Chris Schach

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Key Points
*Inflammatory skin condition involving the hair follicles
*Most cases are due to infectious organisms, such as bacterial Folliculitis, but can be due to fungal infection or can be noninfectious
*Consists of pustules located on hair follicles, often pink or red in color, and may be painful or itchy

Folliculitis is a skin condition in which hair follicles become inflamed or infected. It consists of pustules located on the affected follicle, and will be surrounding by inflamed tissue that is pink or red in color. Mild cases will be tender and itchy, but in severe cases where the entire follicle becomes involves, lesions may become painful. Lesions may erupt and form scabs. Folliculits can affect almost any area aside from palms and soles, but there are favorite sites. These include the scalp, areas where shaving is common (face in men, legs, underarms, groin in women), and on the buttocks and thighs. Areas such as these, which are more susceptible due to the irritation from shaving or constant pressure and contact with clothing.

All age, gender and ethnic groups can develop Folliculitis. It is commonly due to an infection of the skin by bacteria. More rarely, fungal (yeast) Folliculitis can occur, often occurring on the upper torso or neck area following the use of antibiotics or in warm, humid climates. Conditions such as diabetes, weakened immune systems, underlying skin conditions, obesity, and excessive sweating can increase a person's susceptibility to the condition. Occasionally medications can cause Folliculitis.

Differential Diagnosis (Other conditions with similar appearance)

    Acne Vulgaris
    Acneiform Eruptions
    Insect Bites
    Candidiasis, Cutaneous
    Contact Dermatitis
    Papular Urticaria
    Perioral Dermatitis
    Pruritic papular eruption of HIV disease

    Key Points
    *Diagnosis based on skin appearance
    *Laboratory testing may be performed to determine if a causal organism is at fault

    Folliculitis is generally diagnosed based on appearance. Laboratory testing may be performed to determine if a causal organism is at fault for the condition.

    *Mild cases often treated at home
    *Goal of treatment is to control symptoms and prevent infection
    *In severe cases, more aggressive treatment may be pursued by health care professionals
    *Antibiotics may be prescribed for those patients who experience infection
    OTC Options: Antibacterial soap, antibiotic creams

    Mild cases of Folliculitis can often be treated at home. It is recommended that affected persons use antibacterial soap, apply hot compresses to the affected area, and wear loose fitting clothing. Cortisone creams can help to alleviate itching and irritation of the affected area. Launder all clothing and linens to prevent further infection, and wear loose fitting clothing to prevent further irritation.

    If the condition does not subside within a few days, it is recommended that you contact health care professionals. Determining the causal organism is the first step in devising a course of treatment. Health care professionals may prescribe antibacterial washes, topical antibiotics, or oral antibiotics to combat the condition. If the strain of bacteria causing the condition is drug-resistant, a combination of these therapies may be prescribed, including oral antibiotic combinations.

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