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.
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
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.