Shaving is a fast and easy way to get rid of unwanted hair. The sad part is it also has several side effects such as cuts, ingrown hairs, and short-lived results. Shaving, moreover, may lead to clogged pores, resulting in small, dark spots on your skin. These are also called strawberry legs because they resemble strawberry seeds.
So, what exactly are strawberry legs?
Also referred to as strawberry skin, strawberry legs are characterized by small, dark spots on the skin that can make it look like the surface of a strawberry. These spots can appear on any area where you have hair, but they commonly occur on legs. Strawberry skin is also more visible on lighter skin.
Typical symptoms include:
- Dark (black or brown) spots that show up after shaving legs
- Open pores that look dark, like blackheads
- A pitted or dotted look on the leg
What causes strawberry legs?
Strawberry legs occur when your pores or hair follicle becomes clogged with dirt, oil, bacteria, or dead skin. They are mostly associated with shaving, but can also be due to an underlying skin condition.
Here are the most common reasons for strawberry skin/legs:
- Shaving – This is especially true if you do it the wrong way like using a dull razor or shaving without lubricant or shaving cream. This method can also lead to ingrown hairs, which may look like strawberry legs.
- Folliculitis – This is a skin infection caused by an inflamed or infected follicle. Folliculitis appears as tiny red bumps like acne, but they can darken and look like strawberry legs. It can be due to waxing or shaving, wearing tight clothing, as well as excessive sweating in hot conditions.
- Dry skin – While this does not directly cause strawberry skin, it increases your risk. And as dry skin tends to be sensitive, you are also more likely to irritate your legs when shaving. Blackheads or strawberry legs are also more noticeable with dry skin.
- Keratosis pilaris -This is a different condition than strawberry skin, but it causes tiny red bumps on the skin that look like goosebumps. Keratosis pilaris is sometimes referred to as “chicken skin” and tends to appear on the upper arms and thighs. This doesn’t usually require treatment, but if it becomes irritated, it is best to see a skin doctor.
Strawberry legs don’t usually cause pain or itching, so if you notice any of these two symptoms see your healthcare provider.
How to prevent or get rid of strawberry legs
Knowing the underlying cause and making some changes in self-care habits can help treat or prevent strawberry legs. Here are a few things that can help”
Use new and high-quality razors
Dull and old razors won’t just do a good job in removing hairs; they can also lead to nicks, burns, and irritation. Using them also results in ingrown hairs, which can resemble strawberry legs. Dull blades, furthermore, can cause more cuts and skin irritation than a new, sharp blade.
It is also advisable to invest in a quality razor, as cheap ones dull faster and wear out sooner. The same is also true for single-blade disposable razors. It is better to invest in those with five or four blades, especially if you want a smooth, silky shave. Replace them every five to seven shades or when you see patchy or missed areas.
As exfoliating removes dead skin cells, it helps new hair grow easily. It can loosen up the oil and dirt clogged in your pores, preventing new ones from getting trapped in your pores and razor when you shave. This can help reduce the appearance of strawberry skin, as well as prevent it from recurring.
There are many ways to exfoliate. You can do this by using a body scrub, loofah, towels, or a brush. There are also chemical exfoliants that have alpha hydroxy acids like glycolic acid that can help with exfoliation and speed up cell turnover. Just don’t overdo it as too much exfoliation can damage your skin barrier and irritate your skin.
Use moisturizing shaving cream
This sounds like just an extra expense, but there are actually benefits to using shaving cream instead of just regular soap or water. This helps soften the hair and follicle, reducing friction and irritation when you shave your legs. Shaving creams also prevent the pulling and tugging of hairs, as they allow the blades to glide easily.
You can use a hair conditioner when you’re in a pinch, but avoid using regular bar soap. It doesn’t offer enough lubrication for a razor to glide easily against your skin, which can increase your risk of nicks, cuts, and irritation.
Shave with the grain
This means shaving in the direction of your hair growth. This is less irritating to the skin and helps prevent burns, folliculitis, or strawberry legs. Just make sure to avoid passing the razor too many times over the same area, as this can cause irritation.
Also, when shaving, use short and light strokes, and don’t stretch your skin too tight. Pat your skin dry (don’t rub) and apply an oil or moisturizer. This protects and moisturizes the skin.
Shaving doesn’t cut hairs; it also removes dead skin cells. This makes the skin more prone to dryness, which is why it is always a must to apply a moisturizing oil or lotion after shaving. Doing so hydrates your legs and ensures soft and silky-feeling skin.
Moisturizing is particularly important if you have dry skin. In this case, choose a product that is rich and creamy or those with shea or cocoa butter. Also, make it a habit to apply lotion after a bath or exfoliation.
Try laser hair removal or other permanent hair reduction procedures
At Cutis, we have a number of permanent hair reduction treatments that can be used on the legs, face, and other areas of the body. These methods free you from the hassle of shaving or waxing, as well as help you avoid irritation, cuts, strawberry skin, and other associated side effects.
- Laser hair removal (Cutera CoolGlide) – delivers pulses of light energy that target hundreds of hair follicles in a short period. It is safe on all skin types and tones, including those with tanned and darker skin.
- SHR (Super Hair Removal) – uses light energy at a higher frequency to target the pigment and stem cells responsible for hair growth. It is suitable for all skin colors and hair types, including Asian ones. SHR can also treat almost any area.
- ProWave LX – uses high peak powers with shorter pulse widths for fast and effective treatment. It uses infrared light that targets the germ cell or the follicle, destroying the pigment. It can treat fine and light hair and different skin types (Fitzpatrick I-IV). Find out what makes ProWave LX different.
- LHE (Touch Elite with LHE) – combines light and heat energy (LHE) to increase the temperature of hair follicles and destroy them. It only delivers light and thermal energy to the follicles, so there is no damage to the skin.
Take note: You’ll need multiple sessions, as not all hairs are in the same growth cycle. The number of sessions will depend on factors such as the hair thickness, areas being treated, and the hair’s growth cycle.
Further reading: Hair Removal Methods: Ranked from Worst to Best
If your strawberry skin is due to an underlying condition, talk to your doctor. They can provide treatment options such as corticosteroids or antibiotics, as well as tips and other medications that can prevent irritation or strawberry legs.
Book a consultation
If you usually notice strawberry skin after shaving, you need to change habits or ditch your razor. Contact Cutis Medical Laser Clinics today to learn more about hair removal methods or schedule a consultation with our aesthetic doctor. As all our treatments target and destroy the follicles, you can enjoy lasting results and silky-smooth skin.