What treatment is available for young women who get frequent “hair bumps” in their pubic area? These bumps are common in women of color and often occur in conjunction with shaving. It may be a form of folluculitis, but I am not sure how best to treat the problem. — Kathleen J. Bailey, CNM, MA, MS, Suffolk, Va.

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Pseudofolliculitis is caused by shaved hair shafts inserting back into the skin, leading to inflammation and follicular papules. This occurs not only in the pubic area of young women, but also the beard area of men (where it is referred to as pseudofolliculitis barbae) and the hair-bearing sites of both sexes where traumatic hair removal (shaving or plucking) occurs. Superimposed bacterial impetiginization or infection (folliculitis) can also occur. Either never shaving or daily shaving is often suggested. Hair removal using depilatories (barium sulfate or calcium thioglycolate) often prevents subsequent “hair bumps.” However, if permanent elimination of hair is an acceptable alternative, laser hair removal is an excellent option. For more information, see Dermatol Ther. 2007;20:133-136, Dermatol Ther. 2004;17:158-163, and Mil Med. 2003;168:561-564.— Philip R. Cohen, MD (147-5)

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