5 Tips and Tricks for Safe Shaving with Psoriasis
To shave or not to shave? For many people with psoriasis, that’s the question. And to some degree, the answer is both—when your skin is flaring, there are some areas you'll want to avoid shaving, and others where it may be okay, as long as you're taking certain precautions.
When you have psoriasis, your skin can be sensitive, says Sabrina Barata, M.D., a board-certified primary care physician at Mercy Personal Physicians in Lutherville, Maryland. And then shaving can cause significant irritation.
For instance, if you nick your skin while shaving, you could make your psoriasis worse, says Paul S. Yamauchi, M.D., Ph.D., a board-certified dermatologist at the Dermatology Institute & Skin Care Center in Santa Monica, California. “There is a skin phenomenon called koebnerization whereby injury to the skin can trigger psoriasis,” Yamauchi says, noting that injuries can include cuts, scrapes, abrasions, and burns. “The inflammation that results from injuries aggravates the skin and can cause an immune reaction that triggers psoriasis.”
The most important thing to remember, Barata says, is that you should avoid hair removal by any method in areas with active flares. But for other areas of clearer skin, certain tips and tricks can make shaving with psoriasis a success.
How to Shave with Psoriasis: 5 Tips
To lower the chances of irritation or a flare-up when shaving unwanted hair, give these suggestions a try.
1. Stay Sharp
Avoiding irritation while shaving with psoriasis begins with selecting the proper razor. The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD) recommends that anyone who shaves use a sharp razor. Sharper blades may be less likely to nick your skin than dull ones. Then, change your razor blades after five or six uses to ensure that the blades remain sharp for each use.
You may want to try different razors to see which you and your skin like best. Barata recommends using a multiblade razor, which may decrease the risk of irritation.
2. Shower First
It may help to shave after taking a shower, since showering allows the skin to absorb moisture, which is paramount, Barata says. Moisture softens your stubble and opens hair follicles, making smooth shaving easier.
Shaving after showering also means you’ll have washed away excess oil and dead skin that could cause your razor blade to clog, according to the AAD.
3. Lather Up and Moisturize
A word of caution: “Never dry shave,” Barata says. “It is too irritating for people with psoriasis.” Instead, apply fragrance-free shaving cream or soap to your skin before shaving.
Also, it’s important to use a moisturizing product as an aftershave, says board-certified dermatologist Frank Morocco Jr., D.O., of OhioHealth Physician Group in Marion.
Although it’s not recommended to shave in areas of active psoriasis, sometimes you may feel like you don’t have another option. If this is the case, it’s a good idea to also apply prescribed topical treatments after shaving to prevent worsened psoriasis in these areas.
4. Go with the Grain
Once you’re prepped and ready, shave in the direction your hair grows. “Going against the grain for a closer shave is not recommended,” Barata says. Also, shave lightly so as not to nick your skin.
As you shave, rinse your blade razor between swipes, and store your razor in a dry place when you’re not using it, says the AAD. Moisture can encourage bacteria to grow, which can irritate anyone’s skin.
5. Treat Nicks and Cuts Right Away
It’s possible that you’ll nick your skin even while being careful. If that happens, apply an antibiotic ointment such as polysporin or an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream to help decrease the likelihood your skin reacts with a new psoriasis flare, Yamauchi says. “If you are on an oral agent or biologic agent to treat your psoriasis, koebnerization can automatically be prevented,” he notes.
However, taking a biologic does not mean that you may never get a flare. If there is a small area of psoriasis after shaving, use your prescribed topical treatments in the area or speak to your dermatologist to get a prescription.
What About Other Hair Removal Methods?
Waxing, lasers, and depilatories are all alternatives to shaving that you may consider, but take caution with them. Although waxing can remove hair for longer than shaving, and depilatories are easy and convenient, Morocco does not recommend either method for people with psoriasis. Waxing and depilatories can irritate your skin, Morocco says.
On the other hand, lasers may be an effective option. “Laser hair removal is safe to perform on people with psoriasis,” Yamauchi says. He points to a 2016 study he co-authored, which found that people with psoriasis who underwent laser therapy did not later experience a reactive flare. Nevertheless, before you have your hair removed with a laser, talk to your doctor, Barata says. Your doctor can share information to help you make the process safe and effective.
It’s also perfectly fine to let your hair grow out, whether that’s what’s best for your skin or what you prefer.
How do you manage shaving or other types of hair removal with psoriasis? Share your experience with other members in the comments below.
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