Types of Folliculitis


The Basics...

All of the hair on the body grows from small pores, or follicles and follicles appear everywhere on the body except the palms, soles of the feet and where there are mucous membranes, such as the lips.  Between the skin and the muscle of the body, there are glands which produce oil to lubricate the skin and coat hair shafts.  Tiny ducts carry the oil to the follicles and skin, although there are times when these follicles become plugged or irritated creating a condition called folliculitis.

The evidence of folliculitis may differ with the type of infection.  Some symptoms appear as red bumps, blisters or larger swollen masses filled with pus and still others may be small bumps with itchiness and swelling.  There are different types of superficial folliculitis including the very common Staphylococcal folliculitis which is presented by itchy, pus-filled bumps which can appear anywhere on the body.  Staphylococcal aureus bacteria infect hair follicles and these bumps appear.  A topical or oral antibiotic usually addresses the situation effectively.

Different Names, Same Basic Bacteria

Pseudomonas folliculitis, or hot tub folliculitis actually thrives in many environments, including hot tubs in which the chlorine and pH levels are not regulated well.  Usually a red, itchy rash of small round bumps appears and they may become pus-filled.  This often goes away without special treatment; however, in some cases a doctor may prescribe an antibiotic cream to address the itching and inflammation.

Men with curly beards are particularly afflicted with pseudofolliculitis barbae, an inflammation of the follicles in the area where the beard grows.  Shaved hairs curl back into the skin causing red bumps and inflammation.  The easiest way to treat this is to develop shaving methods that include warming the beard sufficiently before shaving and ensuring the face is cleansed well afterward.

If a cold sore is present, shaving over it can open the blister and cause it to spread the herpes infection - which is most often the cause of cold sores - to other follicles.  Herpetic folliculitis may clear without treatment, but if HIV/AIDS is present, or there are frequent appearances of cold sores, an oral antiviral medication may be prescribed by the doctor.

Most frequently seen in HIV positive people, eosinophilic folliculitis presents as recurring areas of sores which are inflamed and pus-filled.  These itchy sores usually spread and leave dark stained skin in their wake.  Topical corticosteroids are most frequently the treatment used by medical professionals and seem to work well.