What is folliculitis?
Folliculitis is an inflammation of hair follicles: the tiny pouches in your skin from which hairs grow. It is a very common skin condition, and generally harmless. When hair follicles become irritated or infected, you can experience folliculitis. The most common areas for folliculitis to develop are the back, buttocks, legs, arms, chest, and face.
Symptoms of folliculitis are usually mild and typically include:
These small red bumps are centered around a hair and may have a tiny amount of pus. When scratched, the spots may ooze pus, blood, or both.
When the hair follicles on your skin get damaged, it’s easy for bacteria or viruses to enter and cause an infection. This often happens when shaving, when you touch or rub your skin frequently, or if you wear tight clothing in warm weather.
Other possible causes of folliculitis include:
- Improperly maintained hot tubs
- Plucking or waxing skin
- Weight gain
- Exposure to insoluble cutting oils
- Herpes simplex virus
- Certain fungal infections
Who can get it
Anyone can get folliculitis, but people who shave or wax regularly seem to develop it more often than others.
Diagnosis for folliculitis
In order to diagnose folliculitis, your doctor will examine your skin and may test a small amount of the fluid in the red bumps. Additionally, your doctor will ask:
- How long you have had your symptoms
- If you have had folliculitis previously
- If you are experiencing any other symptoms
- General questions about your health and activities
Most folliculitis is caused by bacteria or fungus. If your doctor determines that the bacteria causing your follicle irritation is a kind called staphylococci, you may require more advanced care, as this kind of bacteria can be resistant to certain kinds of antibiotics.
Treatments for folliculitis
Most mild cases of folliculitis resolve themselves within two weeks. Putting a warm compress on the affected area for 15 to 20 minutes three to four times a day can help manage symptoms and speed up your recovery. Simply soak a washcloth in warm water, wring out the excess, and place the warm, damp towel over the affected area.
Other home remedies for folliculitis include:
- Washing with a mild soap twice a day
- Applying aloe vera gel
- Swabbing with diluted hydrogen peroxide
- Applying anti-itch lotion or gel
If shaving, waxing, or plucking the area is part of the cause of irritation, stop doing so for at least 30 days.
Folliculitis caused by using an improperly maintained hot tub, also called “hot tub folliculitis,” appears a few hours or days after soaking. The bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa infects follicles and causes the reaction. Itching or discomfort caused by “hot tub folliculitis” can be relieved with over-the-counter anti-itch ointment like hydrocortisone.
Certain kinds of medicated shampoo can help relieve itching associated with folliculitis on the scalp or beard area. Additionally, taking over-the-counter pain medication can relieve discomfort or itching from folliculitis.
If your folliculitis does not go away, gets increasingly red and painful, or happens with a fever, you should talk to your doctor. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics or other medicine to manage the skin condition.
There are some simple ways to avoid folliculitis:
- Only use well-maintained hot tubs
- Wear loose-fitting clothing in warm weather
- Thoroughly wash and dry your bathing suit after each use
- Shave carefully in the same direction as hair growth
- Bathe or shower daily with mild soap
- Moisturize your skin with a non-oily lotion
- Do not share towels or washcloths with others
- Wash your towels and washcloths frequently
Maintaining your overall health and good hygiene are the best ways to prevent folliculitis.
Possible complications and side effects of folliculitis
You should contact your doctor if you experience:
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
American Academy of Dermatology Association: "ACNE-LIKE BREAKOUTS COULD BE FOLLICULITIS."
American Osteopathic College of Dermatology: "HOT TUB FOLLICULITIS."
DermNet NZ: "Staphylococcal skin infection."
Merck Manuals: "Folliculitis."
Nationwide Children’s Hospital: "Folliculitis."
Top What Is the Best Treatment for Folliculitis Related Articles
8 Skin Warning Signs to Worry About in a RashMost of the rashes are harmless and may not indicate anything serious. However, if there are these accompanying symptoms along with the skin rash, it may signify something serious.
A rash can become serious if immediate medical assistance is not provided when a patient has the below symptoms including rash covers most of the body, continuous itching, fever, and difficulty breathing
Are Skin Rashes Contagious?Direct and indirect contact can spread some types of rashes from person to person. Rash treatment depends upon a rash's underlying cause. A rash that sheds large amounts of skin warrants urgent medical attention. Rashes can be either contagious or noncontagious. Noncontagious rashes include seborrheic dermatitis, atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, stasis dermatitis, psoriasis, nummular eczema, drug eruptions, hives, heat rash (miliaria), and diaper rash. Rashes usually considered contagious include molluscum contagiosum (viral), impetigo (bacterial), herpes (herpes simplex, types 1 and 2 viruses), rash caused by Neisseria meningitides (N. meningitides) (bacterial), rash and blisters that accompany shingles (herpes zoster virus), ringworm (fungal) infections (tinea), scabies (itch mite), chickenpox (viral), measles and rubella (viral), erythema infectiosum (viral), pityriasis rosea (viral), cellulitis and erysipelas (bacterial), lymphangitis (bacterial, and folliculitis (bacterial).
Can You Get a Skin Rash From Stress?Yes, the stress can make the skin break into hives. Stress induces a chemical response in the body that makes the skin more sensitive. It releases the hormone, cortisol, in the body that directs the gland in the skin to produce more oil, causing more skin problems.
Eosinophilic Pustular Folliculitis PictureEosinophilic pustular folliculitis (EPF) is a skin disorder characterized by recurring itchy, red or skin-colored bumps and pustules (bumps containing pus). Skin biopsies of this disorder find eosinophils (a type of immune cell) around hair follicles. The pustules mostly appear on the face, scalp, neck and trunk and may persist for weeks or months. EPF affects males more than females. There are several variants of EPF including classic Eosinophilic pustular folliculitis (mainly occurring in adults in Japan); HIV-associated EPF, also referred to as immunosuppression-associated EPF; and infantile EPF (with onset from birth or within the first year of life).
FolliculitisFolliculitis is a skin condition that causes small red bumps to form around the hair follicles. Skin bacteria such as Staphylococcus and Pseudomonas may infect the follicles. Treatment involves over-the-counter bacterial washes, topical antibiotics, and/or topical steroids.
Non-Itchy Red Spots: 20 Skin DisordersA variety of conditions can cause red spots, both itchy and non-itchy. Learn about common skin disorders, causes, and treatment.
Skin RashThe word "rash" means an outbreak of red bumps on the body. The way people use this term, "a rash" can refer to many different skin conditions. The most common of these are scaly patches of skin and red, itchy bumps or patches all over the place.
The Skin (Human Anatomy): Picture, Definition, Function and Skin ConditionsThe skin is the largest organ in the body that covers the entire external surface. It protects the internal organs from germs and thus helps prevent infections. The skin is made up of three main layers.
Skin InfectionsViruses, bacteria, and fungi can all cause skin infections. What is scabies? Learn about golden staph infections, cellulitis, impetigo, fifth disease, leprosy, and more. See photos of infections like chickenpox, athlete’s foot, and candida, a fungal yeast skin infection.
Skin Problems: Contagious Rashes, Bumps, and BlistersWhy do rashes, bumps, and blisters appear on your skin? There are several medical causes. Find out what causes bumps, rashes, and other skin conditions in adults and children. Whether on the arm, leg, trunk, or head, itchy or painful rashes and bumps can often be treated using home remedies or medicine.
Skin Problems: Rosacea, Acne, Shingles, Covid-19 RashesLearn to spot and treat skin conditions commonly found in adults such as acne, Covid-19 rashes, eczema, shingles, psoriasis, rosacea, hives, cold sores, razor bumps, athlete's foot, and more dermatology details.
Skin Health: How to Get Clear SkinAcne, pimples, zits and blemishes often appear on the face, back, chest, neck, and shoulders where skin has the most amount of oil glands. Few of us are immune to breakouts, but treatments can minimize outbreaks. Follow these 15 tips for a clear complexion and skin.
The Skin: 7 Most Important Layers and FunctionsThe skin is the largest organ in the body and it covers the body's entire external surface. It is made up of seven layers. The first five layers form the epidermis, which is the outermost, thick layer of the skin. The hypodermis is the deepest layer of skin situated below the dermis.
What Are the Types of Skin Lesions?A skin lesion is an abnormal growth or rash on the skin as compared to normal skin. There are two main categories of skin lesions: primary and secondary lesions. Primary skin lesions are abnormal skin conditions that may be present at birth or acquired later. Secondary skin lesions are a result of irritated or manipulated primary skin lesions.
What Happens if Folliculitis Goes Untreated?What is folliculitis? Folliculitis is a common and usually minor skin condition. Learn the signs of folliculitis and what can happen if it goes untreated.