A foot resting on the edge of a bathtub with the shin and calf covered in foaming soap. A hand holding a razor which has a hand wrapped in a wash cloth comes in from the left.

RA and Shaving

I took many things for granted before my rheumatoid arthritis and one of them is shaving. Before my diagnosis, it was one of those mundane routines I moaned and groaned over.

I thought it was so time-consuming but, little did I know, it was actually a very quick process. I didn’t have to think twice about the razor or gel I used. I didn’t have to consider pain or fatigue levels. I just stood in the shower and did what I needed to do.

Shaving can be painful

Now, I still grumble and whinge about shaving, but for entirely different reasons. Often, I don’t even bother with it. How the eff am I going to wield a razor and contort my body like a circus performer when I can’t even sit or walk normally, let alone stand for any long period of time?

There was a bigger issue at hand. I experienced red bumps, razor burns, and an all-over stinging experience. Aside from the typical RA concerns, shaving became really painful! This skin sensitivity was new to me. I always had oily skin (arguably the strongest skin type), so I never had any concerns about products or ingredients. Suddenly, I had to be careful about what I put on my body.

Tips on shaving with rheumatoid arthritis

During the summer, I liked to show some skin and my preference was for smooth, hairless features. What was a young, “thirsty” girl to do? (Look at me trying to be all hip and with it). I had to shave and do something differently. I didn’t switch to waxing or using those crazy hair removing creams. I figured if my skin was so affected by a razor, then these other methods would set me on fire. I just made a couple of changes and noticed a huge difference.

1. Find a good razor

I used the same style for well over a year but I developed horrible stinging, micro-cuts and just a bad shave. I needed a new razor. On a whim, I tried a male-marketed one and WOW! Game-changer!

Men’s razors are already made for sensitive skin. The skin on the face is more delicate than that on the body so men’s blades are gentler. The razor I now use is even more geared towards sensitive skin with a safety mechanism preventing scratches and magical lubrication around the blades. Since switching to a different razor, most of my skin problems have diminished.

2. Open up

Most razor handles are slim, which means gripping them can be an issue for flared hands. I use a wash towel or wrap socks to widen the grip.

3. Choose a shave gel wisely

Razors can catch easily on skin so choosing lubrication is key to an easy, stress-free shave. I used to go for a moisturizing cream but I now prefer a good foaming gel which reduces nicks and burns.

4. Make showering easier

I can’t stand for the full length of a shower, so tacking on extra time for shaving is usually a no-go. Thankfully, my shower is fitted with a little ledge that I can sit on but a small stool or chair are good options. I also use a tote box for my feet so I’m not bending over my legs.

5. Take your time

Someone once advised (about adjusting dogs to nail trims) there is no reason to cut every nail in one sitting. The same goes for shaving. I split up the task over a couple of showers.

When I’m in a flare or just conserving energy, I forgo shaving. It is a physical luxury my RA cannot always afford, but these tips make it possible for me to do it more.

Do you shave or is it something you’ve stopped doing? Do you have any tips for making it easier? Let me know in the comments!

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