Folliculitis, or inflammation of the hair follicles, is a non life-threatening condition caused by bacterial or fungal infection. This type of infection is commonly found on parts of the body that are hair-bearing, such as the face and scalp and can lead to hair loss.
Anyone can develop folliculitis. This condition manifests as pustules around the affected hair follicles, can be itchy and sore, and at times the pustules can spread and turn into crusty sores. Folliculitis can be superficial or deep (involving the upper portion or whole follicle respectively), and can be of different subtypes depending on the bacteria or fungus causing the inflammation.
The severity and cause of inflammation determines the level of care and treatment needed. Signs and symptoms are inflammation, redness, itchiness, or tenderness of the skin. Early treatment will prevent the spread of infection, damage to the skin, such as scarring or dark spots, or destruction of the hair follicles which will cause permanent hair loss.
Risk factors that make us more susceptible to folliculitis include
Having a medical condition that reduces ones resistance to infection
The overproduction of sebum
Having acne or dermatitis
Taking some medications, such as steroid creams or long-term antibiotic therapy for acne
Regularly wearing clothing that traps heat and sweat
Soaking in a hot tub that's not maintained well
Causing damage to hair follicles by shaving, waxing or wearing tight clothing
In mild conditions a physical examination and clinical assessment are adequate to begin treatment. Additionally, your trichologist may do a microscopic examination. Mild conditions usually clear within seven to 10 days. In severe cases a biopsy of the skin or hair is sent to the laboratory to determine the cause of infection followed by treatment.
Treatment can range from the use of medications, having laser treatments, or minor surgery. For bacterial infections, antibiotic creams, lotions, or pills may be prescribed.
For fungal infections anti-fungal creams, shampoos, or pills are required to fight infection. If minor surgery is required to drain a large boil, your doctor will make a small incision to drain the pus. This procedure relieves pain, speeds up recovery, and helps to prevent scarring.
When performing self-care, the use of warm compresses and anti-itch creams can be helpful in relieving signs and symptoms. Avoid scratching the bumps on the scalp or skin, and seek medical advice if the infection or inflammation persists.