Folliculitis is a very common skin rash often found on the scalp, chest, back, arms, legs, buttocks, and cheeks that is caused by a bacterial infection involving the hair follicles. The condition can be barely noticeable without any symptoms or excruciatingly painful depending upon the severity of the condition. At times, the follicles become so infected that they advance to the abscess or carbuncle stage creating a boil like lesion on the skin that can cause it to be difficult to sit or tolerate clothing touching the area.
What causes folliculitis?
There are several common causes.
- Bacterial infection. This often is the case with people who live in hot humid climates with excessive sweating and occlusion leading to infection on the pressure areas of the body. Workers who wear hard hats and helmets and perspire a lot will frequently find themselves bothered by this condition. A special type of folliculitis occurs when you use hot tubs and pools that may harbor various bacteria that can infect the hair follicles causing folliculitis.
- Dry itchy scalp or skin on the body areas when scratched, can create open areas that can become secondarily infected with bacteria causing folliculitis. If your skin is very dry you may not slough off the dead skin cells properly. This build up of dead skin may block the pores causing the little red bumps or pustules. Individuals with a hereditary condition causing goose pimple like changes on the arms, or thighs can be especially prone to this condition.
- Improper shaving techniques. If you shave too closely or in the wrong direction it can cause ingrown hairs and infected follicles. Many individuals think that when these bumps occur after haircuts or shaving that the clippers or shaver is dirty, but it is really due to the fact that the shaving devices or clippers are very short and cause nicks that make it easier for the skin to get infected.
- Hygiene. If the body is not kept clean it can aid the growth of bacteria causing folliculitis. This can be a problem for individuals who participate in sports or workout and experience a delay between the time they finish working out and they are able to get to a shower or bathing facility.
How to treat folliculitis.
Many times, the infected hair follicles will clear up on their own and no treatment is necessary. The regular use of antibacterial body scrubs, bar soap, and shampoos can make this condition less likely. If the bumps or tenderness does not go away within a few days, some over the counter antibacterial washes or topical antibiotic creams may be helpful in clearing it up. Benzyl peroxide washes are particularly good for treating persistent folliculitis. However, if the skin becomes red, swollen, painful or hot to the touch you should seek medical attention as the infection has spread into the surrounding tissues or advanced to the point where you will need oral antibiotics to treat the infection.
4 Steps to eliminate infected hair follicles.
- If your folliculitis is a result of hot tubs, try using an antibacterial wash after getting out of the tub. This will kill the bacteria before it has a chance to cause problems for you. Also, make sure that the hot tub has proper chlorination.
- Use proper shaving techniques. You should always shave in the direction the hair grows and never against the grain of your hair. For ladies, this means shaving your legs downward instead of upward. Replace your razor blade often and do not shave too closely.
- If you are prone to folliculitis, you should shower rather than bathe. If soaking in a hot tub is one of life’s pleasures to you, you should shower first to remove the bacteria from your body and then soak in the tub.
- If the problem persists and continues to be bothersome see your dermatologist. Sometimes the folliculitis will only go away with appropriate internal antibiotic therapy.
Following these steps will help you to eliminate this bothersome problem should you ever experience it.