Folliculitis is a condition in which the hair follicles become inflamed, usually as a result of infection. Hair follicles can become irritated as a result of several causes, such as clothing friction or insect bites, the follicle getting blocked off, or shaving. Once the follicle becomes irritated, it can become infected, most commonly from the Staphylococcus bacteria. Folliculitis can result in redness, itchiness and the formation of a pustule around the infected follicle.
For most cases of folliculitis, topical antiseptic treatments work well. Over-the-counter treatments such as Bactine or other antiseptic treatments, which can be purchased at the drug store, will usually work. These medications will keep the infection and irritation from worsening.
For more severe cases of folliculitis, topical antibiotics may be recommended. Creams or ointments that contain mupirocin or neomycin are effective at killing the types of bacteria that can cause folliculitis. This method of treatment works well if the source of the infection is thought to be bacterial.
Some cases of folliculitis are caused by fungi and are often characterized by a stereotypical rash that these fungal infections cause. In these cases, an ointment or cream that has antifungal ingredients is recommended. The most effective treatments will have benzoic acid and miconazole or terbinafine.
Some cases of folliculitis become complicated, and the swelling can spread to other areas of the skin. With this type of extensive folliculitis, the swelling must be remedied before other treatments, such as antibiotics, can be effective. Applying a warm, wet washcloth to the affected area will help drain the swelling.
Folliculitis can also cause significant damage to the surrounding skin tissue. Treating areas affected with Isotretinoin or Retin-A, two compounds that contain vitamin A, will help repair the damaged cells.