Folliculitis –What Is It?

Razor Burn, Hot Tub Rash, and Barber’s Itch

Folliculitis is, essentially, an inflammation of the hair follicles. This inflammation can have severe and potentially devastating effects for the patient. This condition is rather common and can affect any area of the body with hair. In most cases, the condition is caused by a bacterial or fungal infection. It first appears as a series of small, red bumps. These tend to rapidly develop into painful, pus-filled pimples that form around the hair follicles. If left untreated, crusty sores may form and continue to proliferate and spread. The condition is extraordinarily itchy, and may also cause soreness, scarring, and permanent loss of hair. Some of the most common types of folliculitis are referred to as: razor burn, barber’s itch, and hot tub rash.

What Causes Folliculitis?

Some of the most commonly affected areas of the body are those that are shaved on a regular basis or those areas with copious amounts of course hair, such as the face, underarms, pubic area, legs, chest, back, arms, and buttocks. While folliculitis is typically caused by an infection, it may also result from irritation, blocked oil ducts, and several types of fungal and bacterial skin diseases, parasites, medical conditions, and many other factors including:

  • Staphylococcus Aureus (Boils)
  • Pseudomonas Aeruginosa (Spas; Pustular Acne)
  • Malassezia Yeast (Upper Trunk Acne)
  • Candida Albicans (Beard and Skin Folds)
  • Ringworm (Scalp)
  • Herpes Simplex
  • Herpes Zoster (Shingles)
  • Molluscum Contagiosum
  • Demodex Infestation (Hair Follicle Mites)
  • Scabies Infestation
  • Re-Growing Hairs (Impacted or Infected)
  • Pseudofolliculitis Barbae (Barber’s Itch)
  • Irritant Folliculitis (Razor Burn)
  • Occlusion by Heavy Oil or Wax-Based Agents
  • Chemical Exposure (Coal Tar, Oils, etc.)
  • Perioral Dermatitis
  • Topical Steroids
  • Eosinophilic Folliculitis (Due to Immune Suppression –Cancer, HIV, etc.)
  • Androgens (Male Hormones)
  • ACTH
  • Lithium
  • Isoniazid
  • Phenytoin
  • B Vitamins
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Vemurafenib
  • Dabrafenib
  • Acne
  • Lichen Planus
  • Discoid Lupus Erythematosus
  • Folliculitis Decalvans
  • Folliculitis Keloidalis
  • Dissecting Cellulitis
  • Buttock Folliculitis

Effective Treatments for Folliculitis

Although folliculitis can become persistent and much more difficult to eradicate over time, effective treatments exist. With a strict hygiene protocol, intensive courses of antibiotics, isotretinoin, topical therapies, and anti-androgenic therapy, most cases can be managed quite well. In some cases, permanent hair removal is the ideal treatment option. Every case is unique. We strive to help our patients look and feel their best. Contact Allegheny Advanced Dermatology Center to schedule an appointment today. Call: (814) 944-7109.