Have red dots on skin? Could be Folliculitis- Know symptoms and cure
Folliculitis is a common skin condition that occurs when hair follicles become inflamed. It is often caused due to a bacterial infection.
Folliculitis is a common skin condition that is the result of hair follicles becoming inflamed. It is often caused due to a bacterial infection. If you have red bumps appearing on your skin out of nowhere, then there is a possibility of bacterial folliculitis.
It usually looks like a small pimple, around the tiny pocket from where each hair grows (hair follicles). It can or cannot be itchy. However, if increased, the infection can spread and turn into crusty sores.
With basic self-care, mild folliculitis is likely to get healed in a few days without scarring. But, more serious or repeat infections may need prescription medicine. If it is left untreated, then severe infections can cause permanent hair loss and scarring.
There are quite a few types of folliculitis, but the two very common ones are known as hot tub rash and barber’s itch.
Types of folliculitis
The two main types of folliculitis are- superficial and deep. While the superficial effects only a part of the follicle, the deep type is usually more severe as it involves the entire follicle.
Here is a list of some types of folliculitis starting from the most common to the extreme ones:
- Bacterial folliculitis- This is the most common type of folliculitis that usually starts with a rash and forms into an itchy, pus-filled bump. This causes when the hair follicles become infected with bacteria, usually Staphylococcus aureus (staph). Staph bacteria live on the skin all the time, and they can cause problems if they get to enter the body through a cut or other wound.
- Hot tub rash (pseudomonas folliculitis)- This is a type of rash that turns into itchy bumps that can show after one or two days after exposure to the bacteria. The type of bacteria responsible for hot tub rash is called pseudomonas bacteria and is mostly found in hot tubs, water slides, and heated pools. Basically, all the places where chlorine and pH levels aren’t correct.
- Razor bumps (pseudofolliculitis barbae)- Although this rash could look like folliculitis, these are basically caused by ingrown hairs and not by infected follicles. It generally affects people with curly hair who shave too close. Razor bumps are most noticeable on the face and neck. People who get bikini waxes may get razor bumps in the groin area.
- Pityrosporum (pit-ih-ROS-puh-rum) folliculitis- This type of rash turns into itchy bumps filled with pus, and most often occurs on the back and chest. It is caused by yeast infection.
- Gram-negative folliculitis- This type of folliculitis causes pus-filled bumps around the nose and mouth. Sometimes, it can also be seen in people who are receiving long-term antibiotic therapy for acne.
- Eosinophilic (e-o-sin-o-FILL-ik) folliculitis- This type of folliculitis causes intense itching and recurring patches of bumps and pimples formed near hair follicles- mostly in the face and upper body. People affected with HIV/AIDS often encounter this type of rash. However, the cause of this condition is yet to be completely known.
- Boils (furuncles) and carbuncles- Boils are the extreme cases of bacterial folliculitis, where the hair follicles become deeply infected with staph bacteria. These tend to suddenly appear as a painful inflamed bump. A carbuncle is a cluster of boils.
- Sycosis barbae- This type of rash only affects people who shave.
The basic signs and symptoms of folliculitis are:
- Clusters of small bumps or pimples form around hair follicles.
- Most of these bumps are pus-filled blisters that break open and crust over
- Folliculitis is Itchy, and can even feel like it’s burning skin.\
- It can turn painful on tender skin.
- An inflamed bump
When to see a doctor
Common folliculitis often goes away in a week or two of self-care measures. However, if the symptoms don’t go away, or the case turns more extreme and the condition is widespread, it is time to make an appointment with your doctor. You may need a prescription-strength antibiotic or antifungal medication to help control the condition.
If there are visible signs of spreading infection, seek immediate medical care. The extreme condition involves redness or pain, fever, chills, and a feeling of being unwell (malaise).
Folliculitis is often caused due to bacterial infection in hair follicles, commonly by Staphylococcus aureus (staph). However, it may also be caused by viruses, fungi, parasites, medications, or physical injury. In some cases, the causes are unknown.
As we know by now that the common cause of this condition is a bacterial infection, which makes it clear that the prevention is to clean up well.
Here are a few other things you can do:
- Wash up regularly: If it is hard to take a bath due to the weather or any other reason, use a clean washcloth and towel, wet it, and clean your skin thoroughly. Make sure to not share your towels or washcloths with others.
- Clean laundry: Use hot, soapy water to wash towels, washcloths, and any oil-soaked uniforms or other clothing. Although a piece of cloth worn for an hour might seem okay to not wash, it can also contain harmful bacteria.
- Avoid friction or pressure on your skin: Areas of skin that are prone to folliculitis must be protected from the friction caused by backpacks, helmets, and tight clothes.
- Sweaty palms and rubber gloves: If you wear rubber gloves regularly, turn them inside out after each use, especially if you have sweaty palms. Wash them with soap, rinse them, and dry them well.
- Avoid shaving often: People who face facial folliculitis, need to stop shaving very often. While a clean shaved look might be neat, bumps on the face aren’t, hence, growing a beard seems like an option for you.
- Shave with care: However, if you have to shave, adopt these habits to help control symptoms:-
- Shave less often.
- Wash your skin with warm water and a mild facial cleanser before shaving.
- Use a washcloth or cleansing pad in a gentle circular motion to raise embedded hairs before shaving.
- Apply a good amount of shaving lotion before shaving.
- Shave in the direction of hair growth.
- Avoid shaving too close to the skin. You can use an electric razor or guarded blade to avoid stretching the skin.
- Use a clean sharp blade and rinse it with warm water after each stroke.
- Do not shave the same area more than twice.
- Apply light moisturizer after shaving.
- Do not share your razors, towels, and washcloths with others.
- Use hair-removing products or other methods of hair removal: Beware, they too can irritate the skin.
- Treat what’s triggering the condition: If you could figure out what is triggering your symptoms of folliculitis, treat that condition. For example, excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) can cause folliculitis. You can change sweaty clothes, and bathe daily to prevent this condition. Using antiperspirants is also an option.
- Use only clean hot tubs and heated pools: Condition like hot tub rash develops through untidy tubs and heated pools where chlorine and pH levels are incorrect. Hence, cleaning the places before entering is a solution. Other than that, things you can do include, removing your swimsuit and showering with soap after getting out of the water. Wash your swimsuit too. If you own a hot tub or a heated pool, clean it regularly and add chlorine as recommended.
- Talk to experts: If your folliculitis often returns, visit a doctor. They may suggest controlling bacterial growth in your nose and provide a five-day course of a prescription antibacterial ointment. You may need to use a body wash with chlorhexidine.