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Scalp Folliculitis

Scalp Folliculitis

Folliculitis is the medical term for the infection and inflammation of the hair follicles. This condition can affect the hair and skin on any part of the body, including the scalp. Scalp folliculitis is characterized by the appearance of small, white or yellowish pustules, that resemble acne. The pustules can be quite itchy and painful at times. In severe cases, the development of large and hard bumps on the scalp can lead to scarring and hair loss.
Chandramita Bora
Last Updated: May 30, 2018
The easiest homemade remedy for scalp folliculitis is oatmeal paste, which helps to soothe the itchy and inflamed scalp, although, the solution to this embarrassing problem may vary according to the severity and underlying cause.

Here, we shall have a look at the various causes and symptoms of scalp folliculitis, the relevant treatment options, and also some useful dos and don'ts.
Causes of Scalp Folliculitis
This condition can be caused by several factors, out of which, hair follicle infection caused by bacteria, yeast and mites are the most common factors. Such infections can damage the hair follicles, and cause the development of bumps or pustules on the scalp. This condition can be more common on an oily scalp. Excessive production of sebum, which is the oily secretion of the sebaceous glands, increases the chances of getting a bacterial infection. The bacteria that are frequently found to be responsible for causing scalp folliculitis are Propionibacterium acnes and Staphylococcus aureus.
Apart from bacterial and fungal infections, several other factors too can contribute towards the development of scalp folliculitis.
Excessive sweating
Excessive heat and humidity
Exposure to harsh chemicals
Wearing tight-fitting hats
Individuals with a compromised immune system
Lack of proper hygiene
Excessive use of antibiotics
Patients undergoing cancer treatment
Health problems like diabetes or HIV
Skin conditions like dermatitis and eczema
Noticeable Symptoms
The symptoms of this condition differ according to the type of infection. The indications of folliculitis in general can be of two variants, superficial folliculitis and deep folliculitis.

Superficial Folliculitis
- occurs in the upper part of the hair follicle, and the indications are:
  • Reddened or inflamed skin
  • Sore or small red itchy bumps around the hair follicle
  • Blisters that burst and crust over

Deep Folliculitis - occurs in the deeper portion inside the skin, and the entire hair follicle gets affected. A few of its symptoms are:
  • Inflammation and scarring of the affected area
  • Swollen and red pus-filled pustules

Such large pus-filled pustules can be quite painful, and they can rupture, releasing the pus on the surrounding skin. Small pustules usually heal on their own without causing any scars, but the large pus-filled ones can harden, and sometimes lead to scarring and hair loss.
Hot Tub Folliculitis - This is an infection that is caused when in contact with a bacterium named Pseudomonas aeruginosa. This bacteria lives in moist and warm areas such as a hot tub, spa, etc., which are not chlorinated properly. It is a more severe kind of folliculitis. Though the symptoms of this condition are the same as those of the superficial and deep ones, it may be more painful and immune to treatment.
Treatment Options
For Mild Cases:
  • It usually can be managed with regular cleaning of the scalp, using a mild shampoo.
  • If you have an oily scalp, you can try a zinc-based shampoo, which will help control the production of sebum.
  • Shampoos with salicylic acid, as well as anti-dandruff shampoos with antifungal agents like ketoconazole or ciclopirox, can also help to treat this condition.
  • Try to keep your scalp as clean and oil-free as possible, with the help of regular cleaning and the use of appropriate shampoos.
For Severe Cases:
  • A case of severe and chronic scalp folliculitis can however require the application of appropriate medication, along with regular cleaning or shampooing.
  • Usually, topical antibiotic preparations and mild steroid creams or ointments can help significantly to control the outbreak.
  • Sometimes, the situation may call for the intake of oral antibiotics and oral antihistamine drugs.
  • Whenever a large area of the scalp is affected, or the condition leads to severe infection, be sure to consult your physician. Also talk to him before using any kind of self-medication for the treatment.
Best Available Shampoos:
  • Clear Performance Antibacterial Shampoo
  • Selsun Blue Dandruff Shampoo
  • Klorane Anti-dandruff Treatment Shampoo with Nasturtium Extract
  • Tarsum Shampoo/Gel
  • Head & Shoulders Clinical Strength Dandruff Shampoo
  • L'Occitane Aromachologie Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
  • Alberto VO5 2-in-1 Moisturizing Shampoo
  • Alterna Life Solutions Scalp Therapy Shampoo
A Few Dos and Don'ts
An itchy and flaky scalp, which often leads to folliculitis, can be prevented by keeping a check on one's diet, as it is said that a healthy diet is the road to one's well-being.
Drinking a minimum of 10 - 12 glasses of water everyday would help in flushing out all the toxins from the body.
Lettuce, spinach, and other leafy vegetables should be consumed generously, as they help in improving the condition of the skin.
For improved blood circulation of the scalp, gently combing the hair 8 - 10 times before going to bed is essential. However, make sure that you do not dig your scalp vigorously while combing your hair, as this would elevate the production of sebum, which in turn would increase the chances of an infection.
Avoid sharing personal belongings like towels, combs/brushes, and other hair accessories with other individuals, since this is a highly contagious condition.
Last but not the least, it is important to use only clean towels to dry your hair, and wash your comb from time to time, to maintain personal hygiene.

Most of the time, scalp folliculitis can be managed to some extent by following the aforementioned steps, along with maintaining proper hygiene. However, if the symptoms are severe, and if the entire or a large area of the scalp is affected, then consider taking the help of a trichologist at the earliest.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.