How to Prevent Itchy Beard Syndrome

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Beard itch. A gentleman wouldn’t wish it upon his enemies.

Itchy Beard
Itchy Beard

You and I have both seen the type. A fellow bearded man walks by, and you send a nod of approval his way. Then, just as he is about to respond in kind, his hand makes a quick u-turn back to his jaw to scratch deep in the tangles of his beard. Yeesh, you think to yourself, I don’t know if he needs to wash or see a doctor, but dude’s got an issue that needs attending.

Itchy beard syndrome has been an effective deterrent to men attempting to grow their beards. But there is hope, friends, to eradicate the nastiness of itch and flake and burn. Before I tell you how to prevent itchy beard syndrome, let me first explain how it happens.

What Makes It Itch So?

There are a great number of causes for beard itch, from the benign to more serious problems deserving a doctor’s care. That more serious end of the spectrum is out in the boonies; hardly anybody has a greater issue to deal with than normal beard itch. Redness, itchiness, and light flaking are all normal symptoms of itchy beard syndrome. Of these things, we need not be afraid. You may want to see a doctor for excessive bumps, blisters, pustules, or other skin conditions. Again, those types of things are rarer than rare, so don’t worry about infection when growing your beard out. 

Don’t believe me? Maybe trust this fine gentleman instead.

Dry skin is a usual suspect in the case of itchy beard syndrome. Flaking skin cells get caught up in the hair of your beard, clogging pores and follicles. The same goes for debris, like particles of lunch and last night’s refrigerator raid. Ingrown hairs could be hiding out among the well-behaved dudes on your face as well. Best to weed them out and take care of them pronto. 

But the most common of all causes for itchy beard syndrome begins when the hair has started to break through the skin. A razor’s edge shaves beard hair at an angle, and this angle leaves a pointed edge on the end of the hair. As the hairs grow out, they can irritate the skin and grow itchy. As the beard grows out, these points draw away from the surface of the skin. The truth is, though, that it takes time for the hairs to grow to that point of No Longer Itchy. Between 4 and 6 weeks seems to be the beginning of the end of itchy beard growth.

What’s To Be Done?

So, now we get down to the business of defeating the itch. It’s not actually as hopeless or hard to deal with as you might expect. Treatment for itchy beard syndrome is pretty straight up and un-fussy. For personal care at home, having a good wash and groom routine is key. Knowing how to select quality products is going to help you significantly too. And there are other options if you find you’ve got a truly obstinate case of itch. Let me walk you through the different methods in more detail.

Personal Care and Washing

It all begins with how you wash your beard. It’s a good idea to begin exfoliating the skin beneath the beard. This can be done with assistance from a good beard wash. Some beard enthusiasts agree that regular hair shampoo is not suitable for caring for a man’s beard, but the debate rages on. If you think you want to go beard-specific with your products, a beard wash, or even baby shampoo, is made with a gentler formula than your typical hair shampoo. 

Remember what I said about dryness being a major factor of beard itch? As you wash, you’re going to want to keep your beard clean without stripping your beard hair of its natural sebum oils. These oils are important for your hair’s growth and resilience against harmful debris that get caught. The frequency of how often you will have to wash depends on how dirty your lifestyle. When I say “dirty,” I don’t mean anything exciting. I mean working outside in the mud or the shop or dealing with an illness such as a cold where you’re blowing snot particles into your beard all day. These things are all reasons to wash your beard. Eric Bandholz has a bit more to say about beard washing frequency.

If you really want to extinguish the itch, beard conditioning will help smooth the rough edges of your beard hairs, and that will drastically reduce the chances of severe beard itch syndrome. You can find a beard conditioner where you’ll find most other beard products. Online retailers seem to be the most comprehensive source for beard products.

Grooming and Extra Care

Aside from keeping a clean environment for your beard as it grows, a proper grooming technique is vital. You want to invest in a beard oil or balm. This oil is your supplemental defense against dryness and flaking, and it will also help shield your beard from debris. A little goes a long, long way with oils and balms. 3-8 drops of oil or just a smidge of balm should be enough. Your investment will last a good while and the effects are certainly worth it. If you do choose to pick up a beard oil or balm in addition to conditioner, be sure to avoid over-oiling. We want softness, suppleness, and shine for your beard–not grease and grime-catching sludge.

High-quality beard oils typically have essential oils on their ingredients list. There are many, many, many different essential oils out there, my friend. Each of these different oils will have one or multiple benefits, such as pain relief and astringent. If you want to look for a beard oil with properties specific to anti-itch, you might take a look at what essential oils can accomplish that goal. Peppermint will have a cooling effect, and I hear that sweet almond oil is a natural anti-inflammatory, making it an attractive option for anti-itch too.) Once you find what you’re looking for in your beard oil, you’ll be a more informed shopper and can choose the oil that is right for your beard.

It’s a good practice to comb your beard once a day at least, depending on the thickness and unruliness of your beard. Much more brushing or combing can be too harsh, pulling out more hair than is good for the fullness of your beard. I recommend a boar’s hair brush built for beards specifically; they last forever and a day if taken care of properly, and the bristles reach hairs at every stage of growth. 

If a comb is more your thing, that’s cool, too. You’ll need a comb for beards. Regular combs tend to have rough edges that can pull and tear at the hair of your beard. Any which way you do it, you can’t beat the benefits of a good grooming. 

At the End of the Day…

…The real “secret” to controlling and withstanding beard itch is simple moisturizing and conditioning. Wherever there be hairs a-growin’, there be skin a-itchin’. Beard itch syndrome is a normal part of growing a beard, but it doesn’t have to last forever. With help from products such as beard oils, balms, and conditioners, you won’t have to bow to the itchiness anymore. And if you do have a persistent problem or a skin condition, consult a dermatologist. they will have even more helpful tips to help you overcome the itchy beard syndrome.

How do you feel about conquering the syndrome of itchy beard, now? I want you to be equipped to cultivate all the supple glory you can coax from your beard. Let us know if we answered all your questions about beard itch, or if there’s more you want to know. Drop a comment in the box below, and tell your friends where to find the best information on all things beard.

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Mr. Wood has been growing a beard since he could first sprout facial hair. He lives with his wife, two boys and a mentally unstable dog. He loves to be outdoors and thinks that the best stories start with "Here, hold my beer..."