Pseudofolliculitis results from body hairs that become ingrown generally due to shaving, waxing, or plucking. It is particularly a problem among individuals with very curly or coarse hair. The ingrown hairs result in inflamed bumps and/or pustules. Any areas of the skin that are shaved can develop pseudofolliculitis such as the face, neck, legs, or scalp.


The only way to treat the problem is to let the hair grow (i.e., stop shaving or plucking). For some, this may not be an option. There are measures that can decrease the number of ingrown hairs.


Shaving recommendations for the body

  • Avoid shaving with only water or a soap bar. This can cause a more drying and irritating effect.
  • Use a non-irritating, highly lubricating shaving product such as Aveeno Therapeutic Shave Gel, to soften and moisturize the hairs.
  • Shave with, not against, the direction of hair growth. The key is to shave in a manner that does not give a close shave.

Shaving recommendations for the face

  • Use adjustable electric or nonelectric razors that can be angled at a low setting to achieve a less-close shave. Consider a razor specially made for razor bumps (e.g., PFB Bump Fighter) for beards, which cuts hair at a length that reduces the likelihood that the hair tip will re-enter the skin.
  • Try chemical depilatories. Although these may smell bad and be irritating, they can be successful in eliminating ingrown hairs. Do not use more than twice a week and allow three to five days to pass between uses.

Other treatments

Nonprescription washes, bar soaps, and gels containing benzoyl peroxide are available at most pharmacies. The antibacterial effect of these products can help in preventing pseudofolliculitis.

If the problem is persistent, prescription topical therapies may be necessary, including:

  • antibiotics: topical and/or oral
  • benzoyl peroxide: gels and washes
  • tretinoin (Retin-A): cream, gel, or liquid for the face corticosteroids: topical treatment for severe inflammation.