Some scars are reminders of good memories, some are reminders of terrible events. And then there are scars that linger along the bikini line, armpits and other frequently-shaved body parts, which are just plain annoying. Unfortunately, those marks tend to linger; fortunately, they're probably not super noticeable to anyone but you. Banishing dark marks caused by shaving takes some trial and error but is usually an attainable goal.
Wait it Out
If dark marks caused by shaving have recently appeared, don't assume that they're permanent scars. They may just be areas of hyperpigmentation caused by inflammation. Anyone with sensitive skin may experience inflammation after shaving. Those marks may linger for several months but should fade eventually. Of course, waiting that long may not be an ideal solution – in which case, speed up the healing process using one of a few techniques.
Try Home Remedies
Medical research hasn't definitively proven that certain home remedies make scars disappear, but some people swear that products such as shea butter, tea tree oil, witch hazel and aloe vera work to lighten scars. Rub shea butter or aloe vera lotion directly onto the scars each day, or put a few drops of tea tree oil or witch hazel on a cotton swab and wipe it across the affected skin. They can cause a stinging sensation, so use them with caution on the bikini line. Vitamin E is commonly used for scarring, although it hasn't conclusively been proven to work.
Use Over-the-Counter Treatments
OTC products can be effective in reducing the appearance of razor bumps and the lingering dark marks they leave behind. Look for a product specifically made to treat ingrown hairs and razor burn. They're available in beauty supply stores and in pharmacies and are often stocked in the men's shaving aisle. Skin lighteners, made with ingredients like hydroquinone and vitamin C, won't make scars go away but will diminish their appearance.
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Head to the Dermatologist
If marks caused by shaving truly are permanent scars, or if no home remedies work, seeing a dermatologist is the best course of action. The doctor may suggest laser treatments, fillers or other strategies for minimizing the appearance of scars, some of which can give you immediate results.
Prevent Razor Bumps
Once you've waged one battle against dark scars, you'll never want to repeat it. Help prevent those marks from happening in the first place by adopting bump-proof shaving practices. Swap out razors after just a few uses to prevent nicking the skin or spreading bacteria, and get in the habit of exfoliating skin before shaving it. Finish with a lightweight, soothing moisturizer. When ingrown hairs or razor bumps do appear, resist the temptation to pick at or squeeze them, which only irritates the skin and raises the risk of scarring.
Kathryn Walsh has been writing about health, wellness and beauty for nearly 10 years. Her work has appeared on sites including USAToday.com, Mamapedia and Livestrong.com.