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DIY treatment for 5 common beard problems


Whether your beard is close-cropped or full and bushy, skin problems can develop beneath it. With this expert advice from dermatologists, you can often treat five of the most common problems at home.

Beard acne

When you grow a beard, your beard hairs trap oil from your skin, dead skin cells, and bacteria next to your skin. Without the right skin care, these can clog your pores and cause acne.

To clear the breakouts beneath your beard, dermatologists recommend the following daily skin care:

  1. Keep your hands off your face. When you touch your beard, you spread the dirt and germs from your hands to your facial skin. This can lead to breakouts.

  2. Wash your face twice a day with a gentle facial cleanser that contains acne-fighting salicylic acid or glycolic acid. You want to use this facial cleanser because soaps and shampoos can irritate your skin. When you irritate your skin, acne often worsens.

    Scrubbing your skin clean tends to worsen acne

    For best results, apply the cleanser gently with your hands, using circular motions. Make sure you gently wash both your beard and the skin beneath.

  3. Rinse away the cleanser really well by splashing lukewarm water on your face. Using a washcloth can also irritate your skin, causing acne to flare.

  4. Use a clean towel to gently blot your skin dry. Dirt or germs on a dirty towel can lead to more breakouts.

  5. Apply an acne treatment that contains salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or a retinoid to your face, not just the breakouts. To prevent new blemishes, gently spread a thin layer of the acne medication evenly over your acne-prone skin.

  6. Groom your beard, using a small amount of non-comedogenic beard conditioner (but no beard oil). Without this step, the skin beneath your beard can become dry and itchy. When your skin becomes too dry, your body makes more oil. That can lead to new breakouts.

It takes time to get rid of acne. On average, you’ll need to use your acne treatment for two to three months to get clearing. If you don’t have fewer breakouts after one month, you likely need a different type of acne treatment.

For more DIY tips from dermatologists that can help you treat acne, go to 10 things to try when acne won’t clear.

Dandruff in your beard (beardruff)

Do you have flakes dusting your beard, along with an itchy rash, scaly skin, or greasy patches beneath your beard? You may have dandruff beneath your beard.

Board-certified dermatologist Ross Radusky, MD, FAAD, says seborrheic dermatitis, the medical name for dandruff, is incredibly common. Dr. Radusky recommends this three-step DIY approach to control dandruff beneath your beard and prevent it from returning.

  1. Gently brush your beard every day before you wash your face. This helps to gently lift the scale (skin that flakes off) and will help treatment work better.

  2. Treat the rash and greasy patches with hydrocortisone 1% solution. You can buy this medication without a prescription.

    For the first week: Dr. Radusky recommends that you “rub the medication into the skin beneath your beard, doing this every night before you go to bed.” For best results, apply the medication just after washing your face.

    To keep the dandruff under control: Dr. Radusky recommends that you apply the 1% hydrocortisone solution once a week when your skin feels scaly. Again, apply it before you go to bed, after washing your face.

  3. Shampoo your beard and scalp at least once a week with a dandruff shampoo. Dr. Radusky recommends using a dandruff shampoo that contains one of the following active ingredients:

    • 2% zinc pyrithione
    • 1% ketoconazole
    • 1% selenium sulfide

If you continue to have a rash after trying this DIY treatment, it’s time to see a dermatologist.

It’s also time to see a dermatologist if you continue to have beard dandruff and develop acne-like breakouts, pain, or broken skin beneath your beard.

Brush gently

If you brush too hard, you can irritate your skin and worsen the dandruff.

Man gently brushing his beard with a beard brush.

Dry, itchy skin

With the right skin care, you can ease the itch and dryness and prevent them from coming back. See the skin care plan that board-certified dermatologist Anthony Rossi, MD, FAAD, recommends at, A dermatologist’s top tips for a healthy beard.

Ingrown hairs

You get ingrown hairs when short, curly hairs curve back into your skin instead of growing out. For many people, this happens when they shave, which is why ingrown hairs are frequently called “razor bumps.”

You can also get these pimple-like, itchy bumps during the stubble phase of growing a beard or when trimming a beard.

To get rid of ingrown hairs and prevent them from returning, dermatologists recommend that you either stop trimming your beard or follow these recommendations when trimming:

  1. Shave at the end of your shower or immediately afterward. This softens the hairs, so they’re less likely to curl back into your skin.

  2. Before shaving, apply a pre-shave gel. Let this sit on the area you want to trim for about 30 seconds.

  3. Apply a fragrance-free shaving cream. Using both a pre-shave gel and shaving cream makes the hairs softer and easier to cut. Let the shaving cream sit on your skin for 2 to 3 minutes before you start shaving.

  4. Shave in the direction that your hairs grow. You also want to avoid pulling your skin taut or pressing down with your razor.

  5. Rinse well with lukewarm water. You want to get the shaving gel and cream off your skin and beard. Residue can irritate your skin.

  6. Gently pat your skin dry with a clean towel; leave your skin a little damp. This helps your skin retain moisture.

  7. Apply a moisturizer formulated for your skin type. You can find out how to select the right moisturizer at, A dermatologist’s top tips for a healthy beard.

Sparse or patchy hair growth

Your genes determine whether you develop thin, sparse areas in your beard. While there’s nothing you can do about the genes you inherit, these grooming tips from dermatologists can help your beard look fuller:

  • Choose a beard style that allows you to trim (or get rid of) those areas with sparse growth: With so many styles, you’re bound to find one that matches how your hair grows.

  • Let your beard grow and fill in patchy areas with longer hairs from nearby: Once your beard has grown out, use beard wax to style your beard and hold the hairs in place.

  • Talk with a dermatologist before trying minoxidil: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved this active ingredient to treat hereditary hair loss on the scalp. When people use minoxidil to help them grow hair on their face, a common side effect is raw, irritated skin. A dermatologist can offer you treatment options for growing facial hair.

When to see a dermatologist

It can be difficult to tell what’s happening to the skin beneath your beard. What looks like acne could be ingrown hairs or something else entirely . If you continue to have a skin problem or experience hair loss, see a board-certified dermatologist. This doctor can help discover what is causing your skin problem and prescribe treatment if necessary.

A board-certified dermatologist has the expertise needed to tell you what’s happening and what can help.

Find a dermatologist

Skin cancer can develop beneath the beard

If you notice a lump that is growing, bleeding, or changing in any way, immediately make an appointment to see a board-certified dermatologist.

Bearded man checking his skin.

Related AAD resources


Images
Getty Images

Reference
Suchonwanit P, Thammarucha S, et al. “Minoxidil and its use in hair disorders: a review.” Drug Des Devel Ther. 2019 Aug 9;13:2777-86.


Written by:
Paula Ludmann, MS

Reviewed by:
Erin Ducharme, MD, FAAD
Lucinda Buescher, MD, FAAD
Amanda Friedrichs, MD, FAAD

Last updated: 11/9/20

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