This patient information and photograph on Folliculitis is provided by John L. Meisenheimer, M.D. a board certified Dermatologist and skin care specialist based in Orlando, Florida. This information is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice or treatment of a dermatologist or other physician.
What is it? Folliculitis is an inflammation of the hair follicle. It is a common disorder of the
skin, and it can occur at any age. Typically it appears as an eruption of skin that surrounds a hair or hair pore. Many red bumps or pus bumps are seen. Frequently a hair is seen coming out of the center of an individual bump. Any part of the skin can be involved except for the palms and soles.
What causes it? There are many causes of Folliculitis. The most common causes are from shaving the skin. Common areas for shaving that can result in a Folliculitis are, legs, arms, armpits and pubic area. Shave bumps on the face are considered a different condition see pseudofolliculitis. Physical irritations are a common cause (like friction from sweaty or damp cloths or skin rubbing on skin). Other causes include bacterial or fungal infection of the hair follicle and chemical irritations (contact dermatitis).
It is dangerous? For the typical healthy person Folliculitis is a harmless disorder. It is not related to cancer and it does not involve internal organs.
Can it be cured? This depends on the cause. Generally treatment can clear or control the condition, but elimination of external aggravating factors is the most important aspect of long term control. Recurrence of Folliculitis is frequent and repeat treatment may be needed.
What home care should I use?
- If the area of involvement is in a damp or sweaty area such as under the arms or between the thighs keep the area dry as possible. You may want to blow dry 2-3 times a day.
- Use medicated powder in the area on a daily basis. This helps keep the area dry and reduces frictional pressures. I recommend Zeasorb AF Powder.
- If from shaving the legs, arms or pubic area let the hair grow out for at least 4-6 weeks before trying to reshave. After shaving, sometimes a mild hydrocortisone lotion will help reduce inflammation and itching, you might try Aquanil HC.
- I also recommend trying a body wash with benzoyl peroxide on a daily basis or using Hibiclens wash on the affected areas.
- If these recommendations don't help you may want to consider permanent hair removal see Laser hair removal.
It is contagious? Some forms of bacterial Folliculitis are mildly contagious. Skin to skin contact with others should be avoided until the infection has cleared.
Will it spread? Treatment can often help prevent spread.