What are Folliculitis?
Folliculitis is an inflammation of the hair follicles caused by infection (coagulase-positive staphylococci) or physical or chemical irritation. The most common form of superficial folliculitis is idiopathic. More serious forms of folliculitis involve the deep portion of the hair follicle and, usually, are more symptomatic and may cause scarring.
Folliculitis usually appears as small, white-headed pimples around one or more hair follicles — the tiny pockets from which each hair grows. Most infections are superficial, and although they may itch, they’re seldom painful. Superficial folliculitis often clears by itself in a few days, but deep or recurring folliculitis may need medical treatment.
Alternative names of Folliculitis : Pseudofolliculitis barbae, Tinea barbae, Barber’s itch
Causes of Folliculitis
Folliculitis starts when hair follicles are damaged by friction from clothing, blockage of the follicle, or shaving. Other ways hair follicles can be damaged are:
- Staphylococcus aureus are the most common bacteria that cause folliculitis. It is not known why these bacteria infect the hair follicles.
- Contact with oils, tar and grease can make one more susceptible to folliculitis.
- Tight or occlusive clothing such as polyester can contribute to the development of folliculitis.
- Heat and sweating are also factors that can contribute to folliculitis.
- Some people are born with a tendency to development folliculitis. If you are one of these people you may have to continue treatment to prevent recurrences.
Symptoms of Folliculitis
The most common symptoms are:
- Reddened skin area
- Pimples or pustules located around a hair follicle
- Itchy skin
Types of Folliculitis
There are a different types of folliculitis:
- Barber’s itch
- Tinea barbae
- Pseudo folliculitis barbae
Treatment of Folliculitis
Treatment of most superficial infections may not require the use of antibiotics. Cleaning the infected area thoroughly with soap and water, or with a disinfectant preparation containing chlorhexidine or povidone iodine, is usually effective.
Applying moist heat compresses to the local area helps promote vasodilation (dilation of the blood vessels) and drainage from the lesions.
- Minimize friction from clothing.
- Avoid shaving the area if possible. If shaving is necessary, use a clean new razor blade or an electric razor each time.
- Keep the area clean.
- You will need to take antifungal pills, such as fluconazole (Diflucan), griseofulvin (Fulvicin-U/F or Gris-PEG, for example), itraconazole (Sporanox), or terbinafine (Lamisil).
- Your doctor may give you a corticosteroid to reduce inflammation.
Prevention tips for Folliculitis
- Wear loose-fitting clothing. Tighter clothes trap sweat and bacteria on your body.
- Avoid using oils on your skin. Oils can trap bacteria in the pores of your skin and can cause folliculitis.
- If you have folliculitis, avoid shaving the infected area. If you must shave, change the razor blade each time. Try using depilatory creams and lotions, which remove hair without shaving. These products are not recommended for use more often than once or twice a week.
- Bathe or shower daily with a mild antibacterial soap. Also, bathe or shower after you exercise and after you work around chemicals.
- Avoid sharing towels, washcloths, or other personal items. If you have folliculitis, use a clean washcloth and towel each time you bathe.
Wash your hands and under your fingernails often, especially when you or someone you are caring for has a skin infection.