Folliculitis: Diagnosis and treatment
What is folliculitis?
This is a common skin infection that develops in the hair follicles. Folliculitis can appear anywhere on the skin, except for our palms and soles. Symptoms can vary. You may not feel anything. Sometimes, the infection causes itchy skin. It’s also possible for your skin to feel painful.
How did I get folliculitis?
You get folliculitis when you damage your hair follicles. Once damaged, it’s easy for germs to get inside the follicles and cause an infection. A common source of infection is Staph aureus, which is found on our skin. Other organisms on our skin can also cause an infection.
You can damage your hair follicles by:
- Touching or rubbing your skin frequently
- Wearing Tight clothing or equipment
- Having skin rub against skin
- Hot tub (improperly maintained)
- Shaving, plucking, or waxing
- Medication applied to the skin, such as coal tar
- Medication you take
- Weight gain
- Have a healthy immune system
- Stop doing what caused the folliculitis
- Apply a warm compress at least 3 to 4 times a day.
- Leave the compress on your skin for 15 to 20 minutes each time.
- If a warm compress helps you feel more comfortable, you can apply it more than 4 times a day.
- When shaving, plucking, or waxing causes the infection, you’ll want to stop doing these things for 30 days.
When your skin is damp and hot, it’s easier to damage your hair follicles and get an infection.
How can I get rid of folliculitis?
The acne-like breakouts tend to go away on their own if you:
To clear your skin more quickly and get relief, apply warm compresses to the area. When using warm compresses, dermatologists recommend that you:
Do I need to see a dermatologist about folliculitis?
It can be helpful to see a dermatologist to make sure you have folliculitis. The infected hair follicles can look like another skin condition, such as acne. A board-certified dermatologist can tell you whether you have folliculitis and give you tips to help clear it. Some people need medication, such as an antibiotic, to clear the folliculitis.
Seeing a dermatologist can also be helpful if you develop razor bumps from shaving and cannot stop shaving. Some men can continue shaving when they apply a medication to their skin. Your dermatologist can also give you tips that can reduce the irritation that shaving causes.
While the acne-like breakouts of folliculitis tend to go away on their own, it can feel unsettling to suddenly see these appear on your skin. A board-certified dermatologist can tell you whether you have folliculitis and help you feel more comfortable.