Folliculitis is inflammation of the follicles which can be secondarily infected by bacteria, fungi or yeast.
Causes of Folliculitis
Folliculitis occurs when the tiny pouch at the base of a hair follicle becomes inflamed and/or infected. The inflammation is often the result of irritation from shaving, wearing clothes that rub the skin or other skin conditions such as dermatitis, eczema or acne.
Folliculitis can also occur from ingrown hairs or when follicles become blocked with sweat, makeup or other substances. Hot tub folliculitis develops 2-3 days after hot tub, swimming pool or spa use and is caused by contaminated water.
Those with chronic conditions such as diabetes and weakened immune systems are at higher risk of getting folliculitis.
Symptoms of Folliculitis
Folliculitis looks like irritated red pimples surrounding a hair. The pus-filled pimples are often itchy and may open to drain pus or blood. The pimples are tender and can become swollen or crusty.
Superficial folliculitis is usually mild, while deep folliculitis involving the entire hair follicle may result in scarring or permanent hair loss.
Diagnosis of folliculitis is often determined by clinical evaluation by your dermatologist. Your physician may drain or swab a lesion to obtain a specimen for culture to help determine if there is an infection, and the type of infection.
Treatment of Folliculitis
Some mild cases of folliculitis resolve on their own in one to two weeks without treatment, while other cases require medical attention and should be evaluated at a dermatology clinic.
Treatment options for folliculitis include:
- Oral antibiotics
- Antifungal pills, creams or shampoos
- Medicated lotions, gels or ointments
- Antibacterial washes
- Oral corticosteroids for inflammation
- Laser hair removal
- Surgical incision to drain large boils
To reduce the risk of folliculitis avoid wearing tight fitting clothing, wash your skin daily, use an electric razor with a sharp blade when shaving, apply moisturizer after shaving and avoid unclean or unchlorinated hot tubs and pools.
If you have concerns about folliculitis, contact our office to set up an appointment with one of our board-certified dermatologists.