Folliculitis is one of the most common types of skin infections. Folliculitis can be caused by simple irritation from poor hygiene or tight clothing, or from more serious conditions such as diabetes. A superficial infection may resolve on its own with no or minimal treatment, but when folliculitis recurs, more aggressive treatment may be needed to prevent serious infections. Treatments for recurrent folliculitis will be determined by the underlying cause of your folliculitis.
If your folliculitis is caused by a staph infection, your doctor will either prescribe an antibiotic ointment for your skin or an antibiotic for you to take by mouth. If a large furuncle or carbuncle has developed, your doctor may drain the infection. Otherwise, moist heat will encourage the infection to drain on its own. Take care not to spread the infection to other areas of your body. Avoid shaving the affected area; shaving can cause breaks in the skin, which can allow the infection to spread further. Talk with your doctor about using an antibacterial soap to help reduce staph on your skin.
This type of recurring folliculitis is caused by shaving. To treat this condition if it recurs, you will need to change your shaving habits. Rub the area to be shaved with a warm, wet washcloth before shaving; this helps the hairs stand up. Use a medicated shaving gel, and shave only in the direction of hair growth. Consider using an electric razor instead of a blade. If you use a blade, change it regularly, and never share razors. Your doctor may prescribe Retin-A to treat this condition, or may recommend you use a cortisone cream on your skin for a short period of time.
If you have recurrent herpetic folliculitis, your doctor will probably prescribe an antiviral medication. These include valacyclovir, acyclovir and famciclovir. They will help the infection resolve but may not always prevent a recurrence. If you have any reason to suspect your immune system may be compromised, be sure to discuss that with your doctor.
Inflammatory tinea barbae and pityrosporum folliculitis generally require oral anti-fungal medications. Your doctor may also prescribe a topical anti-fungal medication to treat pityrosporum folliculitis.
Other Types of Folliculitis
Accutane and antibiotics are used to treat gram-negative folliculitis, which may develop after long-term use of other antibiotics used to treat acne. Topical or oral corticosteroids are used to treat eosinophilic folliculitis.
In many ways, the best treatment for recurring folliculitis is prevention. Avoid hot tubs and whirlpools because bacteria can breed in warm, moist environments. Keep your skin dry, clean and free from irritation. Avoid tight, irritating clothing. Avoid scratching affected areas; this can spread the infection. Do not share your clothing, towels, razors or combs with others; this can also spread infection.