How can I treat folliculitis?
Folliculitis is a very common dermatological condition affecting hair-bearing skin. People of all ages can develop it. Normally, the disorder is not dangerous but it can be very discomforting and embarrassing.
There are different types of it but all are characterised by swelling of the skin and inflammation of the hair follicles. In this article, we will look at the causes of each type as well as different ways of treating folliculitis.
- What are the causes of folliculitis?
- What are the different folliculitis types and symptoms?
- Can folliculitis lead to hair loss?
- Why is my folliculitis not going away?
- Are there natural remedies against folliculitis?
What are the causes of folliculitis?
Folliculitis is an infectious inflammatory condition of the hair follicles. It is a common skin problem and may occur in otherwise healthy people. Folliculitis can be present in any area where you have hair. Men and those with coarse and curly hair are more prone to having this disorder.
The progression of this disease can vary greatly among patients. Some experience only a mild occurrence that resolves by itself within 2-3 weeks. For some, it is a recurrent problem that lasts for years. That said, most cases are manageable but do require ongoing maintenance.
Various pathogenic microorganisms can bring about this condition: yeast, bacteria, viruses or ticks. The causes of folliculitis can be divided into external factors (high/low temperatures, skin trauma, dirt) and certain diseases (liver conditions, diabetes, poor diet).
What are the different folliculitis types and symptoms?
The symptoms of this condition depend on the type of folliculitis a person has. In superficial folliculitis, for instance, the red bumps are really small and painless to touch. After a few days, the bumps get dry and flaky and form a brown crust. This can also affect the skin pigmentation and leave lasting brownish spots.
In deep folliculitis, the whole hair follicle is damaged. It is characterised by the formation of bigger pus-filled lumps with whiteheads that are sore and tender. It can be very itchy and leaves dark spots on the shaved area.
Types of Bacterial folliculitis include:
- this is the most common form that develops from Staphylococcus aureus. It can be caused by frequent shaving and waxing, friction from clothing, some chronic illnesses, weak immune system, excessive sweating and infrequent showering.
- Hot tub folliculitis:
- this form develops due to bathing in a poorly-cleaned tub or a swimming pool and can be infectious. Most commonly, it occurs as tiny red or purple bumps all over the back and the torso.
- Gram-negative folliculitis:
- it becomes present due to long-term treatment of acne with antibiotics. Here, the bacteria develop resistance to the medication and worsen skin flare ups.
- Razor bumps:
- this occurs after shaving or plucking as hair starts to regrow.
Apart from bacteria, other microorganisms can be a cause of folliculitis too.
Yeast or fungi
Prolonged antibiotics’ use can entail a fungal infection and result in folliculitis. It may look like severe acne, that is why it is considered under-recognised and often misdiagnosed.
One of the main differences between acne and this condition is that the latter tends to be itchy and does not form distinctive white or blackheads. People with fungal folliculitis often suffer from seborrheic dermatitis too, as both are triggered by the Malassezia genus of yeasts.
Viral folliculitis is associated with herpes. Herpes simplex virus causes painful cold sores that also affect hair follicles around them. This is not a common type of folliculitis and can be resolved without special treatment.
Can folliculitis lead to hair loss?
Folliculitis decalvans is the type of disorder that affects the scalp directly. It is a quite rare condition, the exact cause of which has not been yet discovered. In many cases, it is attributed to Staphylococcus aureus activity. Some small reports also suggest that there is a genetic predisposition for it.
Generally, this condition leads to tissue scarring and hair loss. Folliculitis decalvans is responsible for about 11% of cases of scarring alopecia. Unfortunately, there is no specific treatment for it. The condition tends to be long-term and requires continuous management of the symptoms.
Why is my folliculitis not going away?
Most times, the problem progresses mildly and only symptomatic treatment is required. The inflamed scalp needs up to 2 weeks to heal, generally, without any targeted treatment measures.
Common folliculitis treatment options
For mild folliculitis, doctors recommend applying warm compresses to ease discomfort, itching and burning. Clean the affected area with warm water, which you can dilute in some sea salt or use antibacterial soap. Do not forget to change the compress every time you do this. Do such compresses 3-4 times a day for about 15 minutes each time.
Antiseptic washes and shampoos are also needed to kill bacteria and relieve the symptoms. You can dilute some hydrogen peroxide or chlorhexidine with water and apply it onto the inflamed scalp with a cotton pad. This will help with both bacterial and yeast infections.
Avoid the scalp area while applying masks, conditioners or other cosmetic products. We also want to stress that you should never pop the folliculitis bumps. This will make it easier for the infection to spread and result in scarring.
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What are some preventative measures?
In order to prevent folliculitis from recurring:
- Avoid shaving or tweezing until the lesion completely heals. Change bedding and towels as often as possible;
- Do not wear restrictive clothing and synthetic fabrics;
- Regularly clean your cosmetic brushes, sponges, razors and hair combs;
- Do not soak in hot water as it will irritate the hair follicles even more and slow down the recovery;
Your diet can also contribute to flare-ups of folliculitis. Eat plenty of vegetables and omega-3-rich foods and stay away from salty, spicy and processed meals, as they can worsen inflammation. Additionally, you can take A, E and B vitamins to speed up the healing process.
Are there natural remedies against folliculitis?
A great remedy for folliculitis is aloe vera. It is a true hair all-rounder with antibacterial and antifungal properties. Aloe vera is soothing and cooling; it can also relieve swelling and redness.
Apple cider vinegar is also known to be effective in milder cases of the disorder. Due to its acidity, it inhibits the reproduction of certain bacteria, in particular Staphylococcus aureus. Always remember to dilute with water before applying.
Some essential oils, especially tea tree oil, can be used for bacterial folliculitis if it is not severe. It is best to apply it directly on the bumps with a cotton swab. This will make them heal faster and reduce itchiness.
If you stick to the above-mentioned measures but keep getting folliculitis anyway, you need to consult a doctor for more targeted treatment with antibiotics.
Folliculitis is not a life-threatening disease. However, it can still influence one’s life greatly as it often requires long-term management of symptoms. These include swelling, rash and redness of the skin, sore blisters (sometimes with pus) around hair follicles. Folliculitis of the scalp often entails hair loss too.
You should consider switching to high-quality hair care products with natural ingredients that will not contribute to flare-ups of folliculitis. Dr Balwi’s shampoo and hair serum are the ones to look for if you want to gently cleanse your scalp and ensure the strength of your hair follicles.
Do you have more questions or are you suffering from hair loss issues ? Then feel free to to contact our friendly team that will answer all your queries. Furthermore they can also offer a free and non binding hair analysis.