How to Solve Any Bear Related Skin Conditions

As we delve head-first into winter, guys with facial hair might notice the occasional itch, rash or pimple around their beard. And while most of the time this nothing a good couple of exfoliation sessions or beard oil applications can’t fix, sometimes it’s a sign of something that might need a little more attention. The real question is, how do you tell the difference between the two? We spoke to GQ‘s resident GP, Alison Barwise, to find out everything you all you need to know about common facial hair problems, how to cure them and most importantly how to avoid getting them in the first place…

Folliculitis Barbae

What is it?

This is an infection of the beard hair follicles. It causes red lumps, some of which may develop into pus filled spots, and is commonly associated with an itch.

What causes it?

It is caused by a bacteria. The most common bacteria is Staphylococcus Aureus that lives, usually harmlessly, up the nose in a significant proportion of the population.

Why did I get it?

Folliculitis is more common in men with an uncut beard, who shave “against the grain”, who have course hairs, sweat excessively, have an underlying skin condition such as eczema and who fail to regularly clean or change their razor.

What can I do about it?

Often folliculitis resolves by itself so if your symptoms are mild simply adhering to a regular and hygienic skin and beard cleansing regime whilst also remembering to change your razor may be all that is needed. Don’t forget to avoid sharing towels to limit the spread of infection to other household members.

If your symptoms are more severe or persist despite this you may need an antiseptic beard wash, an antibiotic cream or oral antibiotic course to settle your symptoms so it’s worth booking an appointment with your GP.

Tinea Barbae

What is it?

This is an infection of the skin around the beard. It causes a scaly red and inflamed rash, which may also become pus-filled and crusty. Some men notice hair loss in the affected area.

What causes is?

It is caused by a fungus.

Why did I get it?

Tinea is more common in men who have contact with dogs, cats, cattle and horses, men who sweat excessively, use oily or greasy products on their face or who have an underlying medical condition such as diabetes.

What can I do about it?

Fungal infections affecting the beard are unlikely to settle by themselves so booking an appointment to see your GP is advised. Your doctor may take a sample of skin scrapings (less dramatic than it sounds and not painful) and hairs to send to the lab for accurate diagnosis. They will then recommend an anti-fungal cream or tablet. In the meantime it is important to keep the area clean and dry and to avoid sharing towels.