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Folliculitis is the inflammation of one or more hair follicles. It appears as a rash or white-headed pimples or pustules near a hair follicle. Folliculitis can occur anywhere on the body, but it typically affects hairy areas, such as the neck or groin. Follicles can be damaged from repeated friction, such as rubbing from too-tight clothes, or a blockage of the hair follicle, like from shaving. In most cases, follicles become infected with the Staphylococcus bacteria, but fungi may also be to blame. Anyone can develop folliculitis, but certain lifestyle factors, like wearing tight clothing, not showering after excessive sweating, and receiving skin injuries, can increase your likelihood of needing folliculitis treatment.

Folliculitis Symptoms

Folliculitis symptoms typically manifest as small, crusty bumps on the skin. These bumps are usually red, white, or yellow, and they can appear anywhere on the body where hair grows. Folliculitis bumps are often accompanied by the following sensations:

  • Itching
  • Swelling
  • Pus
  • Soreness

Types of Folliculitis

While folliculitis can be caused by a variety of bacteria and fungi, there are two primary types of the condition. The type of folliculitis you have will inform your treatment.

  • Superficial Folliculitis affects the upper area of the hair follicle and may cause red, inflamed skin, small clusters of red bumps, blisters that break open and crust over, and/or itchiness and tenderness. When the infection occurs in men’s beards, it is called Barber’s Itch. When it is caused by a fungal infection, it is known as Tinea Barbae (ringworm).
  • Deep Folliculitis affects the entire follicle, from its deepest parts under the skin to the surface of the skin. This less-common form of folliculitis is seen in people who are undergoing chronic acne antibiotic treatment, people with HIV, or people with boils and carbuncles.

Folliculitis Treatment

Minor folliculitis, which is very common, typically goes away on its own without treatment. Moderate or uncomfortable cases of the condition should be treated with antifungal medications. Folliculitis treatment can also include oral or topical antibiotics and antihistamines.

Chronic folliculitis is more difficult to treat, and it always requires a doctor’s help. Treatment for persistent or deep folliculitis may include antibiotics and laser hair removal.