Folliculitis or Barbers itch?

picture of Folliculitis

What is Folliculitis

Folliculitis is aninflammation of 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 beard area, arms, back, buttocks, and legs.

Symptoms of Folliculitis

Folliculitis signs and symptoms include:

  • Clusters of small red bumps or white-headed pimples that develop around hair follicles
  • Pus-filled blisters that break open and crust over
  • Red and inflamed skin
  • Itchy or burning skin
  • Tenderness or pain
  • A large swollen bump or mass

Folliculitis Facts

  • Folliculitis is a very common, benign skin disorder that appears as pinpoint red bumps sometimes with a small dot of pus at the top.
  • Folliculitis affects people of all ages, from babies to seniors.
  • The numerous smooth little red bumps form around hair follicles and are most common on the face, scalp, chest, back, buttocks, and legs.
  • Folliculitis is often seen in otherwise healthy people, it’s easily curable in most cases, and frequently clears on its own without treatment, though it may require ongoing maintenance therapy.
  • Antibacterial over-the-counter medications containing benzoyl peroxide are often used to treat folliculitis, but resistant cases may need antibiotic pills to clear the skin.
  • Good skin hygiene and proper shaving techniques have been shown to prevent folliculitis.

What causes Folliculitis?

It may be caused by bacteria. It also can be caused by yeast or another type of fungus.

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 clothes.
  • Use or work with substances that can irritate or block the follicles. Examples include makeup, cocoa butter, motor oil, tar, and creosote.
  • Have an infected cut, scrape, or surgical wound. The bacteria or fungi can spread to nearby hair follicles.
  • Have a disease such as diabetes or HIV that lowers your ability to fight infection.

Types of Deep Folliculitis

Deep folliculitis, where the whole hair follicle is involved, comes in various forms:

  • Sycosis barbae. This type affects men who have begun to shave. At first, small pustules appear on the upper lip, chin and jaw. They become more prevalent over days and weeks as shaving continues. Severe sycosis barbae may cause scarring.
  • Gram-negative folliculitis. This type sometimes develops if you’re receiving long-term antibiotic therapy for acne. Antibiotics alter the normal balance of bacteria in the nose. This leads to an overgrowth of harmful organisms called gram-negative bacteria. In most people, this doesn’t cause problems, and the bacteria in the nose return to normal once antibiotics are stopped. In a few people, the gram-negative bacteria spread to the skin around the nose and mouth. This can cause new, severe acne.
  • Boils (furuncles) and carbuncles. These occur when hair follicles become deeply infected with staph bacteria. A boil usually appears suddenly as a painful pink or red bump. The surrounding skin also may be red and swollen. The bump then fills with pus and grows larger and more painful before it finally ruptures and drains. Small boils usually heal without scarring. A large boil may leave a scar.

    A carbuncle is a cluster of boils. It usually appears on the back of the neck, shoulders, back or thighs. A carbuncle causes a deeper and more severe infection than does a single boil. As a result, it develops and heals more slowly and is likely to leave a scar.

  • Eosinophilic (e-o-sin-o-FILL-ik) folliculitis. This type mainly affects people with HIV/AIDS. Symptoms include intense itching and recurring patches of inflamed, pus-filled sores on the scalp, face, neck and upper chest. The sores usually spread and often leave areas of darker than normal skin (hyperpigmentation) when they heal. The exact cause of eosinophilic folliculitis isn’t known. But it may involve the same yeast-like fungus responsible for pityrosporum folliculitis.

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