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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.

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!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The RheumatoidArthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Louise1024
    2 months ago

    Hi Monica, it is a Panasonic wet/ dry rechargeable shaver. Model no. ES 2207. I bought it at Walmart almost two years ago and it still is excellent. It can be used wet, but I only use dry. I looked online and they still have it.

  • Louise1024
    2 months ago

    I use an electric shaver. It shaves close enough. I also go out to my garage where the step is the right size to reach my legs. I open the door for light, and I try to be careful so no one sees me. (I am dressed in shorts.lol)

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator author
    2 months ago

    Hey @louise1024! Thanks for commenting on my article! May I ask, what electric shaver do you use and you don’t need water to use it?

    That’s awesome you found a good alternative to shaving in the shower. I say be proud and wave to passerbys! LOL. You’re doing what you need to do.

    All the best, Monica

  • Louise1024
    2 months ago

    Info on shaver is posted above. I put in general posting box

  • Louise1024
    2 months ago

    Hi again. Thanks for the idea about waving. I

  • Kelly Dabel moderator
    2 months ago

    Sounds like you’ve found a method that helps you Louise1024. The sunlight is so helpful in illuminating the hairs while you shave. Great tip. Thanks for sharing and being part of our community. Best, Kelly, Rheumatoidarthritis.net Team Member

  • Louise1024
    2 months ago

    Thanks Kelly. I will have to switch to windows now that it is getting colder.

  • KellyGreen77
    2 months ago

    Thanks for sharing- that is some excellent advice! I totally agree with you about men’s razors. I still try to shave almost every time I shower, but it a chore. On days when I’m particularly tired, I just take a short bath so I can sit. On bad days, it’s a quick shower, no shave. On worse days, I brush my teeth and flop myself into bed. Since I was a young teen, I had this nightly ritual of showering, shaving, masks, scrubs, lotions in which I would unwind and recharge. It one of the things I really miss being able to do when I was healthy. So on days when I feel like I can handle it, I take full advantage and give myself the spa treatment:)

  • Katbow420
    3 months ago

    I don’t worry about shaving my legs anymore. My problem is holding the tweezers to pluck all the chin hairs I now get! The difficulty holding tweezers I blame on RA but the hair growth I blame on old age approaching!

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator author
    2 months ago

    Hey @katbow420! Thanks for commenting on my article! Tweezing is so hard!! (But, you’ve given me an idea for a new article about my beauty tips and hacks?). I only tweeze my eyebrows but I often let them go because I can’t use tweezers!

    Have you ever tried a face razor (you can get them online very cheap). I use them to shave my entire face and they are much easier to wield than tweezers! If you try one please let me know what you think! ~Monica

  • Chante Collins
    3 months ago

    Very good tips, I now see why men grumble about how fast the hair on their face grows, since I’ve had RA I grumble now too lol. Due to hot flashes & anxiety attacks causing a serious sweat storm I shave every where there’s hair, besides my arms and head(sorry if TMI) I use the razors for women because they make razors for us that are kinda like men’s and some have a wider handle with rubber grip. I wanted to share a tip I read about preventing ingrown hairs, they’re easy to get & are painful, in addition to using a good shaving gel, it was recommended to use a exfoliant scrub, a facial scrub on areas after shaving and a good moisturizer. Thanks again for sharing.

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator author
    2 months ago

    Hey Chante @chanteqc! Thanks so much for sharing on my article. I don’t think it’s TMI at all. I’m sorry you have to shave even more often than you would like. Thanks for the tip. I need to try it. I was told the best way to get a close shave (I don’t know the implications for ingrowns) to shave, exfoliate, then shave again. I’ve either done that or exfoliated before shaving. I will see if there is any difference. Thanks again!!

    May I ask, why do you use a facial scrub vs. a body scrub? ~Monica

  • Casmere
    3 months ago

    Hi Monica, you always have such great advise and tips around different issues for us RA/RD people. I guess I am one of the lucky ones. Back in 2016 when I started on Methotrexate, I ended up losing hair on my under-arm’s, legs, arms and another area. So, I eventually ended up not having to shave at all. Even though I am off of Methotrexate I still do not have to shave. I can get a few odd hairs on my legs but I can pull them out easily. So, methotrexate worked for my RA/RD and my hair but in 6 months it caused a serious reaction, hence I had to go off of it. It has been 2 and a half years and still no hair excepted on my head. As I said I am one of the lucky ones. Thank you for all your experience even though you are still a youngster.

    Prays and Blessing
    Casmere

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator author
    2 months ago

    Hey Casmere!! Thank you so much for commenting on my article! You know how much I appreciate it :). Oh gosh, well, it looks like there was a good side effect to the MTX. I am sorry you had such a bad reaction to it. Were you okay??

    Just out of curiousity, you said you pulled out the stray hairs…Do you tweeze? It gives me the shivers thinking about tweezing my legs.

    I had some issues with my new insurance and the MTX so I was off it for quite a while. When I re-started it I lost a ton of the hair on my head…Too bad I didn’t lose it anywhere else. Still had to shave. Ugh! LOL.

    Thanks so much for your kind words!! ~Monica

  • lindar1207
    3 months ago

    I don’t shave as often for the past 2 years it’s a nightmare to shave. I have gone to a electric shaver. It doesn’t do a great job but it gets my legs passable LOL

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator author
    2 months ago

    Ooh! May I ask, what electric shaver do you use? I have thought about switching because it seems like it will be less stress on my wrists, fingers, etc.

    I’m okay with passable given that the alternative is just not doing it at all, LOL.

    Thanks for commenting on my article, @lindar1207! ~Monica

  • Dolores
    3 months ago

    Well thanks, you nailed it! RA and shaving is a production for me as well, crazy how RA has changed my life, routine, etc. Hopefully one day there will be allowed a better treatment. I’m not waiting for it to be approved, and already seeing improvements… hope you have a Blessed Day
    Dolores

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator author
    2 months ago

    Hey @dolores! Thanks for commenting on my article! I am glad you liked it.

    Isn’t it intense, sometimes? I can’t believe there were so many things I took for granted before that, now, I have to really consider with my RA.

    I am glad you are feeling better. I hope you continue to trend upwards! ~Monica

  • Karen in Texas
    3 months ago

    Lol. I quit shaving because the underarm skin irritation was just a mess. I also figured that it was an open portal for infection. So now, I just go au naturelle!

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator author
    3 months ago

    Hey Karen! (@opkk0x) Thanks so much for commenting on my article. The irritation really scares me because you’re right; each of those little knicks is an open invitation for bacteria.

    Interestingly enough, though, I never get irritation on my underarms which doesn’t make any sense that area is much more sensitive than the legs!

    All the best, Monica

  • betharooski
    3 months ago

    Monica- Smart gal! Men’s razors flex better to fit over their chins or our knees. You helped teach us to not give up, but try to think outside the box. Thanks!

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator author
    3 months ago

    Hey @betharooski! Thanks for commenting on my article!! You know how much I appreciate it 🙂

    I can’t believe I didn’t think about switching to men’s razors sooner. They are so so much better than woman’s razors. Aside from the skin sensitivity benefits, they just provide an all over better shave!

    Thanks again! Your comment made me smile. I hope you are doing well. ~Monica

  • Diann400
    3 months ago

    I use men’s shaver fusion. Its orange and uses battery love it . Also doesn’t cut me and for sensitive skin. The methotrexate has helped my ankles and knees but my hands are still not right have lots of nodules on right palm them burn . I lock up with trigger fingers middle and ring fingers on each hand right being my worst. I was visiting son and family up north cooler low humidity for 3 months
    Hands still bad but got worse once I came back to Fl yesterday. See Rheumatologist on 14th Oct I think the sheath on my tendons will need surgery. Discouraged .

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator author
    3 months ago

    Hey @diann400!

    Thanks for sharing on my article! Do you know what brand the fusion is? Is it the Gilette one?

    You are not alone in that other community members say humidity affects them (I am one of them!)

    I thought you might like these articles on how the humidity affects Angela. The second I wrote last year: https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/summer-in-the-humid-city/ and https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/swamp-monster/

    I hope your appointment with your Rheumatologist goes well. Please know you can always come here if you need to talk. All the best, Monica

  • Bella14
    3 months ago

    The Methotrexate has terrible side effects. So doesn’t Prednisone. I take nothing and suffer the pain. Why? Because I choose quality of life over pill after pill from side effects another pill. I do take CBD oil under tongue. Miracle.

  • Lefti
    3 months ago

    I take nothing either. Nor can I take any meds for progression due to other illnesses. I don’t like feeling like a guinea pig. I haven’t found any CBD oil yet. I may look into it.

  • Mary Sophia Hawks moderator
    3 months ago

    Monica,
    You always seem to catch my thinking!! As I am almost 6 ft. tall, shaving has always been a chore.
    I sit on the side of my tub to shave my legs. I find I shave them less often every year. The razor is a key issue. I currently use body wash, but irritation is creeping up on me, so I will switch to shave gel on your recommendation.
    Thanks!
    Mary Sophia

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator author
    3 months ago

    I remember when I used body wash instead of shaving gel! Ah, the good old days. LOL!

    I’m the same way, Mary Sophia. It seems I am not shaving my legs nearly as often as before.

    Thank you so much for your kind words. Please let me know how the gel works for you! ~Monica

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips moderator
    3 months ago

    I will pass these tips on to my wife. But i have to admit that I take a kind of sinister delight in watching the balancing act. Of course it is funny because I get to use an electric razor standing in front of the mirror.

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator author
    3 months ago

    I’ll be honest, Rick, I’ve considered using an electrical razor but it freaks me out too much! I can imagine it’s a lot easier than a traditional one?

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips moderator
    3 months ago

    Monica;

    Having used a straight razor or an electric on my face every day for the last 50 years, I can say I am worried about straight razors. I will use them, but my face is way too pretty to leave cuts. Or maybe I am just seriously uncoordinated.

    Yeah uncoordinated is much more correct.

  • Gidgxx
    3 months ago

    I use the Schick Intuition razor, it has the shaving cream built right into the razor. Makes shaving much easier for me.

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator author
    3 months ago

    I love these!! Can I ask, how long does the moisture ribbon last for you?/Do you have any tricks for making it last longer?

    It only lasts a couple of showers before I have to use an extra shave gel. It disintegrates so quickly!

    Thanks for commenting on my article, @gidgxx! ~Monica

  • Gidgxx
    2 months ago

    Lately not to much do to having thyroid issues and using methotrexate. I hardly ever shaved because of all that. Now that I’m off the methotrexate and I am taking thyroid medications. I’ll probably have to shave more often.

  • Kelly Dabel moderator
    3 months ago

    Great tip Gidgxx! There are more and more razors like this now. Such a great step-saving trick. Thanks for sharing! Best, Kelly, Rheumatoidarthritis.net Team Member

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