What is Beard Burn?

Is your partner dealing with a bit of “stache rash”? This form of contact dermatitis is more common than you might think, and it’s usually nothing to worry about.

Here’s everything you need to know about beard burn, including how to treat it.

How Does Beard Burn Happen?

Beard burn is a form of contact dermatitis that is caused by friction. For example, when your partner’s skin comes into contact with your facial hair, it can cause the hair to rub on the skin like sandpaper. This can lead to irritation, redness, and even pain.

Beard burn is most commonly caused by a short and spiky mustache or facial hair typically less than two weeks in length. This type of hair is more likely to catch on the skin and cause friction. If your partner has a longer and softer beard, they are less likely to experience this problem.

Other Possible Causes of Beard Burn

Aside from friction, beard burn could be misdiagnosed, and the redness or irritation was caused by the following: 

  • Allergic Reaction: This could result from an ingredient in a beard product (such as a shampoo, conditioner, oil, or balm) that your partner is allergic to. If you notice that their skin becomes irritated every time they use a particular product, it’s best to stop using it.
  • Staph Infection: Beard burn could be mistaken for a staph infection, which is a bacterial infection that can cause redness, swelling, and pain. If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor.

What Does Beard Burn Look Like?

woman with redness on neck

Beard burn typically looks like a red and irritated patch of skin.

How Long Does Beard Burn Last?

Depending on the severity of the burn, it can last anywhere from a few minutes to several hours. In most cases, the irritation will go away and doesn’t require any treatment. However, if the pain is severe or lasts longer than a few hours, you may want to see a doctor.

How Do I Treat Beard Burn?

Most mild forms of beard burn can be treated at home with over-the-counter medications. For example, you can use a corticosteroid cream to reduce inflammation. However, if the pain is severe, you may also want to take an over-the-counter pain reliever.

Most folks will find that aloe vera gel, body lotion, and other moisturizing creams can also help to soothe the skin and reduce irritation.

Where Can Beard Burn Occur?

Beard burn can occur anywhere on the body that comes into contact with facial hair. Common places are the face, neck, chest, and even genitals.

How Can I Prevent Beard Burn?

There are a few things you can do to prevent beard burn:

  • Facial Hair Length: Go with a length that is less likely to cause friction. For example, a full beard or ducktail beard is less likely to catch on the skin than a goatee or stubble.
  • Condition Regularly: Dryness can make facial hair feel spiky and sharp. Use a good beard conditioner such as a beard oil or beard balm to keep the hair soft and hydrated.
  • Wash Daily: A build-up of oils and dirt on the facial hair can irritate the skin. Be sure to wash your beard regularly with a mild beard shampoo.
  • Kiss Carefully: When kissing someone with a beard, go slow and avoid any sudden movements. Additionally, a short peck on the cheek is less likely to irritate a long make-out session.
  • Be Mindful of Sensitive Areas: If your partner has sensitive skin, be careful where you are kissing.
  • Stubble Softener Pads: These small pads can be used to help smooth the tips of facial hair and make them softer to the touch. The most notable brand is The Soft Goat.

Be Careful of Babies

Newborns and little kids have delicate skin, so it’s essential to be careful when kissing them with a beard. If it’s your little one, we recommend an alternative facial hair style or shaving altogether so you can always be nice and smooth when it’s time to smooch those little cheeks.

How Do Other Guys (and Gals) Deal With Beard Burn?

To see what other men and women do to avoid or deal with beard burn, check out these helpful forum threads to get some different perspectives:

Common Questions

Does shaving prevent beard burn?

For the most part, yes, but it’s not a guarantee. If your partner has sensitive skin, they may still experience some irritation even if you are freshly shaved. We recommend applying a hydrating aftershave balm to help soothe the skin.

Is beard burn contagious?

No, beard burn is not contagious.

Do products exist to help reduce beard burn?

Some brands, such as Cremo, do sell beard and scruff softeners that can help to reduce the risk of beard burn. These products work by hydrating the facial hair and making it softer to the touch.

Adam Williams

As the lead editor of Tools of Men, Adam loves men's grooming products. Particularly of interest is managing facial hair and perfecting the art of the modern man's skincare routine. His work has been featured or quoted in several publications, including New York Magazine, Vice, Sharpologist, MIC, Elite Daily, and more. When Adam isn't working, he enjoys spending time with his two little kids who keep him both on his toes and young at heart.

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