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Home :: Folliculitis

Folliculitis - Treatment for Folliculitis

Alternative names of Folliculitis : Pseudofolliculitis barbae, Tinea barbae, Barber's itch

What is Folliculitis ?

Folliculitis is a bacterial infection of the hair follicles or the skin surrounding the hair. This condition is fairly common. Folliculitis usually appears as small, white-headed pimples around one or more hair follicles — the tiny pockets from which each individual hair grows. Most infections are superficial, affecting just the upper part of the follicle, and although they may itch, they're seldom painful.

The pimples can occur almost anywhere on your body, but they are especially common on the face, scalp, thighs, legs and in the groin area.

Folliculitis can affect both women and men at any age. It can develop on any part of the body, but is most likely to occur on the scalp, face, or parts of the arms, armpits, or legs not usually covered by clothing. Folliculitis often starts with damage to your hair follicles — either from a blockage of the follicles or from friction caused by clothing or shaving.

Folliculitis looks like a small, yellowish-white blister-like lumps (pustules) surrounded by narrow red rings are usually present with both bacterial folliculitis and fungal folliculitis. Hair can grow through or alongside of the pustules, which sometimes ooze blood-stained pus.

What are the causes of Folliculitis ?

Folliculitis starts when hair follicles are damaged by friction from clothing, blockage of the follicle, or shaving. In most cases of folliculitis, the damaged follicles are then infected with the bacteria staphylococcus (staph). The bacteria that cause folliculitis are contagious. A person who has folliculitis can infect others who live in the same household.

Barber's itch is a staph infection of the hair follicles in the beard area of the face, usually the upper lip. Shaving aggravates the condition. Tinea barbae is similar to barber's itch, but the infection is caused by a fungus.

Factors that increase the risk of developing folliculitis include :-

  • Dirty, crowded living conditions.
  • Tight clothing can also contribute to the development of folliculitis.
  • Eczema.
  • Contact with oils, tar and grease can make one more susceptible to folliculitis.
  • Dermatitis
  • Heat and sweating are also factors that can contribute to folliculitis.

What are the Symptoms of Folliculitis ?

The signs and symptoms of folliculitis vary, depending on the type of infection. In superficial forms of the disorder, small pimples develop around one or more hair follicles. One way to distinguish a follicular pimple from acne is that with a follicular pimple you often can see the hair shaft at the center of the lesion. Some of the common Symptoms of Folliculitis includes:-

  • Typically occur on neck axilla, or groin area.
  • May present as genital lesions.
  • Rash (reddened skin area).
  • Itching skin.
  • Pimples or pustules located around a hair follicle.

Treatment for Folliculitis

Sometimes folliculitis goes away on its own in two or three days, but persistent or recurring cases are likely to require treatment. Bacterial folliculitis may disappear without treatment, but is likely to recur.

Non-prescription topical antibiotics like Bacitracin, Mycitracin, or Neomycin, gently rubbed on to affected areas three or four times a day, can clear up a small number of bacterial folliculitis pustules. Some of the common treatment for folliculitis are :-

  • Your doctor may advise not shaving the affected area until the infection heals. If you must shave, use an electric razor or clean razor blade every time. If the problem persists, you may need topical or oral antibiotics.
  • Hot tub folliculitis rarely requires treatment, although your doctor may prescribe an oral or topical medication to help relieve itching (anti-pruritic). More serious cases may require an oral antibiotic.
  • The drug griseofulvin (Fulvicin) and topical antifungal medications are used to treat fungal folliculitis.
  • Oral antibiotics such as erythromycin (Erythocin) may be prescribed if the infection is widespread.
  • Daily doses of 30-50 mg zinc and 1,000-5,000 mg Vitamin C (taken in equal amounts at several times during the day), and 300-2,000 mg bioflavinoids can also strengthen the body's infection-fighting ability. High doses of vitamins and minerals should not be used without a doctor's approval.

Prevention tips for Folliculitis

To prevent further damage to the hair follicles and infection:

  • Minimize friction from clothing by wearing loose cotton clothing will help prevent folliculitis.
  • If you own a hot tub, clean it regularly and add chlorine when recommended. Use commercial tubs only if you're sure they're well maintained.
  • Cleaning the area once to twice a day with the liquid form of Lever 2000 soap (a mild antibacterial soap) is helpful.
  • Use an electric razor or a new blade every time you shave. Be especially careful to keep the shaved area clean and to avoid cuts and nicks. If you're a woman who gets frequent infections, you may want to consider depilatories or other methods of hair removal.

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