Folliculitis is an inflammation of hair follicles. Hair follicles are skin organs that produce hair. Attached to hair follicles are sebum producing glands and muscle fibers that are responsible for hair erection. This condition is characterized by small pink or red bumps at the base of hair. This inflammation causes a chicken-skin appearance accompanied by itching. This can affect any part of the body such as chest, back, arms, legs, cheeks and buttocks. Very small 10 to 100 red bumps usually appear on a specific area of the body that is accompanied by light red halo indicating inflammation. Folliculitis primarily affects teenagers and younger adults but is also seen in other age groups.
Causes and Manifestations
Folliculitis starts when follicles are damaged by friction from clothing, insect bites, shaving or hairstyles that pull hair excessively. These damaged follicles are infected by bacteria, virus or fungi. Most cases of folliculitis are caused by the bacteria staphylococcus.
Iron deficiency anemia has also been known to cause folliculitis in chronic cases.
When bacteria is the causative agent for the inflammation, an individual may have hot tub folliculits, barber's itch and gram negative folliculitis:
- Hot tub folliculitis usually occur when tub was not properly cleaned before use.
- On the other hand, barber's itch is a type of folliculitis affecting the bearded area of the face usually on the upper lip.
- Gram negative folliculitis appears after prolonged use of antibiotics used in treatment for acne.
Furthermore, if a patient is infected with fungal folliculitis, he or she may experience tinea barbae and Malassezia folliculitis:
- Tinea barbae is similar to barber's itch but is caused by the fungus T. rubrum.
- Malassezia folliculitis on the other hand is caused by a yeast infection.
There are also cases of folliculitis that are caused by a virus. The herpetic folliculits is an example of these cases. Herpetic folliculitis occurs when herplex simplex virus infection spreads to follicles.
There are also cases of folliculitis that are not caused by microorganisms. These cases are Pseudofolliculitis barbae, Eosinophilic folliculitis, Folliculitis keloidalis, Folliculitis decalvans and oil folliculitis. They are either caused by weakened immune system, exposure to harmful oils or disorder of normal hair growth. This condition is estimated to affect about 10% to 20% of people at one point in their lives.
Certain groups of people are more prone to acquire folliculitis than others. People with compromised immune system such as cases of HIV/AIDS, cancer, hepatitis, chronic illness, and patients receiving systemic chemotherapy and taking immunosuppressive drugs are more prone to acquire this condition.
This condition may be prevented by paying attention to proper hygiene and having a strong immune system. For patients who have hair growth disorder, he or she must see the doctor immediately to prevent further inflammation.
Treatment involves using topical antiseptic and antibiotics such as neomycin and mupirocin. Some patients use systemic penicillins such as dicloxacillin. The use of antibiotics aggravates fungal folliculitis so it is important to coordinate with your doctor if you have this situation. The effective way of treating fungal folliculitis is the use of fluconazole and Econazole.