What it is–Folliculitis is inflammation caused by an infection of a follicle or follicles. Follicles are spaces from which hair emerges from the skin.
What Causes it–it is usually caused by bacterial or less commonly by a fungal infection. Staphylococcus aureus is a bacteria that normally lives in the skin of healthy people. Sometimes it can become overgrown and cause folliculitis. This can cause small white bumps that can itch. They usually heal spontaneously, but when extensive, antibiotic ointment or even oral antibiotics may be needed.
Pseudomonas is a type of bacteria found in hot tubs and heated swimming pools, and can cause folliculitis consisting of red, round, itchy bumps a day or two after exposure. This condition is, not surprisingly, called hot tub folliculitis.
Pseudofolliculitis barbae, razor bumps, or barber’s itch, is actually ingrown hairs caused by shaving or waxing curly hairs. This can produce scars, or keloids. Pityrosporum folliculitis is caused by a yeast infection. It manifests as chronic red, itchy pustules, typically on the chest and back, or on the neck, face, shoulders, and upper arms.
Treatment–Mild cases usually heal spontaneously in about 2 weeks. A warm, moist compress can be applied for comfort.
Cases that cover a wide area or do not clear in a few days can cause scarring and hair loss. Prescription antibiotics and antifungals are sometimes needed. Cleocin (clindamycin) 1% gel or lotion may be prescribed to be applied twice a day for 7 to 10 days. Keflex (cephalexin) can be taken by mouth at a dose of 250 to 500 mg 3 to 4 times a day for 7 to 10 days. Fungal infections can be treated with Diflucan (fluconazole) 100 to 200 mg taken orally for 2 to 3 weeks, then 200 mg monthly for maintenance, or with Sporanox (itraconazole) 200 mg by mouth daily for 1 week.
Did you know? QuickMD can treat folliculitis in the comfort and convenience of your home. Our physicians can write online prescriptions for clindamycin or any other antibiotic or antifungal needed to treat extensive folliculitis. We recommend an online video visit for that, so our doctors can take a closer look at the affected area.