A common skin condition, folliculitis is caused by a bacterial or fungal infection. It presents around the hair follicles, usually as red bumps or white-headed pimples. If not treated, it can spread and those tiny bumps can become non-healing sores.
Milder cases of folliculitis are caused by bacteria (most often staph) infecting hair follicles. More specific mild types include:
- Hot tub folliculitis: caused by pseudomonas bacteria that is usually found in hot tubs and heated pools.
- Barber’s itch: caused by ingrown hairs. It is most common among males who shave and usually occurs on the face and neck. However, bikini waxing can also cause this condition.
- Pityrosporum: most common among teens and men, this is caused by a yeast infection.
More severe types of folliculitis involve the entire hair follicle and include:
- Sycosis barbae: this usually occurs in men starting to shave and increases in intensity as shaving increases.
- Gram-negative: this can be a side effect of using an anti-acne antibiotic. Sometimes the gram-negative bacterium reacts and spreads and causes folliculitis.
- Boils and carbuncles: hair follicles become deeply infected with staph bacteria and the infected follicle can become an infected boil. A cluster of such boils is called a carbuncle and is usually a more severe infection.
- Eosinophilic: usually occurs with HIV/AIDS patients.
Damaged follicles are the ones likely to become infected. Damage to follicles most commonly comes from shaving, tight clothing, rubber gloves or other rubber clothing that causes heat and sweat, simple skin injuries, as well as Band-Aids and adhesive tapes.
Folliculitis can often be treated without medical help. Using warm compresses on the area and antibiotic creams often do the trick. If your situation doesn’t improve within a few days, contact your dermatologist. You may be prescribed an antibiotic cream or pill; anti-fungal cream, pill, or shampoo; or other medication to reduce inflammation.