflammation has subsided, follow up daily with lavender and tea tree oil (it is a bit too abrasive right after), I like to use a coconut base, it’s naturally anti-fungal.
    The Exfo DayAfter ~ Castor oil is a great emollient and works lovely on perking up lady parts, and for removing all that yuck that causes bumps (bacteria). Exfoliation is not always about gritty pastes. Just be sure you have washed properly before using it (i love dr bronners with tea tree oil, which can be picked up pretty cheap at co-ops or on amazon, it’s just better soap period). If you don’t wash prior to using Castor oil, you will break out. If you have a lot of skin that is not debrided, Castor oil will make your skin peel. This clears up once your skin has been successfully exfoliated on a regular basis, just don’t go overboard, you could cause more irritation than not.
    I use “Now” Castor mixed with Lavender oil and a fine wash cloth, soaked in warmer/hot water. Castor really loves heat, but don’t burn yourself. Go gentle and be sure to do this the first day after your wax. Be sure to exfoliate regularly and moisturize sparingly following.
    My advice ~ definitely the next day, skip a day ~ exfo again, and follow up once a week once the hair is in. You may need encourage a few hairs by hand, don’t use your finger nails, a clean pair of tweezers may cause a bit of irritation but getting the hair out is better than letting it fester. Always tea tree after.
    Bases for your faces ~ if you can’t do coconut ~ i like nutiva, palm is also great ~ i love spectrum. I’ve had success with nature’s bounty tea tree, but have found some use with aura cacia and a few others. A Homemade coconut, palm, cocobutter blend is my favourite moisturizer in all the world for legs and arms (i use to have excema, no more). Same deal mix with some lavender oil to calm the skin (don’t use lotions ever, ew)
    Not all tea tree is the same, 100% melaleuca only. The more it smells like medicine, the more it is like medicine. The smell will subside, scar tissue from bumps does not.

  5. Kim V

    I used to get awful red bumps, but happened to see one of our female Olympic swimmers (can’t remember who) on morning tv talking about this very subject. She said she’d learned that by shaving with the direction of hair growth she had eliminated this embarrassing problem. I tried it, and she was so right- never had a problem with this since!

  6. oualum

    I used years ago suggestion from your article to put amber Listerine in spray bottle for mom’s shingle pain. she said it worked!

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