Saturday, August 15, 2015

What is Folliculitis?

Yes, even dogs can get folliculitis.
Folliculitis is a persistent infection caused by either bacteria or possibly a fungus within the hair follicle. It occurs due to shaving, long-term irritation, or even restrictive or tight clothing. Folliculitis should not be confused with pseudofolliculitis barbae, otherwise known as ingrown hair. This happens due to hair curling back down into the follicle wall instead of coming up out onto the skin’s surface, which is the reason pseudofolliculitis barbae tends to occur more often with African-American males or any men with curly hair.

Believe it or not, there is a condition called hot tub folliculitis or pseudomonas folliculitis. Like standard folliculitis, it is a bacterial infection within the hair follicle, but as the name implies, it is contracted by sitting in a hot tub! Usually the infection is located where the water meets the skin; around the neck, upper arms, and upper back areas.

I actually know several clients who have experienced this condition. It starts with a hot tub that is not well-ventilated, perhaps sitting inside a garage, and fungus multiplies in the water. Although poor ventilation seems to be a common factor, I have a client who was in an outdoor hot tub at a resort, and everyone who participated developed pseudomonas folliculitis, which looked like little red bumps all over their upper bodies and faces.

Regardless of how you got folliculitis, getting rid of it is what is important. Mild cases of folliculitis will respond to topical antibiotics that you can get either from your dermatologist or over the counter. Remember, the prescription treatment will be a stronger version than the store-bought kind.

Don’t wear tight or restrictive clothing over the affected skin, and I would steer clear of using harsh products on the area—even sunscreens. Due to the chemicals in sun products, this may further irritate the skin and cause a longer recovery period. However, if you are going to be exposed to the sun, you obviously need to use a sunscreen, but if at all possible avoid these types of products until the skin condition clears up.

For a man who has folliculitis on his face, shaving can delay the healing process. Every time you go over your face with a razor, you are probably causing further irritation. Be sure to prepare your beard and use a softening shaving cream or gel. It would be best to shave in the direction of hair growth. This won’t give you the smoothest shave, but it will help to lessen the irritation caused by the razor. After shaving, apply a soothing aftershave product, and then apply your antibiotic cream to the affected area. If you don’t use an antibacterial treatment, the bacteria inside the hair follicle will persist.

The timetable for recovering from folliculitis varies with the individual. Sometimes it can take months for this condition to clear up, so be patient and follow your doctor’s recommendations.

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