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Pseudofolliculitis of the Beard

  • Author: Thomas G Greidanus, MD; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
Updated: Feb 10, 2016


Pseudofolliculitis barbae (PFB) or shaving bumps is a foreign body inflammatory reaction involving papules and pustules. It primarily affects curly haired males who shave.[1] Pseudofolliculitis barbae can also affect some white men and hirsute black women. Pseudofolliculitis pubis is a similar condition occurring after pubic hair is shaved.



Two mechanisms are involved in the pathogenesis of pseudofolliculitis barbae: (1) extrafollicular penetration occurs when a curly hair reenters the skin, and (2) transfollicular penetration occurs when the sharp tip of a growing hair pierces the follicle wall.

Black men who shave are predisposed to this condition because of their tightly curved hair. The sharp pointed hair from a recent shave briefly surfaces from the skin and reenters a short distance away. Several methods of close shaving result in a hair cut below the surface. These methods include pulling the skin taut while shaving, shaving against the grain, plucking hairs with tweezers, removing hairs with electrolysis, and using double- or triple-bladed razors. The close shave results in a sharp tip below the skin surface, which is then more likely to pierce the follicular wall, causing pseudofolliculitis barbae with transfollicular penetration.[2, 3]



US frequency

About 10-80% of adult black men have pseudofolliculitis barbae, particularly those who shave closely on a regular basis. It is a significant problem in black men in the military where regulations require a clean-shaven face.[4]


Pseudofolliculitis barbae is found mostly in black men.


Men with facial hair comprise most patients, although hirsute women can also develop pseudofolliculitis barbae. Both sexes can develop pseudofolliculitis pubis. Common sites in black women and those of ethnic backgrounds characterized by darker skin include the pubic and axillary areas because these are more frequent sites of hair removal in this population.


Pseudofolliculitis barbae affects men with facial hair (postpuberty).

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Thomas G Greidanus, MD Emergency Physician, Parkview Medical Center

Thomas G Greidanus, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Emergency Medicine, American College of Emergency Physicians, American Association for Physician Leadership, American Medical Association, Colorado Medical Society

Disclosure: Received ownership interest from Incendant Inc. for other.


Beth Honl, MD Dermatology Associates, PC; Private Practice

Beth Honl, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology, American Medical Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Richard P Vinson, MD Assistant Clinical Professor, Department of Dermatology, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Paul L Foster School of Medicine; Consulting Staff, Mountain View Dermatology, PA

Richard P Vinson, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology, Texas Medical Association, Association of Military Dermatologists, Texas Dermatological Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Jeffrey Meffert, MD Associate Clinical Professor of Dermatology, University of Texas School of Medicine at San Antonio

Jeffrey Meffert, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology, American Medical Association, Association of Military Dermatologists, Texas Dermatological Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Dirk M Elston, MD Professor and Chairman, Department of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery, Medical University of South Carolina College of Medicine

Dirk M Elston, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Jaggi Rao, MD, FRCPC Clinical Professor of Medicine, Division of Dermatology and Cutaneous Sciences, Director of Dermatology Residency Program, University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry

Jaggi Rao, MD, FRCPC is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology, American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery, Canadian Medical Association, Pacific Dermatologic Association, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, Canadian Medical Protective Association, Canadian Dermatology Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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Pseudofolliculitis barbae on the neck of a black man.
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