Folliculitis Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

By jolene
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Folliculitis is the inflammation of the hair follicle. It is a common skin condition where pinpoint red bumps appear on the surface of the skin. It can be either infectious (i.e. bacterial) or noninfectious (i.e. trauma or occlusion of the follicle). Each bump involves a hair follicle, and within its walls, inflammatory cells can accumulate creating a pustule in the base of the follicle. It can affect any individual regardless of age, race, or gender. The common areas involved are usually the face, chest, back, scalp, buttocks, groin, thighs, and legs. It will not involve areas where there are no hair follicles. It is often seen even in healthy individuals and is easily treatable. In some cases, it may even resolve on its own.

The treatment of folliculitis depends on the cause and severity of the condition. Patients with diabetes, altered immune status (i.e. cancer or AIDS patients), malnutrition, obesity or using certain types of medications (i.e. topical steroids) are at higher risk for developing folliculitis.

Cause #1: Bacterial Infection

Folliculitis can be caused by a bacterium known as Staphylococcus aureus. It is a bacterium than can be often found on the skin. This type of folliculitis is superficial and often has itchy, white, and pus-filled bumps. Although Staphylococcus aureus is the most common etiology, other bacteria can cause folliculitis as well. Certain gram-negative organisms (i.e. Enterobacter, Klebsiella, Escherichia) can cause folliculitis on patients that have been treated for acne with long-term systemic antibiotics. Another gram-negative folliculitis (also known as hot tub folliculitis) can be caused by a type of bacteria known as Pseudomonas. This form of folliculitis may be associated with systemic symptoms (i.e. fever).

Depending on the severity of the infection, an antibacterial wash, a topical antibiotic, or oral antibiotic can be prescribed. For uncomplicated superficial lesions, the administration of antibiotics may not be necessary. However, for refractory or deep infectious lesions systemic antibiotics might be indicated. In some cases, Staphylococcus aureus resistance to certain antibiotics (i.e. penicillin or even methicillin-resistant) can be present, thus leading to the empiric use of antibiotics of a wider spectrum.


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