Folliculitis is an infectious disease that is characterized by inflammation of the hair follicles. Tiny white-headed pimples appear around the hair follicles. They may be superficial or deep. The inflamed nodules give rise to redness, pain, itching, and edema. In few severe cases, pus-filled lesions may also be seen, which may coalesce and form an abscess. Based on the kind of infection, many types of folliculitis exist. One of the major causes of folliculitis is infection by pyogenic (pus-forming) bacteria.
Barber's itch folliculitis is caused by staphylococcus aureus. The acute eruptions are seen in the hair follicles of the bearded area of the face. The person is often advised to avoid shaving in the infected area as it may aggravate the condition. Pseudomonas aeruginosa, another species of bacteria, is known to cause hot tub folliculitis. Sitting in an unclean hot tub can result in development of inflammation of the hair follicles of the legs and buttocks. The infection worsens if the person immediately covers himself with a bathing suit or wet towel.
Fungal infections may also precipitate folliculitis. The fungus-trichophyton rubrum is known to cause tinea barbae. It affects the face and neck and is seen more commonly in older adolescents and adult males. Malassezia folliculitis is caused due to infection by malassezia furfur. The lesions tend to occur on the back, chest, and upper arms. Folliculitis may also develop when a person contracts herpes simplex virus infection. The area surrounding the mouth gets most affected.
Clinical examination along with wound culture and a complete blood cell count helps the dermatologist to identify the type of folliculitis. The nature of treatment depends upon the cause. Topical and systemic antibiotics are prescribed to cure the infection. Antibacterial soaps are recommended to minimize spread of the disease. It is advisable to clean the infected area with a disinfectant containing chlorhexidine or povidone iodine to reduce the severity of the illness.