The term “strawberry skin” is used to describe a pitted or open-pored appearance to the skin. The tiny black bumps, which resemble the seeds of a strawberry, are skin pores and hair follicles clogged with dirt, bacteria, or oil. Although they usually appear when plucking the hair.
When hair is forcefully removed, such as with waxing, it causes stress on the surrounding skin. Many people develop mild bumps and swelling afterwards. Although this usually goes away within a few days, treatment can speed healing and prevent future bumps.
Many people develop folliculitis , a bumpy, pimple-like rash, after waxing. It is usually caused by inflammation. The swelling usually goes away on its own without treatment. If we have white or liquid bumps that last for more than a few days, folliculitis may be the result of a minor infection. This can usually be treated at home.
If we develop bumps after the initial swelling subsides, at most a week after waxing, they may be the result of ingrown hairs . Ingrown hairs are a specific type of folliculitis. They form when hair grows back into the skin instead of coming out of the skin’s surface. Ingrown hairs cause small round bumps or pustules that resemble acne. Hair may or may not be visible within the bump. We are more likely to develop ingrown hairs if the hair is naturally curly or coarse.
Although ingrown hairs may eventually surface on their own, there are a few things we can do to help bring them to the surface and relieve symptoms.
Shaving , particularly improper shaving with old, dull razors or no shaving cream, can sometimes cause strawberry skin. Razor burn can lead to strawberry legs and can cause folliculitis to develop. Shaving can also result in ingrown hairs.
Additionally, dry skin can cause or exacerbate the symptoms of strawberry skin, as well as other conditions that mimic open pores. However, dryness, by itself, does not cause pores to darken. If the skin is exceptionally dry, we are more likely to develop irritation when we shave. This could leave us vulnerable to developing razor burn, folliculitis, and the characteristic “strawberry skin” appearance.
Quick tips to reduce inflammation
While it’s usually best to leave open pores alone so they can heal on their own, there are a few things we can try to reduce swelling and inflammation:
- Wear loose clothing . Tight fabrics can increase irritation on already sensitive skin.
- Apply a cold compress to help soothe the affected area. You can use an ice pack or make a compress yourself by running a clean washcloth under cool water. Apply the compress to the affected area for up to 20 minutes.
- Use a warm compress to help remove ingrown hairs. You can use a heating pad or make a compress yourself by running a clean cloth under hot water. Apply the compress to the affected area for up to 5 minutes at a time.
- Avoid pinching or popping the pores. Not only can this damage your skin, but poking and poking can introduce bacteria and increase your risk of infection.
- Avoid perfumed products , lotions and creams, which can irritate sensitized skin.
- Apply an over-the-counter cortisone cream to the waxed area to reduce inflammation.
- Avoid excessive activity for 24 hours after waxing. Perspiration can irritate freshly shaved skin.
- Cleanse and exfoliate regularly. Removing dead skin and other debris can help release embedded hair and prevent further ingrown hairs.
Home and natural remedies
If we are dealing with persistent irritation or inflammation, we may be able to use natural or home remedies to find relief. We may already have one or more of the ingredients for these home remedies in our kitchen or medicine cabinet. If not, we can probably find them at the local pharmacy.
A simple homemade sugar scrub can help soothe irritation and prevent ingrown hairs from forming. To make your own, we will mix half a cup of sugar with half a cup of coconut or olive oil. We will apply a small amount to the affected area and gently rub in circular motions.
We may find that daily exfoliation is too harsh on the skin, so we’ll exfoliate every other day to start.
If we have an aloe vera plant, all we have to do to enjoy the nutritional benefits is to break off a piece of the leaf. We will squeeze the essence of the plant directly on the affected area and gently massage it into the skin to calm inflammation and reduce open pores.
We can do this up to three times a day. If we do not have the plant at home, we can buy its essence in supermarkets and pharmacies. You have to check that it is exclusively aloe vera, without added perfumes.
tea tree essential oil
Tea tree oil can also soothe freshly shaved skin. Oil is most likely to clog pores in the first day or two after waxing, so we’ll reserve this remedy for persistent or delayed irritation.
We must dilute the essential oil of tea tree with a carrier, such as olive or coconut oil, before applying it to the skin. We will add 10 drops of carrier oil for every drop of tea tree oil. We will test for allergies with a patch of diluted tea tree oil on the arm. If there is no reaction within 24 hours, we can use it.
Witch hazel and apple cider vinegar
Witch hazel has astringent and antiseptic properties that can help soothe and prevent breakouts. We will soak a cotton pad in pure witch hazel extract and apply it to the affected area up to three times a day.
Apple cider vinegar is another natural antiseptic. We will soak a cotton pad in apple cider vinegar and apply it to the inflamed area up to three times a day to speed healing and prevent infection.
creams and gels
We can also use traditional beauty products to soothe irritated skin and help prevent lumps from forming.
Hydrocortisone cream is a topical steroid that reduces inflammation and swelling. Can be applied after waxing to soothe irritation.
Gel containing tea tree oil can help soothe inflammation and reduce the risk of infection. Unlike tea tree oil, gels do not clog pores and can be applied immediately after waxing. Aloe vera gel, derived from the aloe vera plant, also has soothing, moisturizing, and anti-inflammatory benefits.
How to prevent strawberry skin
Routine cleansing and exfoliation is the easiest and most effective way to prevent open pores from forming after waxing.
We’ll make sure to use a gentle scrub or exfoliating cloth every other day , at a minimum, to prevent the buildup of dead skin cells and other debris. Once we start waxing, it’s important that we keep our appointments. They are usually spaced four to six weeks apart to align with the hair’s natural growth cycle.
If we schedule an appointment outside of this schedule, or use other hair removal techniques between appointments, we will disrupt the growth pattern. This increases the risk of irritation and ingrown hairs.
If the skin is still irritated and we continue to have open pores as the appointment approaches, we will call in a hair removal specialist. They can determine if it should be rescheduled. You should also check if we are starting or close to starting the menstrual cycle. Although a hair removal specialist can still perform the service, the skin may be more sensitive than normal during this time.
On the other hand, while an epilator can be uncomfortable or even painful (much like waxing), anecdotal evidence suggests that this form of hair removal can prevent strawberry legs from occurring. Not using shaving cream may also be causing the symptoms, so make sure you carefully moisten the area before it comes into contact with a razor.
And speaking of razors, it is recommended to use new disposable razors with sharp blades and razors with flexible blades. We will look for a razor with some blade flexibility to contour curves, or pivoting razor heads. If the blade is too wide, we may apply too much pressure and cut ourselves.