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Skin Problems & Treatments Health Center

Folliculitis - Topic Overview

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How is it treated?

Mild folliculitis usually heals on its own in about 2 weeks. You can take care of yourself at home with:

  • Warm compresses made with white vinegar or Burow's solution. These may ease itching and help healing.
  • Medicated shampoo. It can be used to treat folliculitis on the scalp or beard.

If the infection doesn't go away, you may need an antibiotic or antifungal cream. If your infection is severe, your doctor will prescribe antibiotic or antifungal pills.

Call your doctor if you have folliculitis and:

  • It spreads or keeps coming back.
  • You have a fever over 101°F (38°C).
  • The infected area becomes red, swollen, warm, or more painful.

If the infection 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 infected.

How can you prevent folliculitis?

There are many things you can do to prevent folliculitis or keep it from spreading.

  • Bathe or shower daily with a mild soap. Also, bathe or shower after you exercise and after you work around chemicals.
  • Avoid sharing towels, washcloths, or other personal items. If you have folliculitis, use a clean washcloth and towel each time you bathe.
  • Don't scratch the bumps.
  • Avoid shaving the bumps. If you must shave, change the razor blade each time. Try using depilatory creams and lotions, which remove hair without shaving. (These products are not recommended for use more often than once or twice a week.)
  • Avoid using oils on your skin. Oils can trap bacteria in the pores of your skin and can cause folliculitis.
  • After you use public hot tubs or spas, shower right away with soap. If you own your own hot tub, follow the manufacturer's instructions for keeping it clean.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 31, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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