Folliculitis is a common skin disorder characterized by multiple red bumps and pustules in hair baring areas. Lesions can appear anywhere on the body except for the palms and soles. While usually self-resolving, folliculitis may require a prescription for severe cases.
Folliculitis is often asymptomatic, but can occasionally cause itching, burning, or pain.
Folliculitis represents an inflamed/infected hair follicle. The most common cause of the infection is Staph aureus bacteria, although yeast can cause folliculitis as well. Infection typically occurs after a hair follicle has been damaged, allowing easy access for bacteria or yeast. Common causes of damage to hair follicles include heat, sweat/friction, tight fitting clothing, shaving, and hot tub use.
Initial treatment of folliculitis includes warm compresses 2-3 times per day. Certain antibacterial soaps including Dial®, Hibiclens® wash or a benzoyl peroxide wash can be helpful, though can irritate the skin. For more severe cases, topical or even oral antibiotics can be used.
For folliculitis in areas that are shaved, make sure to change out your razor every week. Prior to shaving, try soaking the affected areas in warm water to soften the hairs. Never shave against the grain of hair growth as this causes more trauma to follicles.
Folliculitis will typically resolve on its own, but typically requires days to weeks for full resolution. For more persistent of severe cases, antibiotics can help resolve folliculitis faster. There is no permanent “cure” for folliculitis, and lesions will often recur if the offending triggers are still present. Prevention is just as important as treatment.