Folliculitis symptoms typically clear up on their own with at-home care, but in some cases, treatment from a dermatologist is necessary to heal the infection. If you are facing bumps on hair follicles, itching, or soreness, schedule an appointment with Dr. Damstetter at Reserve Dermatology for folliculitis care.

What is Folliculitis?

Folliculitis is a common skin infection that affects the hair follicles. A folliculitis infection may be bacterial or fungal. While not life-threatening, the condition can be persistent and cause itchiness and soreness. Mild cases of folliculitis tend to heal on their own or through basic at-home care, while more advanced cases require care from a dermatologist.

There are several different types of folliculitis. These include:

  • Bacterial folliculitis
  • Boils and carbuncles
  • Eosinophilic folliculitis
  • Gram-negative folliculitis
  • Pityrosporum folliculitis
  • Pseudomonas barbae
  • Pseudomonas folliculitis (hot tub folliculitis)
  • Sycosis barbae

Liz Damstetter, MD

Board-Certified Dermatologist

Meet the Doctor

Folliculitis Symptoms

Folliculitis typically causes multiple small red bumps or whiteheads around the hair follicles. These may also escalate to larger pus-filled blisters, which can crust over and persist for long periods of time. Folliculitis may itch or burn, and the skin is often tender or painful. In some cases, patients may also develop a large swollen mass as a result of folliculitis.

Common Folliculitis Causes

The most common folliculitis cases are caused by staphylococcal bacteria within the hair follicles. However, fungal or viral infections or inflammation from ingrown hairs are also possible. Many patients develop folliculitis as a result of improper hair removal, including shaving, waxing, or plucking. This is especially true for those who are shaving coarse, curly hair. Hair follicles can also develop an infection due to blockages from skincare products or tight, non-breathable clothing, shoes, or gloves. Damage to hair follicles can be a root cause of folliculitis, which may occur from injuries to the skin, bandages, tight clothing, or other issues. Bacteria or fungus can also be spread in improperly cleaned pools or hot tubs, resulting in so-called hot tub folliculitis. Finally, patients may be more likely to develop folliculitis after taking corticosteroids or antibiotics or if they have illnesses that affect the immune system such as diabetes, leukemia, or HIV/AIDS.


“I had a recent visit to Dr Damstetter’s clinic and would like to share my experience. I am a Navy vet(corpsman) and usually get seen at the VA but since we don’t have a Derm provider right now, I was fortunately sent out to her clinic to be evaluated. It’s a nice clinic in a nice area and was relatively easy to find. A pleasant Ms. Nancy at the front desk was helpful in completing the check-in process. Easy day. I did not have to wait long and was soon met by Dr. Damstetter’s assistant, who for classified reasons I will refer to as “Agent 8”. I am sure if she gets tired of providing excellent medical care, her slick-ninja skillset could get her a job with the CIA or MI6 maybe. Short story long, Agent 8 brought me back to the patient area, where I was introduced to Dr Damstetter, who was all the things you would want in a doctor: a knowledgeable provider with a great bedside manner. She gave me a thorough exam which did end up showing that I needed a minor procedure. No worries. I felt well taken care of throughout my visit. No one likes to have to see the doctor, but if you have a dermatological concern, this is a good place with good people who did great by me, and I am thankful to have been sent here.”

“Dr. Liz is truly the best dermatologist I’ve ever been to. She is attentive, kind, and genuinely cares about her patients and their overall skin health. I can not recommend her enough!!!”

“Wonderful experience here! The doctor took the time to educate me on a variety of cosmetic options and gave her candid opinion resulting in just the right amount of cosmetic adjustments! Her staff was delightful and attentive! I would highly recommend for general derm needs and cosmetic adjustments.”

“Dr. Damstetter was the first dermatologist I trusted to do my Botox. She is both knowledgeable and professional and did a fantastic job. I will be using her for any and all of my future needs.”

Treatment Options for Folliculitis

Dr. Damstetter can typically make a folliculitis diagnosis by visually examining the skin, but in rare cases, it is necessary to examine the skin under a microscope.

After making a diagnosis, there are several treatment options. Topical antibiotics, antifungals, or steroids are among the most common treatment options. These can be applied directly to the folliculitis infection to calm itching and kill the bacteria, fungus, or virus within the hair follicle. Oral medications can also be prescribed as necessary.

If necessary, a simple surgery may also be performed to relieve larger boils or carbuncles. This involves making a small incision to drain any fluid, which can relieve pain or discomfort and allow for faster healing.

Long-term or repeated folliculitis patients may benefit from laser hair removal. This reduces the chances of folliculitis as a result of shaving or other types of hair removal.

At-Home Folliculitis Care

If you believe you have folliculitis but do not have severe symptoms, there are some steps you can take at home to encourage healing. Applying a warm compress, thoroughly cleaning the affected area with antibacterial soap, and applying over-the-counter antibiotics can all help reduce folliculitis symptoms and allow your skin to heal. If symptoms persist, make an appointment with a dermatologist.


Schedule an Appointment

If you have folliculitis symptoms, schedule an appointment with Dr. Damstetter at Reserve Dermatology. Call our Glenview, IL office or If you have folliculitis symptoms, schedule an appointment with Dr. Damstetter at Reserve Dermatology. Call our Glenview, IL office or contact us online.

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