An itchy beard can be unpleasant and uncomfortable. It can occur at any time, whether the beard is in the initial stages of growth or well established.
The itchy feeling can range from mild to severe — it may be easy to ignore and resolve on its own, or it might be very distracting and require medical treatment.
Because an itchy beard is a common occurrence, there are plenty of ways to deal with it. Some methods of treating an itchy beard are simple changes to hygiene or cleanliness routines.
However, if the itchiness is caused by an underlying medical condition, a doctor may need to prescribe medication or antibiotics.
Below are some common ways to find relief.
1. Keeping the face clean
Regularly washing the beard and face will prevent dirt and bacteria from building up. It will also ensure that the skin doesn't become too oily.
Wash the beard and face every day with warm water and cleanser. There are many beard-specific products which can be applied during or after washing. These are available to buy online.
2. Taking frequent baths or showers
Bathe or shower every day, or every other day. Do not use water that is excessively hot, and do not stay too long in the bath or shower.
3. Conditioning the beard
Conditioning beard hair will make it softer and less prone to irritate the skin. Applying jojoba or argan oils can keep a beard conditioned. These are available to buy online.
4. Avoiding chemicals
When shaving or trimming the beard, try not to use foams, washes, or lotions that contain harsh chemicals. Opt for a natural alternative.
5. Allowing the hair to grow
When growing out a beard, avoid shaving or trimming so that the hair can advance beyond the follicle. This will reduce risks of irritation and follicle damage.
If the cause of an itchy beard is an underlying skin condition, a doctor can prescribe medication to address the issue.
Common medications include:
- Ointment or cream containing lactic acid and urea. This will help to treat dry skin.
- Mupirocin (Bactroban) to fight bacterial infections.
- Antifungal cream to treat fungal infections.
- Corticosteroid cream if the cause is noninfectious.
- Hydrocortisone, clobetasol (Cormax), or desonide (Desonate) can be prescribed to treat seborrheic eczema if the inflammation is noninfectious.
- Ketoconazole (Nizoral) if the cause of seborrheic eczema is a fungal infection.
- Glycolic acid (Neo-Strata) to treat pseudofolliculitis barbae.
- Topical antifungal therapy to treat mild cases of tinea barbae. Oral antifungal treatment, such as itraconazole or terbinafine, is also useful.
Keep reading to learn more about each of the above conditions.
7. Surgeries and procedures
Should the itchiness become chronic, occurring with frequent bouts of infection and inflammation, a doctor may suggest laser hair removal.
Alternately, a doctor may recommend a procedure that involves making incisions to drain boils or carbuncles. Carbuncles, also known as skin abscesses, are clusters of boils that can cause or aggravate infections.
Photodynamic (light) therapy is another treatment option. This can be effective in combating infection and inflammation of hair follicles.
Some causes are minor, while others can be more serious and require treatment. The most common causes of an itchy beard are:
Growing facial hair
Depending on the ways that hair and follicles grow, the process of growing a beard can cause itchiness.
When a person shaves, the sharp edge of the hair remains inside the follicle. As the hair grows, the sharp edge can scratch the follicle and cause itchiness.
If a person who used to shave regularly starts to grow a beard, this may cause widespread irritation of follicles, which can result in considerable discomfort and itchiness.
People experience dry skin for many reasons, and it may be a reaction to:
- soaps or skincare products
- water that is too hot
- changes in the weather
- a lack of oil production in the skin
A condition called ichthyosis causes the skin to thicken and become scaly. There are 20 different types of this condition.
People usually have it because they carry a faulty gene passed down from their parents. Using emollients to moisturize the skin and brushing the hair to remove scales can help to manage ichthyosis.
Psoriasis and eczema are other skin conditions that cause severe dryness. They too can lead to an itchy beard.
When a hair that has been shaved or cut grows inward, back into the follicle, this is called an ingrown hair.
Resulting irritation can inflame the follicle and cause itchiness. Ingrown hairs usually appear as red bumps that can be itchy and painful.
Seborrheic eczema is also referred to as seborrheic dermatitis. This condition can cause the skin to become red and flaky. In some cases, yellow, greasy-looking scales appear. When located on the scalp, seborrheic eczema is commonly known as dandruff.
This condition can appear on a person's face, and people with oily skin are particularly susceptible.
Folliculitis describes inflammation of the hair follicle. If this occurs on the face, it may lead to an itchy beard.
Parasites, bacteria, fungi, and ingrown hairs can all cause inflammation. Folliculitis is usually noticeable, as the follicles of the beard area will look red and can be sore and painful. Blistering may also occur.
As it grows, a beard hair may slice the inside of the follicle, or curve backward and start to grow inside the skin. This is called pseudofolliculitis barbae.
The condition causes inflammation of the follicle, which in turn may cause itchy, painful razor bumps. Pus-filled blisters may also appear. Pseudofolliculitis barbae, unlike folliculitis, is not caused by infection.
Tinea barbae is caused by a fungus. It can cause the skin to turn red, crusty, and inflamed and may also cause itching. The cheeks, chin, and mouth are the most commonly affected areas.
An itchy beard is very common, especially when a person grows a beard for the first time.
Keeping the beard clean and letting the hair grow before shaving can help to keep itchiness to a minimum.
If itchiness is caused by an infection or underlying issue, recognizing this and seeking treatment can prevent further damage to the skin and the hair follicles.