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Folliculitis is inflammation of the hair follicles or where hair grows. This condition is usually caused by a bacterial or fungal infection. While often harmless, folliculitis can worsen and cause permanent hair loss.

Follicles are found almost all over the body. Therefore, folliculitis can occur in any part of the body. However, in the majority of cases, folliculitis appears on the neck, thighs, armpits, and buttocks.

Folliculitis is generally not contagious. However, folliculitis caused by Staphylococcus aureus bacteria can infect other people.

Causes of Folliculitis

Folliculitis is divided into two main types, namely superficial folliculitis and deep folliculitis . Each type has a different cause. Here is the explanation:

Superficial folliculitis

Superficial folliculitis is a type of folliculitis that partially destroys the hair follicles. Superficial folliculitis is further divided into:

  • Bacterial folliculitis , which is caused by a bacterial infection, especially Staphylococcus
  • Pseudomonas folliculitis or hot tub folliculitis, which is caused by infection with the Pseudomonas bacteria
  • Pityrosporum folliculitis , which is caused by an infection with the fungus Malassezia
  • Pseudofolliculitis barbae , which is caused by ingrown hairs in the beard area

Deep folliculitis

Deep follicullitis is a type of folliculitis that can damage the entire hair follicle. Based on the cause, deep follicullitis is divided into several types, namely:

  • Sycosis barbae, which is caused by infection with Staphylococcus aureus
  • Gram-negative folliculitis, caused by long-term use of antibiotics to treat acne
  • Boils (furuncles) or clusters of boils (carbuncles), which are caused by infection with the Staphylococcus bacteria
  • Eosinophilic folliculitis , which has no known cause, but usually affects people with HIV/AIDS

It can be seen that folliculitis is generally caused by infection with Staphylococcus aureus bacteria . Actually, these bacteria are found on the surface of the skin, and do not interfere with health. However, problems usually only arise when these bacteria enter the hair follicle through the damaged skin surface.

Folliculitis Risk Factors

Folliculitis can happen to anyone, but people are more at risk for the following factors:

  • Have acne
  • Suffering from inflammation of the skin
  • Soaking in a hot tub that is not well maintained
  • Often wear clothes that do not absorb sweat, such as rubber gloves or boots
  • Often wears tight clothing
  • Frequent shaving, including using the wrong razor , or waxing
  • Have ingrown hair
  • Suffering from a disease that lowers immunity, such as diabetes, HIV/AIDS, or leukemia
  • Using certain medications to treat acne, such as corticosteroid creams or long-term antibiotics

Folliculitis Symptoms

Folliculitis symptoms depend on the type and severity. But generally, folliculitis raises the following complaints:

  • Small red or pimple -like spots on the skin where hair grows
  • Lumps filled with pus, can enlarge or break
  • Skin feels sore and sore
  • Itching and burning sensation on the skin
  • The hair on the inflamed area falls out

When to see a doctor

Immediately check with your doctor if you experience the symptoms or signs above, especially if the complaint doesn't go away after a few days.

Diagnosis of Folliculitis

The doctor will ask the patient's medical history and perform a physical examination of the patient's skin. Doctors can also perform dermoscopy, which is an examination of the skin using an instrument such as a microscope, to see the condition of the skin more clearly.

If the infection persists despite the patient's treatment, the doctor will perform a swab test on the infected skin or hair. This sample will then be examined in a laboratory to determine the cause of the infection.

In certain cases, the doctor may also take a tissue sample ( biopsy ) on the skin, to rule out other conditions.

Folliculitis Treatment

Folliculitis treatment methods will be tailored to the type and severity experienced. Some methods that doctors can use to treat folliculitis are:


The doctor will prescribe antibiotics in the form of creams or pills if the folliculitis is caused by a bacterial infection. Meanwhile, to treat folliculitis caused by a fungal infection, the doctor will give antifungal drugs in the form of creams, shampoos or tablets.

In patients with mild eosinophilic folliculitis , the doctor will suggest using steroid creams to relieve itching. Meanwhile, for patients who also suffer from HIV/AIDS, doctors will give antiretroviral drugs.


In patients who have large lumps, the doctor will perform a small operation to remove pus from the lump. This procedure does not leave a lot of scars and will allow the patient to heal more quickly.

Laser therapy

If other methods fail and the folliculitis comes back, the doctor will remove the hair follicles with a laser. However, this method is expensive and will permanently remove hair from the treated area.

For patients with mild folliculitis, do the following to relieve symptoms and speed up the healing process:

  • Clean the infected area with warm water and antibacterial soap . Make sure to always use clean clothes and towels.
  • Soak a cloth in a mixture of 1 teaspoon of salt and 2 cups of water, then apply the cloth to the infected area of ​​the body. If you don't have salt, you can replace it with white vinegar.
  • Avoid shaving, scratching, or wearing clothes that are too tight on the infected area.

Complications of Folliculitis

Folliculitis is self-limiting and rarely causes more serious problems. However, there are some complications that may occur due to folliculitis, namely:

  • Boil
  • Spreading or recurring infection
  • Permanent skin damage, can be in the form of scars or blackened skin
  • Follicular damage and permanent baldness

Folliculitis Prevention

Folliculitis can be prevented by taking simple steps, such as:

  • Keep your skin clean and moisturized, especially if you are prone to infection, such as diabetes .
  • Use shaving cream before shaving, and apply moisturizing cream after shaving.
  • Be sure to use a fresh, sharp razor every time you shave. If possible, use an electric shaver or hair removal cream.
  • Avoid wearing tight clothes so that there is no friction between the skin and the clothes.
  • Use skin care products that keep the skin moist but don't clog the skin pores.
  • Always use clean towels and do not share towels, razors or other personal items with others.
  • Avoid bathing in places where cleanliness is not guaranteed.
  • Wash your hands frequently with clean water and soap.
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