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Barber’s Itch or Pseudofolliculitis Barbae: Types, Causes, Treatment, Alternative Options

Pseudofolliculitis barbae (PFB) is a scientific term to denote Barber’s itch. It is also identified with the symptoms such as bumps from the razor, blemishes in the beard or unceasing itchiness because of shaving. Barber’s itch or Pseudofolliculitis Barbae was initially coined in 1956.

Barber’s Itch condition is a swelling in the in-growing hairs near the beard. It is noticeable in African-American men who cut the hair off the face with a razor. It is mainly visible in the face and neck areas. This condition is also noticed in women who get bikini waxing done have also seen to develop itching in the groin region. It results in development of keloids (dark raised scars) in affected regions.

Barber's Itch or Pseudofolliculitis Barbae

The initial symptoms are small pimples or red swelling around the root of the hair. If not identified and treated early, it can spread and become sore, while taking long time to heal.

Although this condition is not hazardous to a person’s life, it causes infections, itching, soreness and finally resulting in dark blemishes on the skin. Some of these infections may cause permanent hair loss and hinder the growth of hair follicle.

Mild case of Pseudofolliculitis Barbae can be easily cured with little medication, if identified early. But repeated occurrence of barber’s itch is a serious condition, which requires an expert shrink’s opinion.

Signs and Symptoms of Barber’s Itch or Pseudofolliculitis Barbae

Pseudofolliculitis or Barber’s itch is generally identified by tiny white pimples with pus in the beard region for men. When a razor is run over the hair in this region, it ruptures these pimples and causes infections. Also it results in scarring of the skin. Blackheads or whiteheads occur on the upper lip, chin & jaw bone regions and turn into boils or bigger pimples as the shaving gradually continues.

Different Types of Barber’s Itch or Pseudofolliculitis Barbae

Barber’s itch is again classified into couple of categories. One is the transfollicular in-growth and the other is the extrafollicular in-growth. The extrafollicular hair comes out of the follicle and again enters the skin. Where-as the transfollicular hair doesn’t come out of the follicle, but has a naturally curly tendency, causing the hair to curl back into the follicle and increase fluid-levels. It results in irritation.

Causes of Barber’s Itch or Pseudofolliculitis Barbae

The main cause for barber’s itch is the in growing hairs which is curly. When a razor is run over curly hair, its edges become sharp and regrowth into the skin begins, instead of growing away. The sharp hair pushes its way into the skin resulting in fluid build-up. The follicles get damaged and infected with Staphylococcus, causing infections.

Risk Factors for Barber’s Itch or Pseudofolliculitis Barbae

Barber’s itch or pseudofolliculitis barbae condition can be treated with proper medication. But there are certain risk factors associated if a person is vulnerable to some conditions such as:

Decrease in body resistance due to health ailments such as diabetes, chronic cancer etc. which result in lesser production of white blood corpuscles .

  • Highly sensitive skin.
  • Diseased skin conditions such as allergies, eczema.
  • Treatments involving constant usage antibiotic remedies.
  • Obesity or over weight.
  • Bathing in warm or hot water.
  • Extensive usage of warmers or thermals.

Tests to Diagnose Barber’s Itch or Pseudofolliculitis Barbae

Barber’s itch or pseudofolliculitis barbae is analyzed by seeing the basic appearance of the skin. Sometimes, a test to confirm the infection is done using scientific methods or even a skin biopsy is recommended by the doctor to confirm the disease condition.

Treatment Options for Barber's Itch or Pseudofolliculitis Barbae

Treatment Options for Barber’s Itch or Pseudofolliculitis Barbae

Barber’s itch or pseudofolliculitis barbae can be treated in the initial stages itself by taking simple precautions. One must be careful while shaving. Sharing of face towels with others is not recommended. Here are some ways to treat barber’s itch or pseudofolliculitis barbae if the problem alleviates.

  • Using antifungal or antibiotic medicines or gels prescribed by the doctor and applying it regularly in the affected areas. These can also be taken in the form of tablets or oral medication if a patient is allergic to the creams. It is recommended that these medicines are used after proper prescription as there are chances of adverse effects if the wrong medicine is taken.
  • It is better to stop using razor over the affected area till the problem subsides. Barber’s itch or pseudofolliculitis barbae condition comprises of pus filled in the skin cells and shaving will rupture them resulting in spreading the infections. It may also spread to other parts of the body and face. If shaving is unavoidable, it is recommended to use electronic razors instead of the regular blades as they do not cut closely.
  • Proper shaving techniques can be applied if the condition is not severe. Apply warm water to moist the skin with a shaving brush. This will clear any dust particles present and make the facial hair better to be cut. Electronic razor is recommended than the age old razor blade technique. To foam the area, shaving gels are better than the shaving creams as the gels have smooth texture and easy shave features. Always shave in the direction of the hair growth. Doing reverse shave will cause the hair edges to become rough. Rinse your face with warm water thoroughly after shaving and apply antiseptic liquid.
  • Various itch stopping creams are available and it is suggested to use these to get relief from the itching sensation. Also anti-itching lotions are available which can be massaged into the skin. It helps avoid rashes & itchiness. Some of these act like anesthesia and deaden the nerve endings, ceasing an itching sensation. Other creams have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal actions. Before using any of these, it is better to consult a dermatologist and ensure that you do not have side effects by using them. Cold compress is another technique which makes nerve endings insensitive and relieves a person of itchiness.
  • Sharing personal bath or face towels should be avoided. This will help in sanitizing the person’s health and will prevent spreading of the infections. It may also happen that by using others towels, the wounds which are healing may alleviate and the person may catch new infections. The towels used by infected people should be washed in hot water with antiseptic liquid which and plenty of detergent. The clothes which are in contact with the infected part should also be laundered well.
  • If the infection develops into boils or huge pimples with pus, do not burst them randomly with your fingers. This will further spread the infection. Apply a cloth which is soaked in a solution of salt and hot water and cooled to room temperature for half an hour each day. Slowly the skin will rupture and you can squeeze out all the pus. It is better to get the dressing for these wounds done by a doctor to help, heal quickly.

Alternative Treatment Options for Barber’s Itch or Pseudofolliculitis Barbae

Neem Oil Remedy for Barber’s Itch or Pseudofolliculitis Barbae

Azadirachta Indica or neem is one of the best and natural remedies to treat the problem of barber’s itch or pseudofolliculitis barbae. It has a long standing history about the antifungal and antibiotic properties.

Neem leaves have medicinal values that prove to be antifungal, anthelmintic, antibacterial, anti-diabetic, anti-fertility, antiviral and sedative. All the parts of a neem tree, like leaves, seeds, bark and as well as flowers are used in preparing various medicines.

Due to its antifungal and antibiotic properties, neem oil is considered safe to be used as a treatment to barber’s itch or pseudofolliculitis barbae. Although scientific study is not available in this regard, neem oil can be relied upon to get relief from itchiness.

Goldenseal Plant Remedy for Barber’s Itch or Pseudofolliculitis Barbae

Goldenseal is a herb and its dried root is used to make medicines. Goldenseal contains a chemical substance called as berberine, which might have effects against bacteria and fungi.

Barber’s Itch or Pseudofolliculitis Barbae mainly is related to the rise in bacterial and fungal infections. Hence Goldenseal is applied to the infected parts and can help in reducing the infections.

A research study from Ain Shams University, Egypt on berberine’s properties suggests that it can treat bacterial infections, but deeper extensive study is needed with evidences to prove its reliability.

How is Barber’s Itch or Pseudofolliculitis Barbae Prevented?

Simple natural techniques can be implemented as a substitute for medicines to prevent Pseudofolliculitis Barbae condition.

  • Using mild antibacterial bath soap for shower. Taking bath at regular intervals after vigorous activities with hot or warm water to prevent the clogging of pores and cleaning the dust from skin.
  • Keep away from dispensing used face towels or personal products such as soaps, bath towels etc.
  • Always use clean freshly laundered towels.
  • Suppress itching by applying itch relief lotions or creams instead of scratching it.
  • Avoid clean shave. Change razor blades each time shaving is done. Electronic razors are recommended in these conditions.
  • Oils and creams clog pores and pin down more bacteria. Keep away from using oils or moisturizers while infection persists.

Complications for Barber’s Itch or Pseudofolliculitis Barbae

Initial stages of barber’s itch or pseudofolliculitis barbae can be cured easily with proper medications. It will not lead to rise in issues but aggravated barber’s itch or pseudofolliculitis barbae condition causes darkening of skin, scarring, bumps and boils. Also it may result in permanent hair loss. This condition must be taken seriously and handled well to avoid further damage to the patient.


  1. MedicalNewsToday. (2022). Barber’s itch: What it is and how to treat it. [https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325977]
  2. Healthline. (2022). Razor Bumps (Pseudofolliculitis Barbae). [https://www.healthline.com/health/razor-bumps]

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 25, 2023

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