Folliculitis – Symptoms, causes and treatment


What is Folliculitis?

Folliculitis is a commonly found skin condition. The hair pockets from which the hair grows are infected. This skin condition is popular. Approximately 10 million cases are recorded in India.

This is usually a self-treatable condition. Tests are rarely required. It is acute in nature, meaning it will resolve in a few days or weeks.

Folliculitis is caused by a fungus infection. They appear as small bumps. These bumps are either red or white coloured. This can spread and develop into a sore, which takes time to heal.

Even though this skin condition is not life-threatening, it makes a person feel embarrassed. It feels itchy and sore. It may cause irreversible hair loss.

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Folliculitis has other names like

  • Hot tub rash
  • Razor bumps
  • Barber’s itch
  • Shaving rash

How can we identify the symptoms of Folliculitis?

The main cause of Folliculitis is the accumulation of bacteria or fungi in the hair follicle.

The symptoms displayed by a person would be directly proportional to the severity of the skin condition. Some common signs and symptoms are:

  • A constellation of small red bumps around hair follicles.
  • Itchy skin
  • Skin burns
  • Tender skin
  • Large patches of skin which may leak pus

What are the types of Folliculitis?

Folliculitis is categorised into two types, namely

  • Superficial Folliculitis and
  • Deep Folliculitis

Super Folliculitis is when only a part of the follicle is damaged. Deep Folliculitis is when the whole follicle is damaged.

These two folliculitides are further classified based on their condition.

Some of the superficial Folliculitis are:

  • Hot tub Folliculitis
  • Bacterial Folliculitis
  • Razor bumps and
  • Pityrosporum Folliculitis

Some of the deep folliculitides include:

  • Sycosis barbae
  • Eosinophilic Folliculitis
  • Gram-negative Folliculitis and
  • Boils and carbuncles

How is Folliculitis diagnosed and treated?

A medical professional would diagnose this skin condition by looking at the skin and asking a few questions. The medical history of the patient is examined.

A doctor won’t suggest a test until he finds out the exact cause of the problem.

The mild version of the Folliculitis would go away without treatment. To deal with the symptoms, we can

  • Clean the infected area with warm water and soap.
  • Use warm saltwater on a cloth and place it on the skin.
  • There are various creams, gels and washes that can be used on the skin. Such creams are specialised to reduce the symptoms of Folliculitis.

If the symptoms are severe and none of the above-mentioned treatments works, you will need medical assistance.

Can Folliculitis be prevented?

To lessen the chances of developing Folliculitis, it is recommended to,

  • Stop shaving for a while. It is better to use a trimmer instead of a regular razor.
  • Avoid wearing clothes that are too tight and potentially irritate the skin.
  • Minimise the use of oils and other greasy products on the skin.
  • Wash the skin with warm water and use a good-quality cleanser.
  • Use a good moisturizing lotion.
  • Dip into pools or hot tubs only if they are well cleaned and maintained.

To sum up

Folliculitis is a skin condition that is commonly found in people. It can be self-treated. It is marked by a group of lumps that are red in colour and cause irritation to the skin.

Such patches on the skin are painful at times. Depending on the severity of the condition and the frequency in which it occurs, it is better to take advice from a medical professional.

The doctor may suggest a few measures and prescribe medications to control the symptoms and treat the skin.

Normally a doctor would recommend a cream, lotion or gel which is developed to treat Folliculitis.

Having a proper self-care regimen would help prevent Folliculitis.

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