Folliculitis is inflammation of one or more hair follicles. The condition may occur anywhere on the skin.
Most carbuncles and furuncles and other cases of folliculitis develop from Staphylococcus aureus, this is a bit different from the regular staphylococcus found on the skin – mostly within the nostrils. This S. aureus is a “big name” among all the serious medical conditions, as most of the important skin infections are caused by it.
Folliculitis starts when hair follicles are damaged by friction from clothing, blockage of the follicle, or shaving. In most cases of folliculitis, the damaged follicles are then infected with the bacteria Staphylococcus (staph).
Barber’s itch is a staph infection of the hair follicles in the bearded area of the face, usually the upper lip. Shaving aggravates the condition. Tinea barbae is similar to barber’s itch, but the infection is caused by a fungus.
Pseudofolliculitis barbae is a disorder occurring primarily in men of African descent. If curly beard hairs are cut too short, they may curve back into the skin and cause inflammation.
Iron deficiency anemia is sometimes associated with chronic cases.
Hot tub folliculitis is caused by a bacteria often found in new hot tubs. The folliculitis usually occurs after sitting in a hot tub that was not properly cleaned before use. Symptoms are found around the body parts that sit in the hot tub — typically the legs, hips and buttocks and surrounding areas. Symptoms are typically amplified around regions that were covered by wet clothing, such as bathing suits.
- rash (reddened skin area)
- pimples or pustules located around a hair follicle
- may crust over
- typically occur on neck axilla, or groin area
- may present as genital lesions
- itching skin
- Topical antiseptic treatment is adequate for most cases
- Some patients may benefit from systemic flucloxacillin
- Topical antibiotics such as mupirocin ointment
- Medline Plus (NIH) article on Folliculitis
- Medline Plus (NIH) article on Hot tub folliculitis
- Links to folliculitis pictures (Hardin MD/Univ of Iowa)
- TendSkin, a treatment for ingrown hairs widely reported to be very effective
- Gladwin Medical Blog