Pseudofolliculitis Barbae (PFB), also known as barber’s itch, is a medical term for persistent irritation caused by shaving. It is a particular problem for men with dark skin types and naturally thick and curly hair. Indeed, people with curly hair are about 50 times more likely to suffer from PFB than those with straight hair.
As their hair begins to grow back after shaving, it tends to curl into the skin rather straight out the follicle. This prompts the body’s immune system to react as if the body were being invaded, leading to inflammation with the skin looking itchy and red. These inflammations can become infected and eventually cause hard bumps, or keloid scars. In addition to this extrafollicular hair, there is also transfollicular hair which never exits the follicle, curling back into it and causing fluid build-up and irritation.
PFB is most common on the male face but can also happen elsewhere on the body where hair is plucked or shaved. This is especially the case where hair is curly and the skin sensitive (e.g. the bikini area, which is more correctly termed pseudofolliculitis pubis).
Permanent laser hair removal and the Nd:Yag
The Nd:Yag laser has proved very effective in reducing the severity of PFB in dark skinned individuals (Fitzpatrick skin type IV to VI). The Nd:Yag laser achieves long lasting or permanent hair reduction by using conductive thermal diffusion to the melanin contained in the hair shaft. This causes lethal damage to the hair bulb and bulge area. The laser’s wavelength is safe and effective, with its greater penetration allowing an increased ratio of hair bulb to epidermal heating in patients.
It’s common to see a large amount of hair ejection during a session. Typically patients see a large reduction in hair by the time of their second visit, sometimes noting as much as a 50% reduction. We recommend six to eight laser hair removal sessions, with treatments usually scheduled every four to six weeks.