What Is Folliculitis?

Folliculitis is a an infection of the hair follicles. It may cause itching and extreme discomfort, and in some cases it can be painful. Additionally, it may cause hair loss or growth alteration in the hair. Folliculitis can be superficial or deep; depending on how deep the infection is and how much of the hair follicle is affected.

Causes Of Folliculitis

Folliculitis may be caused by a variety of agents, including bacteria, viruses, fungi and certain chemical agents. The most common causes of superficial folliculitis are due to bacterial and fungal infections, while viruses are responsible for most cases of deep folliculitis.

Symptoms Of Folliculitis

Signs of folliculitis can be quite diverse, depending on the type of folliculitis and the causing agent. In its most common form, a series of acne-like pimples appear, usually with a hair coming out of its center. In some cases, these pimples are surrounded by a reddish, inflamed area. The pimple may contain pus and may crust over. Itching is very common (sometimes very intense), although this is not a characteristic symptom. Pain is uncommon, except for some cases of deep folliculitis that affect large areas of the skin.

Superficial folliculitis may show these symptoms: red, pus-filled, itchy bumps (hot-tub folliculitis); white, uncomfortable lumps in skin areas that are shaved (Barber’s itch folliculitis as well as Tinea Barbae, this last one also causes reddened skin and fever); red, itchy pustules on the back, face, neck, upper arms and chest (pytyrosporum folliculitis), and others.

Deep folliculitis is usually more serious, as it affects the entire hair follicle rather than just a part of it. Symptoms may include: severe skin lesions, fever, pain, intensive itch, pus-filled blisters (up to the size of a golf ball), scars, recurring patches of pus-filled sores (mainly on HIV-infected people), and others.

Treatment Of Folliculitis

Treatment of folliculitis must be based in the type of causing agent and the severity of the lesions involved. Although most folliculitis (specially superficial folliculitis) subside and go away on their own, antibiotics, anti-fungal ointments, refreshing powders and other medicines are usually administered to control the symptoms.

Prevention Of Folliculitis

Prevention of folliculitis consists on avoiding or limiting the conditions that can induce bacterial or fungal proliferation. Regularly cleaning the bath-tub and keeping the skin dry and clean can prevent folliculitis, as well as using adequate lubricants and using brand new blades when shaving.

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