Folliculitis - Topic Overview
What is folliculitis?
is an infection in 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 face and scalp and areas rubbed by clothing, such as the thighs and
What causes folliculitis?
It usually is 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:
- Use a hot tub, whirlpool, or swimming pool
that is not properly treated with chlorine.
- Wear tight
- Use antibiotics or steroid creams for long
- Use or work with substances that can irritate or block the
follicles. Examples include makeup, cocoa butter, motor oil, tar, and
- Have an infected cut, scrape, or surgical wound. The
bacteria or fungi can spread to nearby hair follicles.
- Have a
disease such as
HIV that lowers your ability to fight
What are the symptoms?
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.
How is folliculitis diagnosed?
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