The delicate skin underneath the arms is especially prone to the perils of daily shaving that can result in redness, itchiness or irritating bumps. But you don't have to ditch your blade and go native if you find out the kindest and most effective ways to treat your sensitive underarms.
The most important tool for an irritation-free shave is the razor. Use a sharp multiblade razor -- reusable razors are generally higher quality than disposables -- and change blades often. Dermatologists recommend getting rid of blades after a few uses, but Oprah.com notes a study by Gillette found that the average woman changes blades less than once a month. Store your razor in a clean, dry area. A dull blade is more likely to cause nicks, and a razor stored in a damp shower or bathtub can collect bacteria. Shaving with a germ-ridden blade can cause those dreaded little red bumps.
Shaving in the shower or bath with warm water will open your pores, soften the hair and allow for a closer shave with less skin irritation. Wait to shave until the end of the shower when the steam has had a chance to do its job. Never attempt to shave dry, or you'll be causing unnecessary friction and scraping off skin follicles along with the hair.
Once your skin is clean and soft, apply a moisturizing cleanser or moisturizing shave cream. In addition to imparting moisture, these creams let the razor glide over the skin and help prevent razor burn. Try soaps and creams formulated for sensitive skin if you are prone to irritation from shaving. Wet your underarms, apply the product then shave in the direction of hair growth without pressing down too hard on the razor, rinsing the blade after each stroke.
Wash your razor after each use, as hair, skin and soap can build up and cause your blade to dull prematurely. If shaving in the morning and then applying deodorant exacerbates bumps or causes a rash, switch to a hypoallergenic brand or consider shaving before bed and applying deodorant in the morning. If you are still irritated after shaving, apply an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream to soothe skin.
Hilary White is a professional writer and editor based in San Diego. White has been writing articles on fashion, style, fitness, nutrition, movies and entertainment since 1994. Her articles have been published in "Westways" magazine, "Pages" magazine, "Book Street USA," "Magill's Cinema Annual," and numerous titles from Visible Ink Press. White holds a bachelor's degree in English from Michigan State University.