Folliculitis is the inflammation of one or more hair follicles. It appears as a rash or white-headed pimples or pustules near a hair follicle. Folliculitis can occur anywhere on the body, but it typically affects hairy areas, such as the neck or groin. Follicles can be damaged from repeated friction, such as rubbing from too-tight clothes, or a blockage of the hair follicle, like from shaving. In most cases, follicles become infected with the Staphylococcus bacteria, but fungi may also be to blame. Anyone can develop folliculitis, but certain lifestyle factors, like wearing tight clothing, not showering after excessive sweating, and receiving skin injuries, can increase your likelihood of needing folliculitis treatment.
Additionally, people with weakened immune systems have an increased chance of developing this condition.
Folliculitis symptoms typically manifest as small, crusty bumps on the skin. These bumps are usually red, white, or yellow, and they can appear anywhere on the body where hair grows. Folliculitis bumps are often accompanied by the following sensations:
While folliculitis can be caused by a variety of bacteria and fungi, there are two primary types of the condition. The type of folliculitis you have will inform your treatment.
Superficial Folliculitis affects the upper area of the hair follicle and may cause red, inflamed skin, small clusters of red bumps, blisters that break open and crust over, and/or itchiness and tenderness. When the infection occurs in men’s beards, it is called Barber’s Itch. When it is caused by a fungal infection, it is known as Tinea Barbae (ringworm).
Deep Folliculitis affects the entire follicle, from its deepest parts under the skin to the surface of the skin. This less-common form of folliculitis is seen in people who are undergoing chronic acne antibiotic treatment, people with HIV, or people with boils and carbuncles.
Minor folliculitis, which is very common, typically goes away on its own without treatment. Moderate or uncomfortable cases of the condition should be treated with antifungal medications. Folliculitis treatment can also include oral or topical antibiotics and antihistamines.
Chronic folliculitis is more difficult to treat, and it always requires a doctor’s help. Treatment for persistent or deep folliculitis may include antibiotics and laser hair removal.
While folliculitis can be identified and treated at home, only a doctor can provide a definitive diagnosis. If you suspect you have this condition, make an appointment with the dermatologist, especially if it is chronic. The doctor may be able to diagnose the condition on appearance alone, but they may also remove a bump or two for testing. Folliculitis can resemble other types of skin conditions, so it is important to identify the source of the irritation before starting any form of treatment.
Folliculitis can sometimes become inflamed, spreading the infection. If your skin irritation is accompanied by fever, spreading rash, or pus-filled bumps, you will need immediate folliculitis treatment from a medical professional.
If you are interested in an evaluation by one of our board certified medical dermatologists, schedule an appointment now.