Online Dermatologist > What’s Under That Beard? 8 Beard-Related Skin Conditions

What’s Under That Beard? 8 Beard-Related Skin Conditions

by | Dec 12, 2023 | Blog, Hair, Men's Health

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As individuals grow out their facial hair, they may encounter various challenges, including itchy beard, rash, and other skin conditions. Understanding skin conditions related to beards is crucial for maintaining good beard hygiene and overall health. Specific skin conditions related to beards, such as such as skin cancer, psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, tinea barbae, tinea faciei, folliculitis, pseudofolliculitis barbae, contact dermatitis, and rosacea can affect the beard area, leading to various symptoms and complications.


1. Skin Cancer: Hidden Risks Under Beards


Understanding the Risk

Hidden Dangers: Beards can conceal skin cancers like basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma, especially in those with light skin and red hair. This group is more susceptible to UV-induced diseases, including skin cancer, due to lower levels of eumelanin for UV protection.[1]

Challenges in Detection: Skin cancer under beards can go unnoticed until they start causing issues. It’s vital to be vigilant about any lumps, sores that don’t heal, bleeding, or changes in moles or dark spots within your beard area.

Scalp Awareness: Skin cancer can also develop on the scalp, hidden under hair or in bald spots.


Regular Inspection and Professional Consultation

  • Self-Check: Regularly inspect your beard and scalp for any unusual changes.
  • Seek Expert Advice: If you notice any concerning symptoms, it’s crucial to get evaluated by a board-certified dermatologist.


Post-Shave Care

  • Switching from Aftershave to SPF Moisturizer: After washing your face and shaving, use a facial moisturizer with SPF instead of aftershave. This not only helps reduce post-shaving redness, itching, and pain but also protects your skin from UV rays.[2]
  • Broad Application: Apply the SPF moisturizer liberally to your face, including the forehead, ears, and the back of your neck. Pay special attention to any bald spots.
  • Continuous Protection: Remember, facial hair doesn’t offer complete protection against the sun’s harmful UV rays. It’s important to protect thinning or bald areas on your head and to reapply sunscreen when spending extended periods outdoors.


2. Psoriasis: Managing in the Beard Area


Overview of Psoriasis:

Widespread Impact: Psoriasis, a chronic skin condition, can cause itchy, flaky, and inflamed skin, not just on the body but also in the beard area.[3]

Appearance on the Face: It often manifests as thickened, red, and dry patches, potentially covering the hairline, forehead, neck, ears, and the entire facial skin.

Sebo-Psoriasis: A specific form known as sebo-psoriasis can affect areas like the eyelids, eyebrows, nasolabial folds, and particularly the beard, with patchy involvement.


Challenges with Beard Care:

Irritation from Shaving and Products: Shaving and certain beard products can aggravate psoriasis, intensifying symptoms.[4]

Importance of Tailored Care: Effective management involves maintaining beard cleanliness, practicing gentle shaving techniques, and choosing skin-compatible products.


When to Seek Medical Help

Monitoring Symptoms: If psoriasis in the beard area worsens, becomes increasingly painful, or spreads, it’s important to consult a board-certified dermatologist.

Specialized Care: Dermatologists can offer targeted treatments and advice specific to managing psoriasis in the beard area.


3. Seborrheic Dermatitis in the Beard Area

Seborrheic dermatitis, also known as seborrheic eczema, is an inflammatory skin condition. It’s caused by Malassezia, a fungus that feeds on the sebum on your skin, leading to irritation and inflammation, particularly in areas with many sebaceous glands like the beard.[5]

It typically shows up as salmon-colored papules and plaques with a fine white or yellowish scale, often resembling greasy scale-crust.


Symptoms in the Beard Area:

  • Common Signs: Look for flaking skin, greasy patches with white or yellow scales, redness, itchiness, and inflamed skin.
  • Comparison to Dandruff: Its symptoms and response to treatments are similar to those of dandruff.


Potential Complications

Hair Follicle Damage: In rare cases, it can damage hair follicles on the scalp, leading to temporary hair loss.
Risk of Infection: Be aware of the potential for immunodeficiency in the affected skin and an increased risk of infection in severe cases.


Effective Management Strategies

  • Antifungal Shampoos: Use shampoos containing ketoconazole, which are effective against this condition.
  • Beard Hygiene: Regularly exfoliate your skin, use suitable beard shampoo, and moisturize your beard with products that don’t promote Malassezia growth, like those free from coconut oil.[6]
  • Lifestyle Considerations: A healthy lifestyle, including adequate sleep and stress management, is crucial in mitigating symptoms.


4. Tinea Barbae: Ringworm of the Beard

Tinea Barbae, commonly known as Ringworm of the Beard, is a fungal infection in the beard area caused by dermatophyte fungi, particularly Trichophyton mentagrophytes.[7]

Appearance: It manifests as red, itchy, scaly patches on the skin, and can cause hair loss in the affected area.


Symptoms and Severity

  • Common Symptoms: Look for redness, itching, discomfort, and scaly patches in the beard.
  • Severe Cases: In advanced stages, it can lead to pus-filled lesions and red, crusted bumps.


Diagnosis and Treatment

  • Distinguishing from Other Conditions: It’s important to differentiate Tinea Barbae from conditions like bacterial folliculitis for proper treatment.
  • Confirming the Diagnosis: Microscopic examination of skin scrapings and fungal cultures are used to confirm the presence of dermatophytes.
  • Treatment Options: The primary treatment includes both topical and oral antifungal medications, with oral treatments necessary for more extensive infections.[8]


5. Tinea Faciei (Fungal Infection of the Face)

Tinea Faciei is a fungal infection affecting the glabrous (hairless) skin of the face, marked by inflammation, pustules, and crusting.[9]

  • Cause: It’s caused by dermatophyte fungi, typically Trichophyton or Microsporum species, which thrive in the keratinized facial tissues.[10]
  • Risk Factors: Close contact with infected animals or contaminated surfaces increases the risk, as does having a compromised immune system.


Symptoms and Impact

  • Manifestation: The infection can present as red, ring-shaped rashes, inflamed areas (kerions), and even scarring. It can affect facial hair, leading to hair loss in areas like the cheeks, nose, and forehead.
  • Associated Conditions: In men, when the beard is affected, it’s known as tinea barbae. Tinea Faciei can also coexist with conditions like pityriasis folliculorum, causing acne-like symptoms.[11]


6. Folliculitis

Folliculitis is an inflammation of hair follicles, commonly in the beard area, often caused by Staphylococcus aureus bacterial infection.[12]

  • Symptoms: It typically presents as itchy or sore raised spots or pustules, which can bleed when cut during shaving.
  • Affected Areas: While it commonly affects the face, neck, and scalp, it can occur on any body part.


Risk Factors and Complications

  • Association with Shaving: Shaving is a common trigger, especially when using contaminated equipment.
  • Severity in Curly Hair: Those with curly hair, such as African-Americans, may experience more severe forms.
  • Advanced Complications: In some cases, it can lead to sycosis barbae, characterized by persistent sinus tracts, abscesses, deep inflammation, and potential scarring.[13]


7. Pseudofolliculitis Barbae (Razor Bumps)

Commonly known as razor bumps, this condition frequently affects individuals with curly or coarse hair, particularly after shaving the beard area.

Causes: The structure of curly hair, improper shaving techniques like using a dull blade, and dry skin contribute to the development of razor bumps.[14]


Prevention Strategies

  • Shaving Practices: Use a sharp razor and shave in the direction of hair growth. This minimizes the risk of hair re-entering the skin and forming bumps.
  • Skin Hydration: Keep your skin well-hydrated. Moisturizing regularly can prevent the skin from becoming dry and prone to irritation.
  • Regular Exfoliation: Exfoliating the skin can help to remove dead skin cells, preventing them from trapping hairs.
  • Clothing Choices: Avoid tight clothing that can irritate the shaved area.


Treatment Options

  • Topical Solutions: Apply creams containing salicylic acid or glycolic acid to exfoliate the skin and reduce bumps.[15]
  • Warm Compresses: These can soothe irritation and reduce inflammation.
  • Antibiotics: For infected bumps, topical antibiotics may be necessary.
  • Hydrocortisone Cream: To reduce inflammation, hydrocortisone cream can be applied.
  • Professional Treatments: In persistent cases, laser hair removal or chemical peels can provide more permanent solutions.


8. Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis can arise from using beard care products containing potential allergens. Fragrances, preservatives like parabens and formaldehyde-releasing agents, certain essential oils (like tea tree or peppermint oil), and artificial colorants are common irritants.[16]

Those with sensitive skin may experience redness, itching, swelling, and rashes as a reaction to these ingredients.


Preventive Measures

  • Patch Testing: Before using a new product extensively, conduct a patch test to check for any adverse reactions.
  • Choosing the Right Products: Opt for hypoallergenic beard care products specifically designed for sensitive skin.
  • Ingredient Awareness: Read labels carefully to avoid products with known irritants or allergens.


  2. Kim M, Nabil Kerrouche. Combination of benzoyl peroxide 5% gel with liquid cleanser and moisturizer SPF 30 in acne treatment results in high levels of subject satisfaction, good adherence and favorable tolerability. Journal of Dermatological Treatment. 2017;29(1):49-54. doi:
  3. Van AS, Fried RG. Depression and Quality of Life in Psoriasis. Postgraduate Medicine. 2009;121(4):154-161. doi:
  4. Anton, Liem DH. Facial psoriasis caused by contact allergy to linalool and hydroxycitronellal in an after-shave. Contact Dermatitis. 1983;9(3):230-232. doi:
  5. Tucker D, Masood S. Seborrheic Published February 16, 2023. Accessed November 30, 2023.
  6. GW; Pope C. Diagnosis and treatment of seborrheic dermatitis. American family physician. 2015;91(3). Accessed November 30, 2023.
  7. Trinath Kuruvella, Pandey S. Tinea Barbae. Published June 25, 2023. Accessed December 1, 2023.
  8. Gupta AK, Foley KA, Versteeg SG. New Antifungal Agents and New Formulations Against Dermatophytes. Mycopathologia. 2016;182(1-2):127-141. doi:
  9. Gupta AK, Cooper EA, Ryder JE, Nicol K, Chow M, Chaudhry M. Optimal Management of Fungal Infections of the Skin, Hair, and Nails. American Journal of Clinical Dermatology. 2004;5(4):225-237. doi:
  10. Genomic Linkage Analysis of Iranian Clinical Isolates of Dermatophytes Fungi Using the RAPD-PCR. Published 2021. Accessed December 1, 2023.
  11. Laer von, Laffitte E, F. Baudraz‐Rosselet, Gëzim Dushi, Hohlfeld J, Anthony. Tinea capitis: no incision nor excision. Journal of Pediatric Surgery. 2007;42(8):e33-e36. doi:
  12. Lewars M, Levin J, Purcell SM. Follicular mucinosis. Indian Dermatology Online Journal. 2013;4(4):333-333. doi:
  13. Crutchfield CE. The causes and treatment of pseudofolliculitis barbae. Cutis. 2014;61(6). Accessed December 1, 2023.
  14. Perry PK, Cook‐Bolden F, Rahman Z, Jones E, Taylor SC. Defining pseudofolliculitis barbae in 2001: A review of the literature and current trends. Journal of The American Academy of Dermatology. 2002;46(2):S113-S119. doi:
  15. Dalia Y, Khatib J, Odens H, Patel T. Review of treatments for pseudofolliculitis barbae. Clinical and Experimental Dermatology. 2023;48(6):591-598. doi:
  16. Ortiz KJ, Yiannias JA. Contact dermatitis to cosmetics, fragrances, and botanicals. Dermatologic Therapy. 2004;17(3):264-271. doi:
  17. APA PsycNet. Published 2023. Accessed December 1, 2023.
  18. Draelos. Cosmetics in Rosacea. Published 2014. Accessed December 1, 2023.

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