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What is Folliculitis?

Folliculitis is a common skin ailment caused due to the inflammation  of the hair follicle. It's frequently brought on by a bacterial infection. Initially, the little pits where each hair has grown may appear to be little blisters (hair follicles) which can be uncomfortable, painful, and unpleasant. Crusty sores may develop as the infection spreads. Don’t worry, with simple self-care, minor folliculitis can probably cure leaving no scars within a matter of days. However, you may require prescription medication for more acute or recurring infections. Serious infections that go untreated can cause scarring and irreversible hair loss. Learn more about the causes and treatment for folliculitis in the article below.

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What Is Folliculitis?

Skin problems are often not taken seriously by most people at the beginning, but can often result in serious conditions such as folliculitis. Folliculitis occurs when your follicles or the skin cavities from which your hair grows get infected or inflamed. Follicles are present everywhere on your body except where hair doesn't grow, which includes the soles of your feet, palms and your lips. The condition may first appear as bumps on your skin, which could become bigger and get filled with pus.

Folliculitis

Image Source: Medical News Today

Symptoms of Folliculitis

Initially, folliculitis appears as small bumps on your skin, which seem relatively harmless. They could seem like a bunch of red bumps or even like yellow-tipped pimples. As these spread to nearby hair follicles, they may progress to crusty sores.

There are several folliculitis symptoms you can watch out for. Read what they are below.

  • Red bumps that are small in size
  • Pimples that are white or yellow-headed
  • Sores filled with pus
  • Sores that are crusty
  • Skin that is red
  • Skin that is inflamed
  • Itching on parts of your body
  • Burning sensation on your body
  • Tenderness or soreness in certain areas of your body
  • Pain in your body
  • Swelling on the body
  • Mild fever could occur in cases of extremely folliculitis

Causes of Folliculitis

There are several ways you can contract folliculitis. Read on below to learn the different causes of contracting folliculitis.

  • Shaving can often give rise to folliculitis, which is why it is important to use good quality razors
  • Tying your hair into tight braids can cause a pull on your skin, and cause folliculitis
  • Wearing tight clothing often
  • Ingrown hairs are a common cause of folliculitis
  • Personal hygiene products that may result in the follicles being irritated may end up causing folliculitis
  • Substances such as oil and tar that we commonly encounter on Indian roads are also a potential hazard to folliculitis
  • Injuries caused by cuts or insect bites to the skin may also result in folliculitis
  • Exposure to an unclean swimming pool or hot tub
  • Cuts or wounds which get infected can also give rise to folliculitis
  • If your immune system has become weak due to conditions like HIV or cancer, it makes you more susceptible to folliculitis
  • Being overweight or obese also poses risks of contracting folliculitis
  • Antibiotics or steroid creams, if used for a long time, can give rise to folliculitis

Types of Folliculitis

There are several types of folliculitis. While some are superficial, others can be quite deep. Deep folliculitis conditions can give rise to serious issues, however, some superficial conditions can be harmful too.

Read on to learn the different types of superficial folliculitis and deep folliculitis.

1. Superficial Folliculitis:

  • Bacterial Folliculitis: this type primarily shows up as itchy pus-filled pimples, which are caused by a staph infection.
  • Pseudofolliculitis barbae: Caused by ingrown hairs, this condition may occur in the genital area
  • Pseudonomas Folliculitis: caused by the bacteria pseudomonas, this condition is primarily contracted through exposure to swimming pools and hot tubs where pH balance and chlorine levels are not being adequately monitored
  • Pityrosporum Folliculitis: most commonly shows up on the face and upper body, and usually of young adults and adult males.

2. Deep Folliculitis:

  • Sycosis barbae: can lead to permanent hair loss and scarring
  • Boils: caused by the staph bacteria, these can lead to swollen pus-filled boils that are extremely painful and can ultimately also lead to scarring
  • Gram-negative Folliculitis: acne-afflicted persons who have long been undergoing antibiotic treatment are likely to contract this since antibiotics often end up affecting the skin’s bacterial balance.
  • Eosinophilic Folliculitis: this condition is most likely to occur in people with low levels of immunity caused due to cancer or HIV, and the symptoms can be recurrent and intense wherein they cause hyperpigmentation.

Diagnosis Of Folliculitis

Folliculitis can be diagnosed by a doctor, who will physically examine the condition and review the patient history in detail. A swab could be taken in order to determine the kind of bacteria that has caused the condition to appear.

You should consult a doctor in case:

  1. Folliculitis symptoms persist for more than a couple of days
  2. If the condition is widespread

Folliculitis Treatment

Most types of folliculitis can be cured through the use of an antibiotic or by application of antifungal medication.

  • Folliculitis treatment can be facilitated through antibiotic creams, oral antibiotics, antifungal creams and shampoos, steroid creams, and oral antifungals and corticosteroids.
  • Light or photodynamic therapy is also emerging as a folliculitis treatment option
  • Doctors may make small incisions to drain the pus, and the process is called lancing
  • Laser therapy to remove the hair follicles can cure the condition

Folliculitis Home Remedies

  • Warm Compresses:
    Warm compresses can help reduce itching and also help with drawing out pus. This can also be achieved by applying a cloth which has been heated.
  • Mild Soaps:
    Gently washing the affected area using a mild soap helps reduce the infection. It is imperative that the soap be mild since soaps usually contain chemicals that can otherwise cause harm to the skin if it made up of harsh chemicals that can react dangerously and make the infection worse.
  • Sanitise:
    Make sure that your hands are clean and any cloth you apply to the area is clean as well. Not ensuring the cleanliness can result in further infections or other damage.
  • Hot Baths:
    Bathing in a tub of warm water can also bring substantial relief to the person suffering from folliculitis since hot water relieves pain in a range of conditions.

Prevention of Folliculitis

There are several ways by which you can prevent the occurrence of folliculitis. Read on to learn more about them.

  1. Let Follicles Breathe:
    Avoid wearing tight clothes which cause discomfort and may cause friction with follicles. The follicles need to have the space to breathe comfortably and not be restricted by tight clothes, which can make the folliculitis significantly worse.
  2. Avoid Shaving:
    Shave carefully or avoid it altogether if you can. Shaving can brush against the follicles harshly and make existing folliculitis worse or even result in folliculitis if the person doesn’t already suffer from it.
  3. Sanitisation Measures:
    Make sure to only use clean tubs and access clean swimming pools. Unhygienic settings are always cautioned against since they make folliculitis much worse.

Conclusion

Folliculitis may not be a dangerous condition, but it can cause a significant amount of harm if proper precautions and measures are not taken. Medical costs are rising tremendously on a regular basis, in line with high inflation levels and advanced technological advancements in the sector. It is essential to remain protected against unexpected medical emergencies with comprehensive health insurance.

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