What Is Folliculitis?
Folliculitis is a relatively common inflammation of the hair follicles – the tiny holes from which hair grows. Rashes caused by this infection appear as small red or white bumps, which may be mildly painful or itchy.
There are various types of folliculitis: hot tub rash, razor bumps and barber's itch. This condition often affects the thighs, legs, arms, and buttocks. However, it can occur anywhere on the skin or scalp. Mild inflammation mostly lasts for between seven to 10 days. However, after the rashes are gone, you might see dark marks from scarring. These should go away with time. Another commonality with folliculitis is that the rash usually turns into non-healing crusty sores.
Causes of Folliculitis
Folliculitis has several causes and risk factors. The inflammation usually stems from a bacterial infection. Common triggers for this include:
- Ingrown hairs: This can happen after shaving. As the hair regrows, it may curl into the skin and irritate.
- Friction from tight clothing: This occurs when you chafe your skin against tight clothing.
- Blocked follicles: This may arise from using thick moisturizers, medicines, braces, tight bandages, sportswear, tar, motor oil or casts.
- Excessive sweating: Sweat or personal products can irritate the follicle.
- Long-term use of some medications, including antibiotics or steroid creams.
- Some skin conditions, such as dermatitis or acne.
- Skin injuries, including cuts or insect bites.
- Using an unclean hot tub or swimming pool.
- A weakened immune system caused by certain medical conditions, such as HIV or cancer.
The symptoms vary, depending on the type of folliculitis you suffer from and how bad it is. Initially, folliculitis may appear as a common rash, a patch of small red bumps or whitish-tipped pimples. With time, the inflammation can spread to nearby hair follicles and result in more crusty sores.
Other symptoms include:
- Mild fever
- Burning, inflamed skin
- Itchy, tender, painful skin
Even though this skin condition is not life-threatening, it can cause the following complications:
- Boils under your skin
- Infections that spread to other areas
- Cellulitis (infection of the skin)
- Permanent hair loss due to follicle damage
- Recurrent follicle infections
- Permanent skin damage
- Destruction of hair follicles
You can use the following tips to prevent folliculitis:
- Avoid wearing tight clothes
- Use only heated pools and clean hot tubs
- Avoid shaving, if possible
- Shave with care if necessary
- Dry out your rubber gloves between uses
- Considering hair-removing products (depilatories)
When to See a Dermatologist
Depending on the severity of your situation and how often your folliculitis occurs, you should see your dermatologist. You may use an appropriate antibacterial ointment or a body wash with chlorhexidine. For more information about folliculitis and other skin diseases, contact Dermatology Consultants of Frisco.