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Is Folliculitis a Type of Acne?


I would like to talk to you about Folliculitis. I have clients all the time that believe their break outs are acne when in fact they have a case of folliculitis.

Folliculitis is inflammation/infection that can affect one or more hair follicles. You will typically find redness, swelling, and often pustule formation limited to hair follicles. The condition may occur anywhere on the skin except the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. The rash may appear as pimples that come to white tips on the face, chest, back, arms, legs, buttocks, or head which make people think they have a bad case of acne because the area may itch or be painful. Severe infections can cause permanent hair loss and scarring. It’s most likely to occur on your thighs, buttocks, neck, and armpits — places where friction is common.

Symptoms: Folliculitis causes small crusty bumps to form on your skin. They can be red, white, or yellow in color. They may also experience:

  • Soreness

  • Itching

  • Swelling

  • Pus at the location site

(Visual Courtesy of Mayo Clinic)

Causes: Folliculitis is usually caused by staph bacteria or fungi. You can contract staph bacteria or fungi through body contact with someone who has an infection. You can also contract them through contact with contaminated personal items, such as towels, soap, or clothing used by someone with an infection. You can pick up bacteria or fungi at unclean pools or spas as well.

Other factors:

  • Wearing tight clothing that irritates your skin

  • Getting skin injuries, such as those caused by shaving

  • Not showering after excessive sweating

  • Having a weakened immune system

Treatment: Folliculitis is usually minor and goes away on its own without treatment. If you have skin irritation that’s accompanied by a fever, spreading rash, or pus-filled and smelly bumps, seek medical help.

Chronic folliculitis can be more difficult to treat. Antibiotics and other medications may not clear up chronic cases. If other treatment options fail, your doctor may recommend laser hair removal.

During treatment, you should refrain from removing hair by plucking, waxing, or shaving. Allowing your hair to grow may help your follicles to heal. For chronic folliculitis, your doctor may advise you to allow your hair to grow for up to three months.

Prevention: To help prevent folliculitis:

  • Shave only in the direction that hair grows, or use an electric razor.

  • Avoid tight-fitting clothing, especially rough fabrics such as denim.

  • Use lotions that don’t clog your pores to keep your skin moisturized.

  • Avoid sharing personal care products, such as razors and towels.

  • Shower after heavy sweating.

To help prevent complications and lessen the severity of folliculitis when you have it:

  • Avoid friction caused by shaving or rubbing the infected area.

  • Use a warm compress to calm irritation and reduce pain.

  • Wash your towels and washcloths every day until all of your symptoms have subsided.

Additional Reading About Folliculitis >

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