Pseudofolliculitis Barbae (PFB), also known as barber’s itch, is a medical term for persistent irritation caused by shaving. It is a particular problem for individuals with thick or curly hair . Indeed, people with curly hair are about 50 times more likely to suffer from PFB than those with straight hair.
As their hair begins to grow back after shaving, it tends to curl into the skin rather straight out the follicle. This prompts the body’s immune system to react as if the body were being invaded, leading to inflammation with the skin looking itchy and red. These inflammations can become infected and eventually cause hard bumps, or keloid scars. In addition to this extrafollicular hair, there is also transfollicular hair which never exits the follicle, curling back into it and causing fluid build-up and irritation.
PFB is most common on the male face but can also happen elsewhere on the body where hair is plucked or shaved. This is especially the case where hair is curly and the skin sensitive (e.g. the bikini area, which is more correctly termed pseudofolliculitis pubis)