874034 Health Library | Health and Wellness | Wellmont Health System
  • Folliculitis


    Folliculitis is an inflammation of the hair follicle. It can occur anywhere on your skin or scalp. There are many types of folliculitis.
    nucleus fact sheet image
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


    Folliculitis has many causes. It may be infectious or noninfectious.
    Infectious folliculitis is caused by:
    • Bacteria
    • Fungi
    • Viruses
    • Parasites
    Non-infectious folliculitis may be caused by:
    • Shaving
    • Irritation from clothing
    • Certain medications
    • Chemical exposure
    • Sun exposure
    • Missing nutrients in your diet
    Contact dermatitis (poison ivy), acne, or rosacea may also cause folliculitis.

    Risk Factors

    Factors that may increase your chances of folliculitis include:
    • A suppressed immune system
    • Exposure to bacterial infection
    • Having other skin conditions, especially those that cause a lot of itching
    • Shaving against the direction of hair growth
    • Use of contaminated hot tubs, poorly maintained swimming pools, or contaminated lakes
    • Exposure to oils and chemicals
    • Overuse of topical medications


    Symptoms may include:
    • Itchy, red rash
    • Appearance of crusty sores that don’t heal
    • Pus-filled blisters around the hair follicle


    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Diagnosis may be made by looking at your skin. Testing will help your doctor determine the type and cause of the folliculitis. Other tests may be done to rule out specific skin or health conditions.
    Tests may include:
    • Culture—a swab of an open area to look for infections
    • Smear—a sample an open area is smeared onto a glass slide to be looked at under a microscope
    • Analysis of affected hair
    • Biopsy of affected skin
    • Blood tests


    In most cases, folliculitis is treated with medication. The type of medication depends on the cause of the folliculitis. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment option for you.


    Infectious folliculitis may be treated with:
    Infectious folliculitis may be treated with:
    • Bacterial infections are treated with topical or oral antibiotics
    • Fungal infections are treated with topical or oral antifungal medications
    • Viral infections are treated with oral antiviral medications
    • Parasitic infections are treated with topical or oral antiparasitic medications
    Non-infectious folliculitis may be treated with:
    • Topical corticosteroids
    • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)


    To help reduce your chance of getting folliculitis, take these steps:
    • Be aware of, and avoid exposure to chemicals, especially at work
    • Avoid shaving against direction of hair growth
    • Use proper hygiene and handwashing techniques
    • Clean and maintain pools and hot tubs on a regular basis


    American Academy of Dermatology http://www.aad.org

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov


    Canadian Dermatology Association http://www.dermatology.ca

    Public Health Agency of Canada http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca


    Folliculitis. American Osteopathic College of Dermatology website. Available at: http://www.aocd.org/?page=Folliculitis. Accessed July 9, 2013.

    Folliculitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated October 4, 2010. Accessed July 9, 2013.

    Hot tub rash (Pseudomonas dermatitis/folliculitis). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/rwi/illnesses/hot-tub-rash.html. Updated February 15, 2013. Accessed July 9, 2013.

    Luelmo-Aguilar J, Satandreu MS. Folliculitis: recognition and management. Am J Clin Dermatol. 2004;5(5):301-310.

    Revision Information

  • Join WellZones today.

    Make a Change For LifeLearn more

    Wellmont LiveWell is creating a new tradition of wellness in the mountains by providing individuals with tools and encouragement to live healthier lifestyles.

  • HeartSHAPE Spotlight

    At risk for a heart attack? Learn more

    Fight heart disease early and prevent heart attacks with HeartSHAPE® - a painless, non-invasive test that takes pictures of your heart to scan for early-stage coronary disease.

  • Calories and Energy Needs

    Calorie NeedsLearn more

    How many calories do you need to eat each day to maintain your weight and fuel your physical activity? Enter a few of your stats into this calculator to find out.

  • Ideal Body Weight

    Ideal Body WeightLearn more

    Using body mass index as a reference, this calculator determines your ideal body weight range. All you need to do is enter your height.

  • Body Mass Index

    Body Mass IndexLearn more

    This tool considers your height and weight to assess your weight status.

  • Can we help answer your questions?

    Wellmont Nurse Connection is your resource for valuable health information any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak to a Nurse any time, day or night, at (423) 723-6877 or toll-free at 1-877-230-NURSE.