Navy announces updated shaving guidelines for sailors with skin condition

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WASHINGTON  (WAVY) — A new shaving guideline for Navy sailors to get medical treatment for their skin conditions are now being put into effect.

According to the Chief of Naval Personnel, the plans to release changes early next week to how commands manage individual readiness of Sailors diagnosed with the facial shaving-related condition pseudofolliculitis barbae (PFB).

Pseudofolliculitis Barbae is a treatable medical condition caused when tightly-curled beard hairs are sharpened by shaving, causing them to curve back and re-enter the skin, which can produce facial inflammation, bumps and infections.  

The new guideline is a result of a 2016 Naval Safety Center review of several studies, later re-validated in 2018, which concluded that facial hair (beards) prevents the proper seal of protective breathing devices, such as respiratory protective masks and associated equipment.

According to the Naval Safety Center, failure to have a proper seal can result in serious personal injury, including death.

“The impact [of this policy change] is an improvement in readiness of the force and improvement in safety of the Sailor,” said Director of Military

The goal of the updated guideline is to provide Sailors with medical treatments that result in successful management of the condition while still maximizing personnel readiness and safety in all Navy environments.

This means that sailors currently experiencing facial irritation after shaving will be referred to a medical provider for evaluation and possible treatment regimen aimed at returning the Sailor to Navy grooming requirements required for a proper respirator seal. 

Sailors previously issued a permanent shaving waiver must obtain a medical re-evaluation and new treatment restriction within six months of the release.

In such cases, the maximum allowable facial hair growth is 1/4 inch free of styling and edged.

The Navy plans to release changes early next week to how commands manage individual readiness of Sailors diagnosed with the facial shaving-related condition pseudofolliculitis barbae (PFB).

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