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Infections caused by shaving: 6 nasty consequences

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  • 1. What helps with ingrown beard hairs?
  • 2. What helps when boils, abscesses and erysipelas develop?
  • 3. How do I reduce the risk of fungal diseases or beard ringworm?
  • 4. Is there really a risk of tetanus from rusty razor blades?
  • 5. What can lead to impetigo and what is it?
  • 6. Does intimate shaving increase the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases?
  • You should keep this in mind every time you shave

The nice, smooth feeling after a shave – who doesn’t love it? But very few people know that shaving, whether on the face or intimate area, can have quite unpleasant consequences. You can find out what these are and what you can do to avoid infections, pain and serious health risks here.

1. What helps with ingrown beard hairs?

Ingrown hairs are hairs that do not grow on the surface, but grow underneath the skin.

  • Causes of ingrown beard hair: Ingrown hairs occur when dead skin cells block the hair canal and the newly growing hair cannot sprout through the skin. “This can happen even more easily when shaving through the hair that has been cut off, as the shortened hair grows back with ‘sharper edges’,” says Monika Matei, hair removal expert at waxing and sugaring professional Senzera. Ingrown hairs are particularly common in the intimate area, as the frizzy pubic hair curls up and the sharp edge penetrates the skin again and continues to grow there.
  • This helps with ingrown hairs: When it comes to ingrown hairs, the basic rule is: prevention is better than aftercare. “You can prevent it, for example, by regularly exfoliating the skin. A peeling gently removes dead skin cells so that the hair can grow out of the skin more easily,” says expert Matei. If a hair has gotten lost under the surface of the skin, you should see your family doctor or dermatologist, especially if the area becomes inflamed, painful, swollen or a red edge forms around the hair.

You should generally avoid messing around and pulling out the hair with sharp objects. This can cause inflammation and leave unsightly scars. And: A good razor with sharp blades minimizes the risk of ingrown hairs.

2. What helps when boils, abscesses and erysipelas develop?

  • Causes of sore spots in the beard region: “Ingrown hairs alone are not a problem. But if bacteria get into the skin in addition to the hair, this can quickly lead to boils, inflammation with pus pimples, or even large inflammation of several hair roots and the formation of abscesses. You should now go to the doctor at the latest.” , advises Dr. med. Susanne Steinkraus. “This can also cause erysipelas. They begin with overheating, swelling and redness, and if left untreated can lead to serious systemic infections and should definitely be treated medically.” To understand: With erysipelas, the body tries to push back the bacteria through inflammation. If erysipelas is not treated in time, it can lead to, among other things, inflammation of the kidneys and inner wall of the heart, as well as inflammation of the meninges.
  • This helps against inflammation: If the skin has already become inflamed, go to the doctor as soon as possible! Be sure to avoid touching the irritated area. This only makes the inflammation worse. To prevent it from getting that far, here are some tips to prevent ingrown hairs: Exfoliate the shaved areas regularly to prevent the hairs from growing in. Aftershaves are also helpful because they prevent bacteria from penetrating the skin.

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3. How do I reduce the risk of fungal diseases or beard ringworm?

Fungi don’t just exist between the toes. You can make yourself comfortable in many places on your body. They are often discovered late and have unpleasant consequences. It is particularly unfavorable if you shave over the affected skin. The fungus can penetrate the body through small skin injuries.

What many people don’t know is that a fungal infection can even affect your face. If your cheeks or area around your mouth itches and circular, scaly patches form, you may have Beard Moth be ill, the so-called beard lichen. “This is a fungal infection that is usually treated with antimycotics,” explains dermatologist Dr. Thomas Meyer from the Professional Association of German Dermatologists (BVD). The name beard ringworm is slightly misleading because the infection can occur even without a beard. The name is explained because only men can get it.

  • Causes of fungal infections: The infection usually occurs through skin contact, whereby the fungus first has to find a way through the natural skin flora – but this goes quickly after shaving. Beard ringworm is more common in rural areas, especially after contact with an infected animal. Then all you have to do is scratch your chin. The disease can also be transmitted through infected razor blades, brushes or towels. Especially if they are shared (which you shouldn’t be doing anyway).
  • This helps with a fungal infection: If you have an infection, it is important that you do not scratch yourself despite the itching. Otherwise, in the worst case scenario, you will spread the fungus. If the infection remains untreated, bearded men will be annoyed: permanent hairless scars can then arise.

In addition to antimycotics, creams and lotions with antibacterial effects can also be used for treatment – talk to your dermatologist about this. “In the case of chronic infections, it is worth switching between dry and wet shaving. These are different stimuli on the skin that can lead to an improvement in the disease,” advises Dr. Meyer.

4. Is there really a risk of tetanus from rusty razor blades?

When you think of tetanus, the first thing that probably comes to mind is a rusty nail in your foot. Yes, even a rusty razor blade can cause the deadly bacterial infection if you cut yourself with it. You can read here when it is time to change the razor blade.

  • This is how you can prevent tetanus: Immediately get rid of old blades that are already starting to rust! After each shave, you should rinse the blades well with hot water and disinfect them from time to time. Razors are real sources of bacteria. And don’t forget: A tetanus vaccination should be refreshed every 10 years – this is the best way to protect yourself.

5. What can lead to impetigo and what is it?

Impetigo is a superficial skin infection caused by streptococci and causes weeping blisters. If the liquid dries, yellow or honey-colored crusts appear. In addition to an unpleasant itch, the skin disease can even be painful. And impetigo is one thing above all: highly contagious.

  • This is what you can do against impetigo: If you have impetigo, you should go to the doctor quickly and start antibiotic treatment. The infection then usually heals without complications or scars. Under no circumstances should you shave if you already have an area of ​​inflammation on your face. “Shaving spreads the disease over the entire face,” warns Dr. Thomas Meyer. Scratching is also taboo. Just like close physical contact with other people.

6. Does intimate shaving increase the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases?

Yes, because even though removing intimate hair can have a positive effect on hygiene, shaving intimate hair increases the risk of infecting you with sexually transmitted diseases. “Any small or large injury can serve as a portal of entry for pathogens,” explains Dr. Susanne Steinkraus. It’s no surprise that a study by… University of California in San Francisco 2016 shows that the risk of clamydia, gonorrhea, HIV, herpes, syphilis and genital warts is higher in people who frequently remove their pubic hair. Poor intimate hygiene is so dangerous

The risk of contracting papilloma viruses is also increased. Papilloma viruses can cause genital cancer in men, including penile and anal cancer. “Herpes cannot be triggered by shaving alone, but it can be provoked by skin irritation,” explains Dr. Thomas Meyer. You should therefore be particularly careful in the genital area if you want to shave.

  • How to prevent sexually transmitted diseases: A clean and safe shave is the be-all and end-all to prevent sexually transmitted diseases. Be careful when shaving to avoid small cuts that could allow pathogens to enter. Then according to Dr. Steinkraus also has no objection to intimate shaving.

You should keep this in mind every time you shave

To ensure that nothing goes wrong when shaving, you should follow a few rules of conduct. This way you can prevent small cuts and ingrown hairs.

  • Fresh razor blades: At the latest when you feel a pulling or tearing, it is high time to change the blade. Because dull blades irritate the skin due to additional friction. In addition, with a dull blade you have to shave the same area more often to get all the hairs. Often you automatically press harder. All of this causes unnecessary skin irritation. This is how often you should change your razor blades.
  • Trim long hair first: If you don’t shave regularly, you should first remove long hair with a trimmer. This will prevent the razor from clogging up, which would cause you to press harder and potentially cut yourself.
  • Use shaving gel or foam: Both make the hair softer. Thanks to a gel or foam, the blades glide more easily over the skin, so you don’t cut yourself as easily.
  • Shave in the direction of growth: You should always shave in the direction of hair growth, never against the grain. This prevents skin irritation.
  • Tighten skin: “When shaving, you should be particularly careful to tighten the skin a little with each stroke. This prevents the skin from getting caught between the blades, which leads to painful cuts,” advises Dr. Vanoosthuyze.
  • Apply aftershave lotion: It is best to rinse the skin with cold water after shaving. This cools, soothes the skin and closes the blood vessels, resulting in less redness and pimples. An after-shave product also calms you down. Lotions with fruit acids or an antiseptic, such as the one in the Lotion Against Ingrown Hair, help well is included.

Shaving isn’t as harmless as you might have thought. Wherever you damage the skin, it provides a target for bacteria and fungi. However, with a clean shave and proper care, you can reduce the nasty side effects and effects of shaving.

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