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Folliculitis is an inflammation of the hair follicles.
Each hair on your body grows out of a tiny pouch called a follicle. You can
have folliculitis on any part of your body that has hair. But it is most common on the beard area, arms, back, buttocks, and legs.
It may be caused by
bacteria. It also can be caused by yeast or another
You may get folliculitis if you
have damaged hair follicles. Shaving or wearing clothes that rub the skin can
irritate the follicles, which can lead to folliculitis. They also can become
blocked or irritated by sweat, machine oils, or makeup. When the follicles are
injured, they are more likely to become infected.
You are more
likely to get folliculitis if you:
Folliculitis usually looks
like red pimples with a hair in the center of each one. The pimples may have
pus in them, and they may itch or burn. When the pimples break open, they may
drain pus, blood, or both.
"Hot tub folliculitis" most often appears about 72 hours after you've been in a hot tub or spa. Many small pimples appear on your stomach and sometimes on your arms and legs. You might have a mild fever and have an upset stomach. Most of the time, this kind of folliculitis goes away on its own in 7 to 10 days.
Your doctor will
check your skin and ask about your health and activities. He or she may do
tests to find out what is causing your folliculitis and to make sure you don't
have a different problem, such as
impetigo or heat rash. Testing a sample of the fluid
in the pimples or a sample of tissue can help your doctor learn what is causing
Mild folliculitis usually heals
on its own in about 2 weeks. You can take care of yourself at home with:
the inflammation gets worse or doesn't go away, you may need to see your doctor. He or she may prescribe medicine, such as an antibiotic.
Call your doctor if you have folliculitis and:
If the inflammation doesn't go away or keeps coming back,
laser hair removal may be an option. Laser treatment destroys the hair
follicles, so they can't get inflamed.
There are many
things you can do to prevent folliculitis or keep it from spreading.
Learning about folliculitis:
Other Works Consulted
Berger TG (2012). Dermatologic disorders. In SJ McPhee, MA Papadakis, eds., 2012 Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment, 51st ed., pp. 93–163. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Habif TP (2010). Bacterial infections. In Clinical Dermatology, A Color Guide to Diagnosis and Therapy, 5th ed., pp. 335–381. Edinburgh: Mosby Elsevier.
Hall JC (2010). Dermatologic bacteriology. In JC Hall, ed., Sauer's Manual of Skin Diseases, 10th ed., pp. 202–219. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
Current as of:
March 12, 2014
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Amy McMichael, MD - Dermatology
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