Folliculitis is defined as the infection of the hair follicles. This article provides some information about the treatment for this condition, which can affect people of all ages.
Folliculitis is a condition, wherein the hair follicles get infected. It can affect one or more hair follicles, and can occur in any part of the body, where there is hair. However, the most commonly affected parts are the face, scalp, and the back. Areas, like thighs and groin, are also prone to this condition, as they are subjected to friction caused by clothing.
Primarily, folliculitis affects hair follicles which are damaged. Such damage can be caused by friction from clothes or jewelry, by shaving or waxing, insect bites, and blockage by dust, sweat, or oil. These damaged hair follicles are infected by bacteria, causing folliculitis. Sometimes, yeast or other types of fungus or virus can also cause this condition.
Types and Symptoms
The symptoms of folliculitis vary with the type of infection. Basically, this condition can be classified into superficial and deep ones. Superficial folliculitis affects the upper part of the hair follicles; and causes symptoms, like small red bumps, inflammation, itching, and tenderness. There can be pustules, that may break, releasing pus and blood. Deep folliculitis starts from the deeper parts, and gradually affects the entire follicle. This type of infection is characterized by large bumps, which can be swollen and painful. In this case too, pus-filled blisters may develop. There is a possibility of scarring, in this type of folliculitis. These two basic types are further classified into various sub-types.
Superficial folliculitis includes pseudomonas folliculitis or hot tub folliculitis, staphylococcal folliculitis, pseudofolliculitis barbae, and pityrosporum folliculitis. This classification is based on the type of causal agents such as bacteria and fungi. Herpetic folliculitis is caused by herpes simplex virus. Deep folliculitis includes eosinophilic folliculitis, gram-negative folliculitis, boils, and carbuncles. While some forms of folliculitis subside without any treatment; there are certain types, which may clear up with treatment, and recur.
In most cases, bacteria is found to be the causative agent for folliculitis. Some types of virus and fungi may also cause folliculitis. While the condition subsides without any medicine, in mild cases; others require proper treatment, to prevent its spread and recurrence. If left untreated, severe folliculitis may lead to cellulitis skin infection, destruction of hair follicles and bald patches, furunculosis and scarring.
Home remedies are recommended for mild cases only. Wash the area with a mild anti bacterial soap, and apply some antibiotic ointment. Avoid shaving the area, till the symptoms subside. Never share personal belongings, like towels and combs. Application of warm compresses is found to be beneficial for relieving the discomfort caused by the condition, and to drain out the bumps.
If the condition is severe and persistent, medical attention is needed. The mode of treatment is decided according to the type and severity of infection. If the causal agent is bacteria, as in case of staphylococcal folliculitis, treatment includes oral antibiotics and antibiotic ointments. In case of fungal infection, antifungal medicines are given, for oral use and topical application. Hot tub folliculitis is treated with ointments to relieve itching, and there is no need of any specific treatment for this type of infection. Treatment is not necessary for infections caused by virus, as they may subside on their own. However, in case of immunocompromised people, antiviral medication is administered. Boils and carbuncles are sometimes drained through small incisions. In such cases, antibiotics may be administered to avoid infection. Eosinophilic folliculitis is often treated with topical corticosteroids, but severe cases may need oral medication.
If you notice any of the folliculitis symptoms, it is better to consult a dermatologist, and get the condition diagnosed. If the doctor feels that treatment is needed, you must follow his instructions, to prevent complications and possible recurrence.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.