What is Folliculitis?
Folliculitis is a common skin condition where an individual’s hair follicles become inflamed. This agitation is often a result of a bacterial or fungal infection. However, folliculitis may also occur due to present yeast, as well as repeated friction in the affected area.
It may first appear similar to acne vulgaris as small red bumps, or tiny whiteheads around hair follicles. The infection can quickly spread, transforming into non-healing, crusted sores. Although this condition is not life-threatening, it is often itchy and annoying, sore, and embarrassing. Severe folliculitis infections normally cause permanent hair loss in addition to scarring in affected areas.
Folliculitis is also commonly confused with herpes simplex. While the condition may appear anywhere on the body, this confusion is because of similarities in symptom manifestation between the two conditions. However, on a biological level, they differ drastically.
Individuals with mild folliculitis cases will likely see the condition clear up in a few days with some basic self-care.
Folliculitis Causes and Symptoms
When a hair follicle is damaged as a result of an ingrown hair, shaving, blockages, as well as other means, this allows bacteria like staphylococcus to enter the system. Consequently, this results in an infection.
Folliculitis is a direct cause of the molluscum contagiosum virus (MCV).
If you suffer from the following symptoms, you may suffer from folliculitis:
- Clusters of small, red, swollen bumps or whiteheads developing near or around hair follicles.
- Red, itchy, burning skin.
- Blisters filled with pus that may break open and/or crust over.
- Tenderness or pain on contact with the afflicted area.
Types of Folliculitis
Facial bacterial infections result in folliculitis and numerous other skin conditions. This condition may also derive from a fungal infection as well.
Folliculitis comprises two classifications: superficial, as well as deep. The superficial form affects the surface follicles, while the deep classification affects the entire hair follicle. Specialists refer to this condition as deep folliculitis due to the affliction’s prevalence and severity deep within the tissue.
Determining the root causes as well as the type of folliculitis infection helps both the dermatologist and their patient decide optimal courses of action to treat the condition.
Types of superficial folliculitis include:
- Barber’s Itch – If your hair is curly or thick, you may possess an increased risk for barber’s itch. As the hair grows back after shaving or plucking, the hairs will often return ingrown. Ingrown hairs increase the chances of blockages, and therefore, inflammation. Barber’s itch afflicted skin may appear irritated, itchy, and red, additionally resulting in pimple-looking pustules in the area.
- Hot Tub Folliculitis – Hot tubs represent a breeding ground for Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a bacteria that causes rashes and pus-filled bumps. Symptoms can appear within hours or days after a dip in a hot tub.
Deep folliculitis types include:
- Sycosis Barbae – This folliculitis form is caused by Staphylococcus aureus and affects the facial beard area. Sycosis barbae occurs deep within the tissue, forming pustules that result in scarring as well as permanent hair loss.
- Boils and Carbuncles – When the hair follicles cause a deep infection with staphylococcus, it can also result in painful boils. These boils cause the surrounding skin to swell. The larger a boil, the increased chance for scarring upon rupturing.
The first step in effective folliculitis diagnosis is cytology. Cytology is a medical and scientific study directly correlating with bodily cells.
This diagnostic method is a simple, inexpensive, and reusable procedure that reveals numerous bacterial, fungal, viral, and parasitic pathogens including folliculitis. Physicians and specialists may employ cytology to diagnose eosinophilic folliculitis, in addition to several other forms.
At the Miami Center for Dermatology, our experienced, caring staff provides comprehensive folliculitis treatment. Depending on the severity of patient symptoms, a variety of procedures remain viable.
In more severe instances, treatment requires oral antibiotics for effective infection treatment. However, specialists can alleviate symptoms by applying warm compresses to affected areas.
In superficial folliculitis cases, a dermatologist may provide medication in pill form, as well as creams to help control the bacterial infection while reducing its inflammatory effects.
Nonetheless, for individuals that suffer from deep folliculitis, this often requires additional treatments that include:
- Laser Hair Removal – This treatment clears up skin infection causing follicles. However, it can result in permanent hair thinning, and also requires multiple treatments to remove skin hairs.
- Surgery – If there is a large painful boil on your body, minor surgery is the best solution to alleviate this condition. An incision drains the pus while helping to reduce pain and scarring.
- Photodynamic Treatment – Photodynamic treatment combines a photosensitizing agent with light. This may help clear up infections folliculitis symptoms. Consult first with a physician to help determine if this option is ideal for your condition.
The following information contains the best ways to prevent folliculitis from occurring altogether. These may help you avoid annoying and often painful folliculitis symptoms:
- Avoid shaving – If you possess curly or black hair, growing out your hair can prevent your hairs from returning ingrown and resulting in folliculitis infections. Although abstaining from shaving altogether is an ideal solution, it is hardly practical.
- Shave carefully – When you must shave, utilizing an electric razor or adopting a better shaving technique will help you avoid folliculitis. Additionally, applying a moisturizer after shaving, as well as softening the hair with a shaving cream application 5 to 10 minutes prior to shaving, and washing your face with warm water prior to a shave can all help reduce risks of folliculitis risks.
- Wear loose-fitting clothing – Continuous friction between clothing and skin follicles will often cause damage. This damage results in an opportunity for bacterial infection.
At the Miami Center for Dermatology, we are able to provide you with the best folliculitis treatment available. For more information on treatment folliculitis, infections folliculitis, and other skin infections related information, reach out to one of our specialists today to schedule an appointment!