Folliculitis is a skin condition in which hair follicles become inflamed. However, it has a number of different causes. Sometimes it requires antibiotics to heal, as these bumps can spread and turn into non-healing crusty sores if left untreated. The condition isn’t life-threatening, but it can be irritating, itchy, and unsightly.
Who gets folliculitis? This condition is most commonly caused by a bacterial infection in a collection of hair follicles. It can also come from fungal infections, viruses, or inflammation from ingrown hairs. Folliculitis can occur anywhere on the body where there is hair.
Anyone can develop it, but some conditions make a person more susceptible to getting it. These include having a medical condition that weakens your resistance to infection, like diabetes, chronic leukemia, or HIV/AIDS. Wearing tight clothing that traps sweat and damaging hair follicles while shaving may lead to folliculitis.
What are the types of folliculitis? There are two main types of folliculitis: superficial and deep. Superficial folliculitis involves just part of the hair follicle. This includes a few types of the condition, including hot tub folliculitis, which comes from a hot tub that contains poorly regulated chemical levels. It also includes razor bumps caused by shaving improperly and causing irritation, and pityrosporum folliculitis, which is caused by a yeast infection.
Deep folliculitis involves the whole hair follicle and is typically more severe. This includes boils, which occur when hair follicles become deeply infected with staph bacteria. Gram-negative folliculitis is another type of deep folliculitis, sometimes developing in patients receiving long-term antibiotic therapy for acne.
How do you prevent it? Try to find the source of the irritation. Avoid wearing tight clothing, and always shave with care with a sharp blade. Wash the skin with mild soap and water before shaving, use a liberal amount of shaving lotion, and be sure to moisturize afterward. Avoid going in hot tubs unless they’ve been properly sanitized. With these steps, you can avoid irritation and help prevent folliculitis.
This column is sponsored by Lakeside Dermatology, and the opinions expressed herein may not reflect those of CFHN or its advertisers.
BIO: Dr. Alex Kennon, MD, FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist who is fellowship-trained in Mohs micrographic surgery. He received his undergraduate and medical degrees from Florida State University and completed his dermatology residency at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University. Lakeside Dermatology has offices in Sebring and Winter Haven.