Shaving

Hair is confusing. When it's on top of the head it's fine, but when it's on other body parts, sometimes people shave it off. Young kids don't usually do this, but older girls might shave their underarms and their legs. And older boys might shave the hair on their faces.

Just to make it even more confusing, some men don't shave at all — they grow beards and mustaches. Some women also choose not to shave. And some male and female athletes, such as swimmers, shave their entire bodies so they glide better in the water!

You probably want to know when boys and girls need to start shaving. But that's a tough one because it depends on whether you have any hair to shave, whether you see this hair as a problem, and whether your mom or dad thinks it's OK for you to start shaving.

Here's how shaving works: A razor is a sharp blade that cuts the hair off close to the skin. Shaving removes the tip of the hair shaft that pokes out of the skin, but the hair grows back. Your skin might stay smooth for as little as a day or as long as 3 days.

Good stuff about shaving: Shaving is a low-cost way to remove hair. You can do it at home. All you need is a razor, some warm water, and some soap, shaving foam, or gel. Or you can use an electric razor, which is easier to use and less likely to cut your skin than a regular razor.

Not-so-good stuff about shaving: Razors are sharp, so you can cut yourself, especially when you're just learning how to do it. You also can get irritated skin or other problems, such as razor burn, bumps, nicks, cuts, skin infections, or painful ingrown hairs. Ingrown hairs happen when a hair starts growing into the surrounding tissue, instead of up and out of the skin. Also, shaving doesn't last long and when the hair grows back, it may feel stubbly.

If you want to start shaving, talk with your mom or dad about it. Let them know why it's important to you. Before you start, you might want to investigate other ways of removing hair as well so that you can decide which method is best for you.

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: July 2010

Kids Health

Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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