Folliculitis is a medical condition that occurs when the hair follicles are infected. This infection can occur due to infection by Staphylococcus aureus or due to other bacteria. There are other types of folliculitis which are known as Barber’s itch and Hot Tub Folliculitis. Severe form of folliculitis can also cause permanent loss of hair as well as scaring. Even mild form of folliculitis can be embarrassing and may lead to discomfort. Superficial folliculitis often cure on its own without any medical treatment but deep and reappearing folliculitis often needs medical intervention.
Types of Folliculitis
There are two basic categories of folliculitis which are deep folliculitis and superficial folliculitis. These types are explained below.
- Staphylococcal folliculitis: This type of skin condition is common and is characterized with itchy, pus filled bumps that are often white in color. These bumps can occur anywhere on the body where hair-follicles are present.
- Pseudomonas Folliculitis: This is a technical term to refer to what is commonly known as hot tub folliculitis.
- Pseudo folliculitis: This condition affects individual when shaved hair grows back in a curling fashion which causes infection. This condition is commonly referred to as Barber’s itch.
- Pityrosporum folliculitis: This condition is common in teens and is caused due to yeast. It may lead to chronic red pustules on various regions of the body which can be itchy as well.
- Sycosis barbae: This condition is common in men who just began shaving and the condition affects all the hairs on the beard.
- Boils and carbuncles: The condition occurs when hair follicle become infected deeply due to staph bacteria. There is a spontaneous development of reddish or pinkish painful bumps.
- Eosiophilic folliculitis: This type of folliculitis is commonly found on HIV. This condition is characterized with recurring patches of pus filled sores which may also be inflamed.
Symptoms of folliculitis
Folliculitis symptoms as well as signs may greatly depend on the type of the infection.
Superficial folliculitis infection is infection of the upper region of the hair follicle. Symptoms experienced under this condition include:
- Reddish pus filled bumps appearing in clusters that develop around hair follicle
- These blisters may break open and form crust
- Inflammation and redness of the skin
- Itchiness and tenderness of the affected region
Deep folliculitis begins from a deeper portion in the hair follicles and affects the entire follicle. Signs and symptoms that may be noticed in case of deep folliculitis includes:
- Large bump or mass which may also be swollen
- Blisters that may be filed with pus which may later break and form crust
- Pain on the affected area
- Possible scarring that appear after the infection is cleared
Causes of folliculitis
Folliculitis is an infection of the follicle which is often caused due to bacteria, fungi and viruses. The most common cause of folliculitis is said to be Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. Follicles are said to be in higher amount on the scalp; however, there are present everywhere on the body. Follicles are only not present on regions such as soles, palms and mucous membrane like lips, etc. Damages follicles are vulnerable to infections and factor that my cause damages to follicles include:
- Friction caused due to tight clothes or shaving
- Excessive sweating or perspiration
- Skin conditions that are inflammatory such as acne or dermatitis
- Skin injuries like abrasions and wounds caused due to surgery
- Skin covering due to plastic dressing or stick tapes
Folliculitis can often be diagnosed by a doctor merely through visual inspection. When visual inspection is not enough to confirm the affliction then he may suggest further test such as a controlled cultured test. In this test a pustule from the affected skin is tested for bacterial infection. If eosinophilic folliculitis is suspected then a sample from the affected skin region is taken and sent to the laboratory for examination, a process called biopsy. This sample is then tested under microscope for certain infections.
Treatment for Folliculitis
Mild cases of folliculitis will probably ebb away on their own without any medical aid. However, in case if the infection is persistent and recurring then one should go for treatment. The type and severity of the condition would help in determining a treatment for the issue. Treatment for folliculitis is explained according to its type.
- Staphylococcal folliculitis: Your doctor may suggest you topical antibiotic which may be present in cream form. This solution has to be applied on the affected skin region. Antibiotics tablets are also often suggested that should be orally used. Avoid shaving until the condition is treated or if needed use electric razor.
- Pseudomonas folliculitis: This condition does not have a specific treatment; however, doctors may suggest topical and oral medicines. Serious cases may need treatment based on antibiotics.
- Pseudofolliculitis barbae: This condition can be cured using home care measures. Avoid shaving or use electric shaver. Avoid friction on the skin.
- Pityrosporum folliculitis: This type of folliculitis is often treated well using effective oral and topical anti-fungal creams. This condition can be recurring even after treating it completely. This is why doctors often suggest long term use of topical ointments.
- Sycosis barbae: Your doctor may suggest you hot compress using salt and topical antibiotics. Oral antibiotic may be suggested if the condition is severe.
- Boils and carbuncles: In case if large boils or carbuncles are seen then your doctor may drain away the pus filled in it, through an incision. This will help in reducing pain and speed-up the recovery.
- Eosiophillic folliculitis: There are various therapies used to treat the condition which are found to be effective. However, the primary treatment of choice is said to be corticosteroid medicine. Your doctor may suggest short medical regime based on oral corticosteroid medicine if the infection is determined to be severe. In case if the patient is affected with eosinophilic folliculitis and also has HIV/AIDS, then your doctor may recommend topical steroid medicines.
Remember that these medicines may also have side effects if not appropriately used. Hence to determine suitable dosage of the medicine it is wise to consult a doctor and undergo entire treatment according to his instructions.