October 26, 2008

Follicultitis is otherwise known as Barber’s itch or Barber’s rash. It is a common problem in many of us and yet we do not know much about it. Those affected with folliculitis get a lot of pimples on their face, scalp, thighs or buttocks. On the face it is normally mistaken for acne and is treated like normal pimples with no effect. It offers an embarrassingly itchy and uncomfortable experience with the risk of permanent hair loss or scarring.

What is folliculitis?

Folliculitis is a primary inflammation of the hair follicle (superficial or deep) occurring as a result of various infections. It can also be secondary to follicular trauma or occlusion. The infection is mostly bacterial caused by staph but in some cases it is fungal. Each strand of hair in our body grows from a tiny sac called follicle, into which the sebaceous glands open. Follicles are present wherever there is hair growth. Thus, follicultitis can occur in all areas like face, scalp, axilla, and inguinal area and areas rubbed by clothing, such as the thighs and groin. Folliculitis can affect anyone of any age group though certain conditions make people more prone to it:

  • Diabetes, chronic leukemia, organ transplantation or HIV/AIDS
  • Obesity
  • Inflammatory skin conditions, such as dermatitis, acne or eczema.
  • Tight clothing
  • Friction from shaving
  • Lack of hygiene
  • Heat and humidity
  • Staphylococcal infection in the nasal passages
  • Excessive perspiration
  • Injuries to your skin, such as abrasions or surgical wounds
  • Covering skin with plastic dressings or adhesive tape
  • Exposure to coal tar, pitch or creosote

And since it is bacterial it is contagious! Non infectious forms of folliculitis is caused by tars, oil and greases that come in to contact with the skin.

Superficial staphylococcal folliculitis is the most common while Deeper staphylococcal folliculitis is the least. Gram-negative folliculitis usually affects people using a contaminated tub or those who have been treated for a long time for acne. Fungal follicultitis are generally three types Trichophyton folliculitis, Pityrosporum folliculitis and Candida folliculitis.

Help yourself

You can nip it in the bud.

  1. Always use loose clothing and cotton undergarments.
  2. Use an electric razor or use new blades always. Keep the area clean and devoid of cuts and scratches.
  3. Use hot tubs well cleaned and sanitized.
  4. Use an antibacterial soap and loofahs. If you have it on the scalp, shampoo regularly.
  5. An oatmeal lotion or hydrocortisone cream can soothe itchy skin.
  6. Use warm compresses several times a day.
  7. Do not share your razors, towels and washcloths. Use antibacterial liquids, soap and hot water to clean your clothes.

Do not hesitate to get medical help if you develop a fever, pain or if the symptoms worsen.

- Aparna K V

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