Folliculitis is a fairly common, yet benign skin irritation, similar to acne. It presents itself with red bumps, resembling hives; each one at the site of a hair follicle. Occasionally these bumps look like acne bumps, as they can sometimes have a dot of pus at the top. Easily curable, folliculitis, can occur in anyone, regardless of age or level of overall health. Anywhere hair follicles grow, folliculitis can occur, from the face, scalp, chest, back, buttocks, genital region, as well as legs.
What causes folliculitis? Folliculitis is an inflammatory condition affecting hair follicles. It appears as a small red tender bump occasionally surmounted with a dot of pus surrounding a hair. It is generally caused by an excess of bacteria, and poor hygiene, even for a short time. In some cases, it can even be caused by irritants within a drug or products used on the skin. When an individual shaves or exfoliates the skin, it causes micro-cuts along the skins surface. Depending on the product applied after or the amount of bacteria that is able to get into these micro-cuts, folliculitis will develop.
Types of folliculitis Acne vulgaris Acne vulgaris occurs almost often in teenagers at puberty. Acne vulgaris specifically affects the hair follicles of the face, chest, and back.
Drug-induced folliculitis Systemically administered or topically applied steroids (cortisone-containing medications), or certain anti-cancer drugs are well-known causes of folliculitis.
Cutting oil folliculitis Machinists exposed to insoluble cutting oils that are used to decrease the friction in the fabrication of metal parts can develop a folliculitis on the exposed skin.
Staphylococcal folliculitis Staphylococci are bacteria that commonly inhabit the skin. One species, S. aureus, is a frequent cause of folliculitis. Occasionally, this organism may be resistant to a number of commonly used antibiotics. In this situation, it is very important that a culture of the organism with sensitivities be performed so the ideal antibiotic is selected to treat the infection.
Fungal folliculitis Folliculitis from a fungus infection can occur on the face and on the lower legs. It is often exacerbated by shaving. Certain fungi penetrate the skin and take over sites of hair follicles, through micro-cuts in the skin, caused by shaving.
Viral folliculitis Folliculitis from a virus infection often affects the face and is from herpes simplex virus affecting the lips, commonly known as a cold sore.
Scarring scalp folliculitis There are a variety of rare, inflammatory, scarring types of folliculitis that can result in permanent hair loss.
Eosinophilic folliculitis Eosinophilic folliculitis is an uncommon condition that is poorly understood and occurs occasionally as a response to certain drugs, in immunosuppressed patients (AIDS and bone marrow cancers), and in infants, affecting the scalp.
Treatment Generally, folliculitis can be helped by using better shaving techniques, and better skin care. Hygiene must be a priority, and antibacterial/antifungals should be used. However, folliculitis must be treated with medication. After careful examination, your doctor will determine the best course of treatment. But the most beneficial course will be a combination of antibiotics as well as topical creams. In order to remove the red bumps and prevent them from leaving scars, your dermatologist may suggest some form of skin resurfacing. Laser skin resurfacing, chemical peels, microdermabrasion, dermabrasion, certain dermal injectables, as well as other cosmetic treatments may be necessary to get rid of unsightly red bumps.