Is an infected hair follicle causing a swollen bump of pain? Folliculitis is a general term used for any hair follicle infection. There are numerous causes for this infection and the cure depends on the cause. Severe cases of folliculitis can cause hair loss and scarring, so in some follicle situations prompt treatment is important to avoid these outcomes.
Your hair follicles’ primary function involves body temperature control and skin lubrication. Once a hair follicle is damaged, they have an increased likelihood of being invaded by viruses, bacteria or fungi. In many cases, this invasion is evidenced by a small, white pimple cropping up around an overwhelmed follicle. And this site may itch and be painful.
Some common causes for follicular damage include:
- skin injuries
- tight clothes
- dermatitis and acne
- excessive perspiration
- coal tar, pitch, creosote exposure
- covering skin with non-breathable material
Most folliculitis are superficial, and oftentimes the infection clears within a few days. However, there are some causes in which an infected hair follicle is deep or recurring, thus needing more intense medical treatment. Signs of superficial folliculitis usually cause symptoms of a follicle in distress by:
- clusters of small red bumps
- pus filled blisters that break open & crust over
Let’s have a look at the various conditions that can possibly be upsetting your hair follicle.
Staphylococcal folliculitis is a very common superficial staph bacterial infection causing itchy, white, pus bumps that can occur in any skin follicle. It’s known as barber’s itch when infecting male beard areas. Staph bacteria is present on your skin all the time, but typically only cause problems when entry opportunities are available. For example via cuts with shaving or skin injuries. Staphylococcal folliculitis treatment is generally topical antibiotic, but severe cases may require the stronger oral prescription. For infected shavers, always use a clean razor blade, or electric razor, at least until your infection clears.
Pseudomonas folliculitis, aka hot tub folliculitis, is caused by bacteria that thrives in a broad range of environments, an unregulated hot tub for one. This bacteria makes an appearance via a red, round, itchy, bumpy rash, that develops into small pussy blister or pustule. Your rash may be noticeably worse those skin areas that have with contact with your swimsuit. Hot tub folliculitis treatment rarely requires specific treatment, although you may want to use anti itch topical cream or one of these natural “knock back an itch” remedies:
- aloe vera
- neem tree oil
- baking soda or oatmeal bath
Tinea barbae, or ringworm infection, is caused by a fungus, that develops in the beard area. It causes itchy, white bumps surrounded by reddened skin. More severe cases may involve pussy nodules, that become crusty, along with a potential for swollen lymph nodes and fever. Tinea barbae treatment with is with over-the-counter fungal creams or lotions containing terbinafine, clotrimazole or miconazole. But because this type of infected hair follicle is extremely difficult to get rid of totally, so an oral antifungal prescription medication may be necessary. Couple natural home care solutions:
- tea tree oil
- cider vinegar & water
Pseudofolliculitis barbae is inflammation of the hair follicles caused by an ingrown beard hair. In some rare cases, after hair removal you can be left with a keloid scar. Pseudofolliculitis barbae treatment is typically avoid shaving during serious breakouts, or shaving with an electric razor. Blade usage recommendation is to massage beard area with a warm, moist cloth in an effort to lift the hairs away from skin for efficient cutting.
Pityrosporum folliculitis is caused by a yeast fungus and is a common chronic, red, itchy pustule condition. Break outs are regularly seen on the back and chest areas. Topical or oral antifungal drugs are the most effective treatments for this infected hair follicle. Regular topical use of fungal creams may be necessary to prevent this condition from recurring. Antibiotics do nothing for this follicle infection and could cause more harm than good by throwing your natural skin bacteria out of balance. Natural remedy suggestions are the same as tinea barbae recommends.
Herpetic folliculitis is caused by shaving through a cold sore, which has the potential to spread herpes simplex virus to nearby hair follicles. Herpetic folliculitis clears without treatment in healthy adults, annoying you for a short couple of weeks, ugh. HIV/AIDS sufferers may be prescribed oral antivirals, such as acyclovir, famciclovir or valacyclovir, for frequent outbreaks. Unfortunately, these are not brought to you without potential side effects, like:
Next up deep folliculitis, to which an infection attacks the entire hair follicle, causing :
- large swollen bump/mass
Deep folliculitis has the potential to leave you with an “after infection”scar, and this is their stories.
Gram-negative folliculitis is a deep overgrowth of harmful bacteria, which on rare occasions manifests itself after long-term antibiotic treatments, commonly for acne. Oddly enough, its usual treatment is more antibiotics or isotretinoin.
Boils and carbuncles occur when hair follicles become deeply infected with staph bacteria. A boil usually clears completely in about two weeks, normally without scarring. A carbuncle is a cluster of boils, raising up on the back of the neck, shoulders or thighs. Particularly afflicting older men, and because they are more severe they heal slower. Their remnants of a scar is not out of the question.
Treatment of a large boil or carbuncle may require drainage. Perhaps the only pleasant part of this abatement is the likely pain relief, accelerated healing and scar free recovery. Home care natural treatment suggestion is soaking your boil(s) in warm salt water, 30 minutes, several times daily. Warm salt water cloth compress is a fabulous alternate.
Two serious complications of deep follucitis are cellulitis and destruction of your hair follicle, leading to permanent hair loss. Certain factors make your follicles a bit more susceptible to infections, such as:
- surgery skin trauma
- topical corticosteroid use
- dwelling in warm, humid climates
- long time use of topical antibiotics
- pre-existing skin condition ~ acne or dermatitis
- reduced infection resistance conditions ~ diabetes, chronic leukemia, organ transplant, HIV/AIDS
Some simple prevention measures, without guarantee:
- maintain hot tubs ~ keep it clean and chlorinated
- avoid constrictive clothing ~ tight jeans, athletic wear
- shave with care ~ women may want to consider other hair removal methods
Mild cases of folliculitis often respond well to natural home care. In fact, some will clear up without any treatment at all. Keep your skin health maximized with regular hygiene. Oh yeah, not a skin healthy practice to share or borrow skin cleaning or drying resources, like washcloth, towel, razor, etc…