A Close Shave
by Dr John Winsor - The Sunday Times of Malta


The human skin can suffer from a number of diseases, although the face is relatively immune. Constant exposure to air and sun protect the face from a lot if infections that are due to organisms who love dark and damp areas, such as between the toes. But for men, any diseases on the face can affect shaving.

The one face rash which is very common is acne. The complaint is far more common among youths than any other age group, especially young men. Unless a male patient has a desire to grow a beard, I advise him to continue shaving but rather sketchily, skating around the worst spots. He should use a good, unscented soap, or a medicated one.

Eczema of the face is much less common than acne. Again, keep on shaving, but avoid the worst areas as far as possible. Fortunately, eczema rarely lasts for anything like as long as acne.

Impetigo, another skin infection, seems to prefer the face to any other part of the body surface. Germs affect isolated areas of the face but do not spread out wards from the main areas. Sufferers should seek medical advice since it is very often rapidly cleared up by the appropriate antibiotic drug.

Since the majority of men do not have the time to go to the barber, and therefore do their own shaving, barber’s rash is now a rarity. Even among the few who do attend hairdressing salons, the latter are now almost invariably carefully maintained and have a high standard of hygiene.

Whatever the skin condition from which the face may suffer, the patient must always keep to its own towel. Also, the razor must be thoroughly cleaned after every shave, (though actual scalding is said to blunt the edge). Very occasionally a patient who uses an electric razor gets an allergic rash due to the chrome or nickel in the razor. But it is possible to identify the metal responsible and take precautions.

Finally, use pleasantly warm water for shaving when you have any skin trouble on the face, and don’t follow the shaving by after-shaving lotion until the rash is better. There are plenty of shaving products for men that are available, such as skin soothers or moisturisers, so, if you are not suffering from any infections, there is no reason why you cannot have a close shave and maintain healthy skin.