Define Folliculitis – What are its causes, symptoms, types, treatment, recovery with images

What is folliculitis?

Folliculitis is an inflammatory condition affecting hair follicles. It usually appears as pus filled dot or a small tender bump surrounding a hair. Pus filled dots can turn into red bumps after some time.

Wherever a hair is present, a folliculitis can occur in number of one to hundreds. Some type of folliculitis that we came across regularly is acne vulgaris or a facial rash. Any part of the body can get affected by the folliculitis. Only areas that remain unaffected by the folliculitis are soles of the body (hands and feet)

Is folliculitis dangerous? What is folliculitis caused by?
Is folliculitis dangerous? What is folliculitis caused by?

What are common types of folliculitis?

Acne vulgaris

Mainly occurs in teenagers at the time of adolescence and puberty. Mainly affected areas of the acne vulgaris are face, chest, and the back. It is usually present as red pimples on the a face and sometimes they may be filled with the pus also.

How long does folliculitis take to go away?

Drug-induced folliculitis

Corticosteroids containing medications also called as steroids are another common cause of folliculitis. Such medications are usually given in topical formulations or in injectables form.

Cutting oil folliculitis

Cutting oils mainly used for reducing the friction while working with the machining metal parts. Workers or mechanists when exposed to this oil, they can get folliculitis.

Staphylococcal folliculitis

Staphylococcus aureus is a common cause of folliculitis because staphylococci are bacteria that commonly inhabit the skin. This is the organism which is resistant to a number of antibiotics for example methicillin. In order to treat the bacterial folliculitis, a sensitivity tests should be performed and the most effective antibiotics should be chosen to eradicate the bacteria completely.

Fungal folliculitis

It is a fungal infection that can occur on the face and the lower legs. Shaving exacerbated this condition.

Viral folliculitis

Herpes simplex virus is responsible for this viral infection. It mainly affects the face and lips and also 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.

What is the cause of folliculitis in scalp?

Eosinophilic folliculitis

This condition is caused due to certain drugs and is an uncommon condition. It mainly affects the scalp in the immunosuppressed patients such as AIDS and bone marrow cancer patients.

What are the causes of folliculitis?

Infectious organisms can be responsible for folliculitis. There are many causes that can cause folliculitis such as:

  • Drugs such as steroids
  • Irritating chemical substances
  • Physical irritants (shaving)
  • Bacteria
  • Viruses

One should identify the real cause of the folliculitis in order to help the doctor to find the right treatment for your condition.

Is folliculitis contagious?

Folliculitis can be contagious but it solely depends upon what type of folliculitis you have. Many types of folliculitis are not contagious but bacterial folliculitis also called staphylococcal folliculitis is extremely contagious. It can be transmitted by sharing infected razors, sports equipment, or towels. Here we will see if this type of folliculitis is contagious or not?

Is bacterial folliculitis is contagious?

Bacterial folliculitis is mainly caused by Staphylococcus, bacteria that commonly inhabit the skin. This bacterium does not cause any problem until and unless it enters into the skin through a cut or liaison and cause infection. This is the organism which is resistant to a number of antibiotics for example: methicillin. Bacterial folliculitis is characterized by white, itchy, pus-filled bumps. When your hair follicles become infected you will start developing the pus filled papules. In order to treat the bacterial folliculitis, a sensitivity tests should be performed and the most effective antibiotics should be chosen to eradicate the bacteria completely. It is extremely contagious and can transmit from one person to another as the bacteria present on the skin of the infected person. It can pass on to other person by means of a tool, shaving razors etc.

Is barber’s itch contagious?

It is called as barber’s itch because it usually affects man’s beard area. Barber’s itch is caused by S.aureus. You develop white, itchy, pus-filled lumps when your skin in your beard area becomes infected. You can get it while shaving and when you irritate your facial hairs.

Are boils and carbuncles contagious?

A severe infection from staphylococcus bacteria can result into boils and carbuncles. A painful red color boil appears almost immediately after you counteracted with infection. The bump filled with pus and gets bigger in size within no time. It drains after getting inflamed and rupture. A large boil usually ends up into a scar. A cluster or a group of boils is called as a carbuncle. The fluid or the pus of the carbuncles and boils are contagious because it contains a number of staphylococcus bacteria. It usually appears on your shoulders, thighs, or back of the neck. As compared to single boil, carbuncles cause a more severe infection.

How to diagnose folliculitis?

A physical examination of the affected area is sufficient enough to diagnose the folliculitis. He may take a sample of your infected skin if your treatment does not fade away with time. The sample of the skin sent to the laboratory in order to determine the exact cause of the infection. Rarely, a skin biopsy may be done to rule out other conditions.

What is the recovery period for folliculitis?

The recovery period for folliculitis is depended upon how early the folliculitis has been detected. It can be cured within 1 or 2 weeks if detected early. But if your folliculitis is deep seated, it may take more time than usual to heal. You should continue proper treatment and avoid folliculitis triggers in order to get rid of the condition like folliculitis. Appropriate treatment and proper care fasten the recovery period. Folliculitis is not a complicated issue and it does not cause any problematic situation, however, it can leave scars and blemishes on the skin. Folliculitis can recur after a period of time. You may also suffer from hair loss permanently as folliculitis can hurt the hair follicle permanently.

Who is more likely to get folliculitis?

You might be eager to know that who can get folliculitis or who is at the greater risk of folliculitis. So, the answer to this question is “anyone can get folliculitis” however, certain factors increase your risk of getting you in this condition. If you already suffering from dermatitis or acne, you are more prone to get folliculitis. If you have damaged your skin in past, even then there is a chance that you can develop folliculitis. Long term administration of antibiotic medications, being overweight, and applying steroid crèmes for the long term can increase your risk of developing folliculitis. Other factors that increase the risk of getting folliculitis are medications for the weak immune system, shaving, soaking in a hot tub, and tight clothing for a longer time.

How to prevent folliculitis from coming back?

Here are some tips that can help you to prevent from getting folliculitis:

  • Avoid wearing tight clothes in order to avoid folliculitis. Tight clothing enhances the friction and traps the sweat in the skin which gives a chance to bacteria to grow and infect hair follicle.
  • If you use rubber gloves for any household purpose, don’t forget to clean the gloves and dry them properly. You should always check your rubber gloves for dryness before wearing.
  • If you find the folliculitis develop on your face, try not to shave for a period or so.
  • Whenever you merge in to hot tubs, make sure the water inside the tub is clean. It will help you to prevent the growth of folliculitis. You can add chlorine to your pool for keeping it clean.

What are the risk factors for folliculitis?

The development of folliculitis may occur to anyone. But, there are few conditions that make you more vulnerable to this disorder. These risk factors for folliculitis include:

  • Diseases such as HIV/AIDS, chronic leukemia, and diabetes as such diseases reduce the immunity of the body to fight even minimal infections.
  • A skin surgery, skin injury, or a plastic surgery
  • Long term administration of steroids or antibiotics
  • Overweight
  • Tight clothing, High boots, and rubber gloves
  • Unclean and ill-maintained hot tubs
  • Shaving with infected razors

What is hot tub folliculitis or Jacuzzi folliculitis?

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is the main organism which is responsible for developing hot tub folliculitis. As the name indicates, ill-maintained hot tubs are the origin of hot tub folliculitis. The main areas of presence of folliculitis are back and torso. They appear as red to purple bumps all over the back and torso. Sometimes it may cause severe itch while sometimes it is non symptomatic. A person infected with hot tub folliculitis may have a history of long term sitting in the hot tubs. It is good practice to rinse off the skin in a shower after this sort of bathing.

Pool and spa personnel should be asked to maintain the pool and hot tubs properly. One can add chlorine to their hot tubs for cleaning of the hot tubs.  The affected area can be treated with the help of diluted vinegar. The hot tub should be tested and possibly treated by the trained pool and spa personnel for bacterial overgrowth. Affected patients may be more prone to recurrences in the future and should be cautious about hot tub use. Although this condition often resolves without treatment, it may be useful to rinse the skin with dilute vinegar.

What is razor burn folliculitis?

Razor-burn folliculitis is very common on the male neck and women’s legs and is caused by shaving. Tiny cuts can appear on the skin by the repetitive passing of the razors. The cuts and the open skin allow bacteria to enter into the skin and cause infection by invading into the deep hair follicles. More inflammation can be caused by the trapping of small hairs beneath the skin surface which may be caused by shaving. Removing hairs by the means of waxing can also cause folliculitis.

You should stop removing hairs by the means of shaving for some time. You can also use antibacterial washes and topical antibiotics. But you should also beware of using steroids creams.

How to treat folliculitis?

The treatments you receive for folliculitis depend on the type and severity of your condition, what self-care measures you’ve already tried and your preferences for treatment. Even if treatment helps, the infection may come back.

Medications for treating folliculitis

Creams or pills to control infection

An antibiotic cream known as mupirocin (bactroban) may be recommended by your doctor for treating mild infections. He may also prescribe you some oral antibiotics which are not daily used for folliculitis in case of severe infections.

Creams, shampoos or pills to fight fungal infections

Pityrosporum folliculitis is a kind of follicutlitis which is caused by yeast and for treating such infections, your doctor may prescribe you antifungals.

Creams or pills to reduce inflammation

If you have mild eosinophilic folliculitis, your doctor may suggest you try a steroid cream. Oral corticosteroids can be prescribed for severe folliculitis.

If you have HIV/AIDS, you may see improvement in your eosinophilic folliculitis symptoms after antiretroviral therapy.

There are some other interventions that are beneficial in treating folliculitis:

Minor Surgery for treating folliculitis

A small incision or cut can be made by your doctor in order to drain the fluid from the large carbuncle or large boil. Inflammation and pain can be reduced by draining the abscess from the carbuncle. Sterile gauze can be used to cover the area to prevent the inflammation.

Light therapy with a medicated cream for folliculitis

When patients that did not seek any help from other treatments of folliculitis, a photodynamic therapy can be used. Such people are found free of folliculitis followed by the photo therapy. However, it is a long term process and can take up to 15 months in treating the condition properly.

Laser hair removal for treating folliculitis

If other treatments fail, laser therapy may clear up the infection. This method is expensive and may require several treatments. It permanently reduces the density of the hair in the treated area. Other possible side effects include discolored skin, scarring and blistering.

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