10 Common Skin Irritants


Shaving and Hair Removal

Facial shaving is a daily ritual for many men.
Facial shaving is a daily ritual for many men.
© iStockphoto.com/diego_cervo

Shaving can irritate your skin when you haven't sufficiently lubricated the skin's surface. For lubrication, you can use a commercial shaving cream, or just a generous lather from soap. Without lubrication, the razor may have too much friction as it travels over your skin, and it can catch and scrape at the skin's surface. This can result in welts on the skin that burn and itch, called razor burn.

As an alternative, there are also many hair removal, or depilatory, creams on the market. Test each product on a small patch of skin before using it on larger areas. Depilatory users have reported allergic reactions and chemical burns with symptoms such as itching, rash, blisters, burning and peeling. If you experience any of these reactions when testing a depilatory, wash the area thoroughly to remove the cream, and avoid using that particular product.

Waxing removes the entire hair shaft from its follicle for a longer-lasting effect. Because the wax adheres to both skin and hair, the fast rip of the waxed strip can leave your leave your skin red, burning, itching and possibly bumpy for a few hours as it recovers from the trauma. Some waxing products can help reduce this, as can lotions and anti-inflammatory medications.

Permanent hair removal can be a tempting long-term solution to the skin irritation and other inconveniences of regular shaving and waxing. Both electrolysis and laser hair removal can give you a temporary stinging pain at the treatment site. Your skin can be slightly red and swollen for a short time following these procedures, and you can treat this with medicated ointments. Though rare, some who have had laser procedures have reported blistering, scarring, and a change in skin pigmentation [source: Mayo Clinic].