Folliculitis (infection of the hair follicle)

Skin | Dermatology | Folliculitis (infection of the hair follicle) (Disease)


Folliculitis is the term used to describe any inflammation of one or more hair follicles anywhere in the skin. The disorder is caused by damage to the follicles, by a blocked follicle, by shaving, or by friction caused by clothing, helmet straps, and the like. Hair follicles in the neck, groin, or genital area are particularly susceptible to inflammation. The damaged follicle is most frequently infected with staphylococcal bacteria when infection is present.

Symptoms of folliculitis include a rash with red bumps that resemble acne. Bumps may contain pus and be painful. Other symptoms include ingrown hairs and itching. Rash is usually worse on the back, buttocks, face, thighs, and other areas that are shaved.

Causes and Risk factors

Folliculitis is a basic problem with inflammation of hair follicles. This inflammation may be caused by simple irritation, infections like bacteria and yeasts, or other noninfectious skin conditions.

The bumps arise from the inflammation at the small hair follicles. Sometimes there are common skin bacteria (such as Staphylococcus or Pseudomonas) infecting the follicles. The upper skin layers may have some dilation of the small superficial blood vessels, thereby giving the skin a red or flushed appearance.

Overall, diet does not seem to affect folliculitis. Some studies have evaluated a potential association of drinking milk with acne and possibly folliculitis. Vitamin A deficiency may cause similar symptoms to folliculitis.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Home therapy for mild cases of bacterial folliculitis includes use of an over-the-counter antibacterial wash like benzoyl peroxide, chlorhexidine, or Phisoderm twice a day. The best results may be achieved with combination therapy using topical products and antibacterial washes. ...