Folliculitis is an infection of the hair follicle that is most commonly bacterial, but can occasionally be caused by a yeast. It can be either superficial in the follicle or deep in the skin. The infection typically appears as small red bumps that surround the hair follicle. In some cases, the bumps may be filled with pus. Superficial staphylococcal folliculitis is quite common and is seen in people of all ages. It is probably more common in those who have eczema and diabetes. You might see it on your face, scalp, upper trunk, buttocks, or as a sty on your eyelids. Deeper staphylococcal folliculitis is uncommon and may be seen as boil-like lesions in diabetics. Deep lesions are frequently seen infected by Methicillin resistant staph aureus (MRSA). There is also a condition called sycosis, which is a pustular folliculitis, particularly in the bearded area of men. Mild cases of folliculitis generally clear up on their own and don’t require treatment. However, more serious cases should be examined by a doctor to determine an appropriate treatment method.

Common features of folliculitis depend on the type:

Superficial Folliculitis

  • Small red pustules that surround the hair follicle Inflammation and redness Itchiness.

Deep Folliculitis

  • Large puss-filled nodules
  • Blisters that may rupture and leak
  • Pain Scarring

The infection is primarily caused by a type of bacteria called staphylococcus aureus. Other causes include excessive sweating or adhesive materials that obstruct the hair follicles, acne and dermatitis, injury to the skin and exposure to agents such as coal tar. Improper shaving techniques or using dirty razors can expose your skin to bacteria, which can lead to infection.

Good skin care is essential when treating folliculitis. Use antibacterial soaps to keep your skin clean and to prevent infection. Use an exfoliating scrub to remove any excess dead skin cells, which may clog pores and trap bacteria. Avoid harsh astringents or aftershaves that contain alcohol, which may dry out and irritate the skin. Make sure to keep the skin adequately hydrated with a quality moisturizer.

Although there is no sure-fire method for preventing folliculitis, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of infection. For starters, frequent and thorough hand washing is advised. Adjusting your shaving methods can often help prevent the introducing or spreading bacteria into your skin. If you use a razor, make sure to use a light touch and never stretch the skin while shaving. Look for multi-blade razors (from 2 to 5 blades) with an indicator strip that lets you know when to replace them. The indicator strips often contain moisturizers that help to soothe just-shaved areas. The condition of your blades is essential for achieving close and clean shaves that will not promote infections. Avoid wearing tight fitting or constricting clothing, which can rub against the skin and aggravate the hair follicles. Wear clothing that is loose fitting and made from soft materials such as cotton or linen.

Over-the-counter moisturizing preparations that include topical antibiotics have proven to be helpful in controlling inflammation caused by folliculitis.

A doctor may prescribe topical antibiotics such as Bacitracin or mupirocin cream or ointment (Bactroban) or fusidic acid (Fucidin) to treat staphylococcal folliculitis.

  • Antibacterial Cleansers
  • Fusidic Acid
  • Mupirocin
  • Oral Antibiotics