Folliculitis is due to inflammation around the hair follicle. It is a common problem that occurs most often on the scalp, but may occur on the legs, buttocks, or other body areas. Mainly, it is an inflamed hair follicle. There are many causes of folliculitis.
- Bacterial infections with Staphylococcus species, rarely with Pseudomonas species (a germ common to hot tubs and swimming pools) and/or with other germs.
- Ingrown hairs, tweezing, waxing, and shaving.
- Medicines that contain cortisone or iodides. Some health foods, such as kelp (seaweed), and some vitamins contain large amounts of iodides.
- Being exposed to oils, greases, tars, or other irritants can cause a chemical folliculitis.
- Rubbing, long-term (chronic) irritation, and friction can produce a mechanical folliculitis.
- Sometimes we cannot find the cause of folliculitis. It is often a chronic problem that recurs and can be hard to treat. Your doctor will decide what treatment is best suited for you.
- Bacterial cultures and treatment with oral antibiotics may be needed. Your doctor will decide if you need this.
- Avoid scrubbing, friction, rubbing, and scratching.
- Prescribed shampoos may be of some help. Your doctor may suggest one.
- Topical antibiotic (applied to skin) may help some patients.
- It is important to keep your skin well moistened. Folliculitis can get much worse, when the skin is very dry.
- Because the hair follicles are located deep in the skin, treatments may take weeks to months.
UW Dermatology Department
1 S. Park St 7th Floor
Madison, WI 53715
Clinic: 608 287-2450
University of Wisconsin Hospital & Clinics
Pediatric Dermatology Specialty Clinic
600 Highland Ave.
Madison, WI 53792
Clinic: 608 263-6420
The Spanish version of this Health Facts for You is #7158.
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Last Updated: 11/14/2012
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