You have a great beard, but you also deal with annoying itchiness from time to time, or maybe even all the time. Almost every man will have to deal with the dreaded itch as some point in the beard-life. It does not have to be the end of the world.
In this article, we will cover the many causes of beard itch, and how to treat them. We will also give you some great tips that will help to prevent beard itch in the future. Whether you are new to the beard-life or have donned a beard for years knowing how to combat beard itch is valuable information to know and share with other beard lovers.
- What Causes Beard Itch
- How to Treat Beard Itch
- How to Prevent Recurring Beard Itch
What Causes Beard Itch
Everyone is unique and that leads to a wide variety of causes of beard itchiness. Most causes of beard itch can be treated the same way with only a couple of exceptions. Knowing what is causing your beard to itch can help you treat the itch and prevent future beard itch as well.
As your beard grows you will likely experience some itch from time to time, especially if you are growing a beard for the first time. This type of itch is very common and usually goes away rather quickly. If the itch continues past the initial growth stages, then you may want to look at other potential causes of your itching.
We hate to have to go here, but the truth is that many men do not keep their beards as clean as they should. A build-up of dirt and oil can cause itchiness as well as many other skin issues. Even if you choose not to bath or shower every day, you should thoroughly clean your beard at least once a day. This becomes especially important in hotter weather, or when hard work causes regular perspiration.
Some people are unfortunately plagued with excessively dry skin. Growing a beard can cause the skin beneath to become even drier than without as the beard absorbs the skins natural oils. Individuals that deal with dry skin will probably experience itchiness in places other than their beard, but not necessarily. This is perhaps the most common cause of itchy beards.
An unfortunate side effect of any hair growth is the potential for ingrown hairs. Ingrown hairs are most common in the early stages of beard growth, though can occur at any point if a hair is removed and a new hair starts to grow in its place. An ingrown hair is a hair that gets trapped just below the surface of the skin. The hair continues to grow at the normal rate causing a small bump to form that contains the coiled hair and possibly some excess oil or even bacteria.
Ingrown hairs can easily become infected if not treated. There are a number of ways to prevent and treat ingrown hairs and we’ll cover them in just a little bit.
Don’t we all wish acne was only an issue in our teens? Unfortunately, acne can occur at all stages of life. Some individuals are just more prone to acne than others, and if you are one of those people, then you probably know what is causing your itchy beard. Acne is often the result of blocked pores or hair follicles that become inflamed and possibly infected if the blockage is the result of bacteria.
Using the Wrong Soap
Some soaps contain detergents that can be extremely irritating to the skin. Hand soaps, for example, are too harsh to be used on the more sensitive skin of the face. While using any type of soap is better than not washing your beard at all, making sure that the soap you use is gentle enough to be used on your face is the best bet.
Dandruff (or beardruff) is the unfortunate reality for many individuals. Dandruff is caused by an overabundance of a microbe called Malassezia globose, which is actually found on most people’s skin. This microbe is a fungus that if allowed to grow in excess breaks down the skins natural oil, sebum. This causes the skin to dry out and flake off.
Dandruff can also be the result of rapid cell growth. The cells in certain areas of the skin replicate faster than others causing the dying cells to dry quickly and flake.
There are several medical and skin conditions that may cause the skin beneath your beard to itch. The most common that specifically contribute to beard it includes:
Eczema is a dermatological condition that causes the skin to become excessively dry and inflamed. As we mentioned before, dry skin is the most common cause of beard itch. The cause of the dry skin may be from eczema.
Rosacea is the result of inflammation of the skin and pores. One cause of inflammation can be folliculitis, which refers to inflammation of the hair follicles, possibly a result of ingrown hairs. Rosacea is unique in that it is usually accompanied by extreme redness and heat, as well as itching. Rosacea also tends to be present in other areas of the face as well.
Psoriasis includes several skin conditions that result in over replication of skin cells, leading to drying and flaking of the skin. Where psoriasis is unique is that it has been linked to stress levels. Individuals may have more than one type of psoriasis and they can occur in many areas of the body.
Someone that is fighting beard itch caused by psoriasis may also deal with similar symptoms on their head and even eyebrows.
Perhaps the sole cause of itchy beard that we have very little control of is the weather. Excessively cold weather can dry out your beard and skin quickly causing it to itch. The risk of exposure from severe cold is increased due to the extra insulation that your beard may provide. You may not realize your skin is as cold as it is until the itching starts.
How to Treat Beard Itch
Now that we have covered many of the most common causes of beard itch, we are going to go over several ways to deal with beard itch. Many of these treatment methods can be used successfully for most causes of itchiness. In the rare cases of severe infection or skin disorders, it may be necessary to consult your doctor or a dermatologist for proper treatment.
It should come as no surprise that the first way to treat an itchy beard is to implement proper beard washing into your grooming routine. What we mean by proper washing, is that in addition to washing your beard thoroughly daily, you must use products design to be used on your faces delicate skin.
A quality beard shampoo or beard soap is specifically designed to thoroughly clean your beard and the skin beneath without completely stripping away the essential natural oils. These oils not only prevent your skin from becoming dry but also protect your beard.
In addition to using the right beard shampoo or soap, to combat excessive dryness you should use conditioners on your beard and possibly even moisturizers for the skin as well. Many products are available to help condition your beard and skin.
There are conditioners meant to go hand and hand with beard shampoos. Like traditional head hair shampoos and conditioners, these sets are formulated to work well together. You may also choose to use conditioners in the form of beard balms or beard oils. Both of these types of products can provide an amazing level of conditioning, including moisturization to the beard and skin.
In addition to proper washing and conditioning of your beard, you may want to include gentle exfoliation no more than once or twice a week to your grooming routine. Gentle exfoliation can be done using specially designed sponges, but a quality beard brush works really well.
Exfoliating can be as simple as spending some extra time brushing through your beard while you have a quality beard cleanser on the beard. Exfoliating helps to remove dead or dying skin cells and excess product, dirt, or oils that may cause skin irritation, overproduction of sebum, or even infection.
Over-exfoliating your skin can cause other issues, so you should limit these treatments to once or twice a week for the best results. Additionally, continuing to exfoliate regularly after you have stopped the itch will prevent the itch from returning and help promote healthier skin and beard.
Men who have struggled with beard dandruff for some time and nothing else has helped or completely eliminated the issue may decide to use specifically designed products available at their local drug store or from their doctor.
OTC (Over-the-counter) or off the shelf products
There are probably a ton of products available at the local drug store or online that could be used to treat the itch, but here are the most common.
Individuals that know that the itch is caused by fungal based dandruff may opt to use antifungal creams to treat their beard itch. These products are not specifically designed to treat beard dandruff and may potentially damage your beard, so use them with caution.
These creams are gentler than antifungal creams and will also not cause the skin or beard to dry out if used sparingly. A big advantage to hydrocortisone creams is that they stop the itch almost immediately with only the smallest amount of cream. Using a cotton swab, apply the cream as close the skin as possible and gently rub into the skin. The long term effect of this cream on the actual beard hair is unknown though, so we suggest keeping it off the beard hair as much as possible.
In some cases, prescription strength products or antibiotics may be necessary to treat the underlying cause of beard itch. Prescriptions will vary depending on your doctor and presenting symptoms and may have side effects, so use with caution. Make sure to discuss all options with your doctor before using these potentially harmful products.
Most people are not aware that you can get a prescription for a strong antifungal cream, particularly for beard dandruff. These antifungal creams are designed to target the overactive microbes that cause fungal dandruff.
In most cases, doctors will recommend continuing to use the cream for a length of time after the symptoms have subsided in addition to making improvement is grooming practices to help prevent a recurrence.
Infections that have become severe or that are unresponsive to other remedies may require the use of prescription antibiotics. There are several antibiotics that can be given, and the type chosen may vary based on the suspected cause of infection. Discussing the options with a physician or dermatologist is the best bet for making an informed decision regarding appropriate antibiotics.
How to Prevent Recurring Beard Itch
Now that we have covered both the causes and treatment of beard itch, there are ways that you can help prevent the itch from returning. There is no guarantee that you will never have an itch, but by following a few basic guidelines you can help to reduce the potential for a serious case of itch or quickly control it if it does recur.
The single best defense against beard itch is to find the perfect grooming routine that not only takes great care of your skin and beard, but you will actually follow. There are a thousand different products that you can get to decrease or prevent beard itch, but they will not work if they end up dumped in a drawer and forgotten.
Follow these steps to establish a routine that fits your needs, time, and commitment.
The first step in any beard grooming routine is to properly and thoroughly clean your beard and the skin beneath. You have several options for cleansers, here are the most common:
Conditioning your beard with help to keep your skin and beard from becoming dry, which again is the most common cause of beard itch. Conditioners not only help to moisturize and soften the skin and beard but can provide essential nutrients that can improve beard health and soothe raw itchy skin. Conditioners can be used alone or in combination for a bigger conditioning punch.
While conditioners are focused on the beard hair, with some benefits to the skin, moisturizers are designed to hydrate and moisturize the skin. We suggest finding a light moisturizer that is gentle and will not clog the pores. While a separate moisturizer is not necessary if you use quality conditioners, it may be necessary for individuals that fight dry skin on non-bearded areas of their face and neck.
You may be surprised to know that that brushing your beard can go a long way towards preventing beard itch. Brushing your beard regularly with a quality natural fiber beard brush helps to gently exfoliate the skin, distribute the natural oils throughout the length of the beard as well as absorb any excess oil that may be lurking around.
Even shorter beards can benefit from being brushed at least once a day. You will quickly find that a brushed beard is softer, more manageable, and has a subtle natural shine. A brushed beard is a polished beard, no matter what beard style you have.
Natural and Organic Ingredients
When searching for products to use on your beard, selecting products that contain only the best quality natural and organic ingredients will help your beard and skin to be healthier, stronger, leading to less itch.
Products made with only natural and organic ingredients will also be less likely to contain ingredients that may cause irritation to the skin. Individuals with specific allergies should carefully check ingredients to make sure they contain nothing they are allergic to, including alternative forms of ingredients. For example, individuals who have nut allergies should avoid beard products that contain oils derived from nuts, such as almond oil.
Avoid Skin Irritants
There are ingredients used in some grooming products that are known skin irritants and should be avoided if possible. If you are unable to find the product you desire in a natural and organic formulation, you should at minimum avoid the following ingredients in any product that will come into contact with your beard and skin:
Sulfates – As mentioned above, sulfates are commonly added to shampoos and other grooming products to help them produce a better lather but can be especially drying to your beard and skin. Sulfates can be disguised by many names, but the most common are sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate.
Polyethylene Glycol –Not only will this ingredient cause your beard and skin to become excessively dry, but polyethylene glycol can actually speed up fallout, causing your beard to shed excessively. This is definitely one to avoid.
Mineral Oil – This is not the type of oil that you want to add to your beard. Mineral oil can actually over saturate the beard and follicles weighing down the beard and actually reduce or halt beard growth.
Chlorine – If you have ever felt the dryness of your skin after taking a dip in a chlorinated pool then you should not be surprised to find a warning against using this ingredient. Chlorine is often found in lower quality mass produced beard balms and conditioners. Using these products will be a constant battle to provide enough conditioning to your beard to stave off the itch. Make it easy on yourself and just avoid it altogether.
Isopropyl Alcohol – This very common astringent cleanser is added to some beard products to provide an extra level of cleansing. The problem is, however, that alcohol not only cleans away the bad stuff, but it also strips away the good stuff too, leaving behind a dry, brittle, not-so-touchable beard. Avoiding cleansers that contain isopropyl alcohol will help you hang on to your beard’s natural oils more easily.
We have provided a ton of information in this article on the causes, treatments, and preventing the dreaded beard itch. We sincerely hope that you have found the answers that you need to deal with beard itch now or in the future. Be sure to bookmark this page and return if you even need a refresher.
Here’s to a beard with no-itch in your future!!
- What Causes Beard Itch
- How to Treat Beard Itch
- How to Prevent Recurring Beard Itch