Itchy Beard: Causes & Remedies

About Itchy Beard:

An itchy beard can be unpleasant and uncomfortable. It can occur anytime when the beard is growing or even when it is fully grown.

Sometimes the itching can be very little and go off unnoticed. While at other times it can be strong enough to wake you up from good night sleep.

Beard hair is androgenic hair. Their growth is driven by testosterone and dihydrotestosterone.(1) More the testosterone more is the thickness and growth of the beard hair.

Causes Of An Itchy Beard

There are numerous causes of itchy beard. It can be natural and can be a serious condition as well.

Dryness of Skin

Dry skin that is also known as xerosis can be one of the reasons of itchy beard. It can develop due to the following factors:

  • Dry and wet weather conditions
  • Genetic factors, medications
  • Certain diseases
  • Soaps, shampoo, and certain facial products can affect the skin’s natural oil, drying up the skin and making the beard itchy.
  • Dry skin with scaling and thickening of the skin can be due to ichthyosis. This skin condition can be acquired or genetic types.
  • Psoriasis and eczema can also make the skin very dry and cause the beard to itch.

Ingrown hair

  • When the hairs are shaved, instead of growing outside, they grow into the follicle.
  • This leads to follicle getting inflamed and making the beard itchy. It is more common in those with tight and curly hair.
  • Ingrown hair is visible as the follicle gets red, bumpy, itchy, and inflamed around the area you have shaved.

Folliculitis

  • When the hair follicle of the beard region gets inflamed, it is known as folliculitis.
  • It can be a result of bacterial, viral, or fungal infection. It can also be due to the clogging of the hair follicle due to the ingrown hair.

Growing of Facial Hair

  • As you shave, the end of the hair gets a sharp edge inside the follicle. As the hair grows, the sharp edge scratches the follicle to come out. This can cause itching.
  • When the whole beard hairs are growing, it can lead to itching all over the beard.

Pseudofolluculitis Barbae

  • Pseudofolliculitis is a condition in which the hair instead of growing out from the follicle cuts the skin inside the follicle or curves back around into the skin. It occurs after shaving and is also referred to as razor bumps.
  • It leads to non-infectious itching on the skin.

Seborrheic Dermatitis

  • Seborrheic is a skin condition in which the skin becomes red, scaly, flaky, and itchy.
  • It mostly occurs on the scalp and is called dandruff. In those with oily skin, it can occur in the face and around the beard.
  • The symptoms include yellow and grey scales on the face and redness on the skin. On rubbing the skin the flakes fall off.

Tinea Barbae

  • Fungal infection in the beard is known as tinea barbae. It is caused by a dermatophyte fungus(2)
  • The appearance of fungal infection is red, inflamed, and crusty skin around the mouth, cheeks, and under the chin.

Fungal infection of beard is of two types:

  1. Tinea mentagrophytes var. Equinum that spread by coming in contact with affected horses.
  2. Tinea verrucosum that spread by coming in contact with cow or other affected livestock.

Remedies For Itchy Beard

There are a few ways in which an itchy beard can be treated.

Hygiene and Beard Care

Keeping the beard clean can help keep the dirt, bacteria, and oil from building up. Beard can be cleaned in the following way:

  • Take a shower regularly, at least once in a day.
  • If you skip showering, clean the beard with warm water
  • Various face beard products are available that can be used to clean the beard
  • Beard conditioners such as jojoba oil, or argan oil can be used to keep the beard hair naturally oily. Do a patch test before using anything new on the face.
  • Avoid extremely hot showers
  • Each time after shaving the beard use aftershave wash or lotion. Avoid using products with harsh chemicals.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, shaving should be done properly.(3) This can help minimize itching issues. Following steps can be adopted for shaving:

  • Wet the skin before shaving as it softens it
  • Apply shaving cream or gel after that.
  • Shave the hair in the direction of hair growth
  • Rinse after each swipe of the razor. Throw away the razor after 5-7 shaves.
  • Store the razor in a dry and clean area
  • If suffering from acne take special precautions while shaving or you can even wait till the acne subside.

Medications To Treat Itchy Beard

If itching in the beard is caused by an underlying condition, it is important to consult a doctor to address the issue.

The common treatment plans are as follows:

  • Lactic acid and urea containing ointments
  • Medications to fight bacterial infections
  • Corticosteroid creams for non-infectious causes
  • Ketoconazole for fungal infections
  • Glycolic acid for pseudofolliculitis barbae
  • Antifungal therapy for tinea barbae

Surgeries

  • If the itching becomes frequent, the doctor might suggest laser hair removal therapy.
  • The doctor might also recommend a procedure that might involve making an incision in the boil or carbuncle (skin abscesses).
  • Light therapy is another treatment option to combat inflammation of hair follicles.

Itchy beard is a common condition as a person grows the beard. Following hygiene measures and treating the underlying conditions can help treat it.

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