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Scalp Folliculitis Causes

Scalp Folliculitis Causes

Scalp Folliculitis is essentially the formation of red bumps on the scalp. Let us discuss the various scalp folliculitis causes, and what is the treatment for the same.
Azmin Taraporewala
Scalp folliculitis is essentially known as barber's itch. They are red bumps that form on the scalp due to various factors. These red bumps are on the spot irritants that make the scalp feel itchy, and abraded. Scalp folliculitis can occur due to reasons that are external in nature. These bumps can be categorized as dormant; that which do not inflict any discomfort or pain; or they may be bumps forming around the hair follicles, accompanied with pus and traces of blood. Scalp folliculitis is by no means a scalp disease, however, when the condition thrives on neglect, it may worsen and may be the prime cause of discomfort.

Scalp folliculitis can be segregated into deep folliculitis and superficial folliculitis. Superficial folliculitis is characterized by inflammation of the hair follicles, resulting in red bumps usually filled with pus. Itchiness and the scalp becoming increasingly sensitive even when touched, are the predominant sensations that one is bound to endure. When we are to discuss deep folliculitis, the distinct features are the large bulb-like bumps that consist of pus. The pus may sprout if the scalp area is exposed to any sort of friction delivered by the use of a comb that has rough and pointed bristles or even due to scratching of the particular scalp area.


The causes of scalp folliculitis can be divided into two categories: (1) Infectious; and (2) Non-infectious. Natural oils produced by the sebaceous glands in excess, may cause the pores or follicles to clog up. Another cause may be the topical application of oils on the scalp. We may often feel that applying oil in excess may boost hair growth, however, this does not hold true. When oil is applied in excess, the pores that are exposed to oil get clogged, thus encouraging the eruption of bumps and pus formation. The other type of folliculitis, called infectious folliculitis, makes way on to the surface due to damage caused by activities such as shaving and friction caused due to rough clothing or injury. It is due to these factors that the pores open, and the bacteria seep in, to cause infection of the scalp. The most predominant cause is a bacterium identified by the name of Staphylococcus aureus. This is a bacterial infection that one may get rid of, after following several treatments in conjunction to personal home remedies and care. Having discussed the cause, we may also discuss the other external factors that may cause scalp folliculitis.

Unhygienic Scalp
Not indulging in the act of rinsing hair on a regular basis, may be the cause of folliculitis. When the scalp remains unattended, debris of dirt and grim settle, which transform into dry or damp dandruff, thereby making the scalp itchy. It is due to this itching that the surface gets abraded, and bump like structures are formed.

Rough Handling of Hair
This may sound too out-of-the-box a reason to be included in causing red bumps on the scalp, however, ironically this is a major reason why bumps erupt in the first place. If you do not possess closely cropped nails and flaunt long manicured ones, you may be surprised as well as perturbed to learn, that your nails are eliciting damage to the scalp. When you scrub your scalp roughly with your nails scratching the scalp surface, your scalp may form layers of dryness becoming coarse, thus increasing the intensity of itching, leading to the formation of red bumps.

Shaving off the hair may cause the pores to open up, thereby inviting dirt and grim. This settles down into the pore and an inflammation occurs, which sprouts into a red bump causing pain. It may also be caused due to the itchy sensation, that the act of shaving derives.

Excessive Perspiration
When you are back from an exercise routine, your scalp becomes oily and attracts debris to settle. It may also be due to the sweat glands becoming overactive producing excess of oils, thereby causing acne like bumps. When we sweat, the pores dilate to release toxins. It is at this point of time that the pores are all the more susceptible to attracting grimace, causing the skin to look inflamed. It may also result in granular, or flaky particles on the scalp known as dandruff. Dandruff causes itchiness and it is due to an irritated scalp that red bumps are formed. Dandruff can be of two types. It could be dry or sticky. However, in case of excessive perspiration, the dandruff can be of the later type. The texture is thus, clumped granules of dandruff flakes.

Acne and Cysts
If you possess a problem-prone skin, or your skin is prone to developing acne and cysts or pustules, it may be possible that the scalp surface also has deeply activated sebaceous glands that make the most of the condition in question, and pose a threat to the scalp's health.

There have been times that scalp folliculitis has been confused with the disorder called scalp psoriasis. One may say that there is a thin line of difference between the two disorders which lies in the pain that is inflicted through the bump. In scalp psoriasis, there is no pain, only itchiness and discomfort abound, whereas in scalp folliculitis, pain, itchiness and bumps on and beyond the hairline occur.


Treatment could include use of shampoos that have Triclosan and Azelaic acid, that may help treat the condition. Also, shampoos that have ketoconazole or ciclopirox may prove helpful, as they possess antifungal agents that fight against dandruff, and other scalp irritants. You may or may not use a conditioner, post your shampoo session, however, if your hair is extremely dry, prone to breakage or you have been advised by the dermatologist to use the conditioner solution for your hair, you may go ahead and do so. Thus, these shampoos relieve an infected and irritated scalp making the scalp healthier, thereby releasing the obstruction on hair growth. Topical treatments such as application of oils or popping oral pills, can also be administered to counter folliculitis. An antibiotic course and fusidic acid ointment are also some helpful remedies to get rid of the disorder. When the symptoms have lessened and one is relieved considerably of the pain and discomfort, wash clothes, bedding and other linen with which your scalp establishes direct contact, in order to disinfect, and sanitize the condition.

These were some of the major causes, and the treatment options available. Whenever you adopt a line of treatment, make sure that you consult a dermatologist for the same. Negligence on your behalf may spell disaster for your scalp and your hair.