Beard rash is an annoying, sometimes painful problem that can become worse over time if not recognized and treated properly. It is best to avoid the condition entirely by taking preventative measures, such as not using old or soiled razors and practicing good personal hygiene. Warm saltwater soaks can help if the rash develops pustules. Topical antibacterial creams and lotions can also help alleviate symptoms. In advanced cases, prescription antibiotics might be necessary for the condition to heal properly.
Otherwise known as barber’s itch, beard rash occurs when the hair follicles in a beard area become infected with bacteria. Normally, the bacteria that cause the condition wouldn’t be able to break the barrier of the skin, but shaving compromises that barrier, allowing the bacteria to infect the follicles. The condition, known more commonly in medical circles as sycosis barbae, will typically appear as a red, itchy rash that can develop small, pus-filled pockets.
It is best to avoid the rash altogether by following simple preventative measures. First and foremost, you must follow good personal hygiene, washing your face and hands often to prevent the spread of bacteria. Don’t use dirty or worn-out razors, and avoid reusing disposable ones. It is wise not to share clippers or combs with another person because doing so could spread bacteria. Although shaving while your face is wet might feel more comfortable, it can encourage the rash because the skin is more vulnerable to bacterial intrusion when wet.
If you suspect that you have beard rash, you should avoid shaving or, at the very least, switch to an electric shaver. Electric shavers are less traumatic to the skin. For mild cases, tea tree oil can help. Tea tree oil works as an antiseptic and has antibacterial properties. You can find aftershave lotions that contain tea tree oil, and it might be beneficial to add it to your shaving routine even before any signs of rash.
In some cases, small, white pustules will form in the area of the rash. Using a warm saltwater soak for 15 minutes twice a day will help relieve that condition. If the rash does not improve after a few days or gets worse, you might need antibiotics and should see your doctor. Sometimes, a topical antibacterial cream, such as vioform or mupirocin will be prescribed. In severe cases, oral antibiotics might be needed.
Left unattended, beard rash can become a chronic condition and can even cause scarring. Certain conditions, such as diabetes or autoimmune disorders, can predispose you to this condition. Once you’ve contracted beard rash, it is usually an indication that you will be susceptible to it in the future. In that event, you need to always be extremely conscientious in your personal hygiene and take the necessary preventative measures to avoid contracting the rash.