Folliculitis is either infection or irritation occurring within hair follicles in the skin. Infection can occur with either bacteria or yeast. The infection commonly spreads to other areas, especially with shaving, and therefore is often found on the beard area in men or legs and armpit area in women. An irritation or acne-like folliculitis is typically found on the chest, back or shoulders. This type of folliculitis is often triggered by excessive heat and sweating with occlusion of the skin surface by tight, wet clothing. Other forms of folliculitis can be caused by application of greasy or oily substances to the skin.
Skin lesions usually appear as small red raised bumps, either solid or coming to a head filled with yellow pus. There may be associated itching or even pain if a deep boil develops. The skin lesions can heal with color changes or even small permanent scars, especially if they have been excessively scratched or picked.
If the folliculitis is caused by infection, it is treated with antibiotics or anti-yeast medications. Irritant or acne-like folliculitis is managed with anti-inflammatory antibiotics and topical benzoyl peroxide lotions along with measures to decrease trapping of sweat again the skin. This would include wear of loose fitting cotton clothing and avoiding hot humid environments. Some cases of folliculitis continuously recur and require long-term preventative treatments, such as use of antibacterial soaps daily (e.g. PanOxyl bar from Stieffel labs). With proper treatment, folliculitis should be easily controlled.
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