Folliculitis

ExitCare ImageFolliculitis is redness, soreness, and swelling (inflammation) of the hair follicles. This condition can occur anywhere on the body. People with weakened immune systems, diabetes, or obesity have a greater risk of getting folliculitis.

CAUSES

  • Bacterial infection. This is the most common cause.

  • Fungal infection.

  • Viral infection.

  • Contact with certain chemicals, especially oils and tars.

Long-term folliculitis can result from bacteria that live in the nostrils. The bacteria may trigger multiple outbreaks of folliculitis over time.

SYMPTOMS

Folliculitis most commonly occurs on the scalp, thighs, legs, back, buttocks, and areas where hair is shaved frequently. An early sign of folliculitis is a small, white or yellow, pus-filled, itchy lesion (pustule). These lesions appear on a red, inflamed follicle. They are usually less than 0.2 inches (5 mm) wide. When there is an infection of the follicle that goes deeper, it becomes a boil or furuncle. A group of closely packed boils creates a larger lesion (carbuncle). Carbuncles tend to occur in hairy, sweaty areas of the body.

DIAGNOSIS

Your caregiver can usually tell what is wrong by doing a physical exam. A sample may be taken from one of the lesions and tested in a lab. This can help determine what is causing your folliculitis.

TREATMENT

Treatment may include:

  • Applying warm compresses to the affected areas.

  • Taking antibiotic medicines orally or applying them to the skin.

  • Draining the lesions if they contain a large amount of pus or fluid.

  • Laser hair removal for cases of long-lasting folliculitis. This helps to prevent regrowth of the hair.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

  • Apply warm compresses to the affected areas as directed by your caregiver.

  • If antibiotics are prescribed, take them as directed. Finish them even if you start to feel better.

  • You may take over-the-counter medicines to relieve itching.

  • Do not shave irritated skin.

  • Follow up with your caregiver as directed.

SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • You have increasing redness, swelling, or pain in the affected area.

  • You have a fever.

MAKE SURE YOU:

  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.