By Melanie Rud
If you’ve ever had face-to-face contact with someone who has facial hair, a makeout session, some close cuddling) you may have walked away with some red, rashy-looking bumps on your face. In other words, you had a case of beard burn. It’s not uncommon, and, to a certain extent, somewhat unavoidable in the above mentioned scenarios—although there are things you can do to minimize the severity, as well as easy tips for treating this irksome irritation when it does pop up. Here, top dermatologists explain more.
What is beard burn?
Technically speaking, beard burn is a type of contact dermatitis, an umbrella term for a variety of different types of skin irritations and reactions. “It occurs when hair, typically facial hair, causes irritation when rubbed against the skin after kissing or any other form of contact,” explains Dr. Jeremy Brauer, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and the founder of Spectrum Skin and Laser in Purchase, New York. “The friction from stubble or coarse facial hair rubbing against smooth skin causes minor abrasions, leading to irritation, redness, and a burning sensation,” adds Dr. Kautilya Shaurya, MD, board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in NYC. Beard burn can also show up as red bumps or patches, as well as dryness and irritation, Dr. Brauer notes, adding that it’s important to keep in mind that this isn’t the same thing as razor burn. (The latter often manifests with similar symptoms, but occurs when skin is irritated as after shaving.)
Are certain people more likely to get beard burn from kissing?
“Beard burn can affect all skin types and tones, but if the person you had contact with has thicker or coarser hair there’s a higher risk of it happening,” Dr. Shaurya explains. Individuals with sensitive skin are typically more prone to it, due to their skin’s heightened reactivity to external factors, including friction, he adds. And those with dry skin can also be more susceptible, since the rubbing strips away natural oils from the skin, Dr. Brauer notes.
What can you do to avoid beard burn?
Ask the person with the facial hair to keep it well-groomed and soft by using beard oils and conditioners, Dr. Shaurya suggests. “On the receiving end, using a barrier cream or moisturizer before contact can help,” he adds. Still, even with these precautions, it’s still possible that you may experience it to some extent. To that point…
What are the best ways to heal beard burn?
Dr. Shaurya recommends cleansing the area with a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser before applying a cream or lotion that contains skin-soothing ingredients such as chamomile or aloe vera. You can also apply an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream to help combat the inflammation and irritation, although if symptoms continue for longer than a week or two, see your dermatologist, notes Dr. Brauer.