Could bikini line irritation be infected follicles?

It takes a certain amount of courage to put on a bathing suit no matter what your body type, but even if you have a…
Could bikini line irritation be infected follicles?

How to treat bikini line irritation. (Shutterstock)

It takes a certain amount of courage to put on a bathing suit no matter what your body type, but even if you have a super model’s physique, you might be tempted to hide under baggy clothes due to bikini line irritation.

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For some women the little red bumps associated with shaving the bikini area are minimal and go away within a few days–this is normal and is typically associated with razor irritation. For other women, however, the red bumps seem to be everywhere, and they can linger for weeks, getting even more complicated by ingrown hairs.

If you are one of the women who suffer embarrassment from a bumpy, red, bikini line, you need to ask yourself if maybe it’s more than just irritation–maybe it’s an infection.

Bikini line irritation: Infected follicles

So why do hair follicles on the bikini line become infected? It’s rather simple. The bikini area is more sensitive compared to say, the arms or legs. Like the face, the skin requires delicate handling and shaving for a bikini isn’t exactly the gentlest process.

“When you shave, each hair follicle becomes raised—and when the area isn’t smooth you may be more likely to nick yourself with the razor,” Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz, M.D., an ob-gyn in Los Angeles, told Women’s Health Magazine. “Not only can this hurt when it happens, but it also sets you up for infection later on. When you cut yourself, the external bacteria has an open invitation to enter your bloodstream. Anything that’s living on the skin should say on the skin and not go inside the tissue—with open cuts you can get a bigger infection than you would otherwise.”

This means that regular shaving irritation can open the door for bacteria to enter the hair follicles, eventually causing an infection called folliculitis.

According to the Mayo Clinic, folliculitis appears as small, white-headed pimples around one or more hair follicles. Most cases are itchy but superficial and clear up on their own. Chronic irritation an infection, however, may require medical treatment. While shaving alone can cause folliculitis, common habits can exacerbate the condition, including:

  • Friction from tight clothing.
  • Excessive perspiration.
  • Inflammatory skin conditions, including dermatitis and acne.
  • Injuries to your skin, such as abrasions or surgical wounds.
  • Coverings on your skin, such as plastic dressings or adhesive tape.

How can you treat folliculitis in the bikini area?

Though most cases of folliculitis will clear up on their own, some cases–especially if you have a chronic issue–may require a topical antibiotic or fungicidal ointment. Some home remedies may be helpful, including the application of soothing oatmeal or the use of antimicrobial essential oils such as tea tree or lavender.

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The best bet when it comes to bikini line irritation, though, is prevention rather than treatment. To give yourself the best chance of avoiding bikini line irritation try the following steps:

  • Wait until the end of your shower to shave your bikini line. The hot water helps soften hair and open up follicles.
  • Always use a new razor.
  • Shave in the direction of the hair growth first. Then follow up with a shave against the grain. The newer your razor, the fewer times you will have to go over the same area and the less irritation that will be caused.
  • Exfoliate the area to prevent skin from sealing over and causing ingrown hairs.
  • Use a topical antibiotic cream or comparable product once out of the shower on the area.
  • Keep the bikini line moisturized and continue to exfoliate regularly. You can find a post-shave ointment in the drug store; look for one with witch hazel.
  • If you have an issue with sweat, swipe the area with a deodorant bar after showering.