What is folliculitis?
A hair follicle is where a hair grows out from your skin. Folliculitis is inflammation or infection in a hair follicle. When due to infection, it's a type of very small skin abscess Skin Abscesses This photo shows infected, inflamed hair follicles caused by a bacterial infection. A hair follicle is where a hair grows out from your skin. Folliculitis is inflammation or infection in a hair... read more .
Folliculitis is usually caused by infection with bacteria
Sometimes, stiff hairs can reenter the skin (ingrown hairs) after shaving and cause folliculitis that isn't infected
"Hot tub folliculitis" is a type of folliculitis that is caused by certain bacteria that can grow in a hot tub or whirlpool
Folliculitis looks like a tiny red or white pimple at the base of a hair
Infected follicles are itchy or slightly painful
Antibiotic lotion or gel usually cures folliculitis
What causes folliculitis?
Most types of folliculitis are caused by bacteria, usually Staphylococcus bacteria (staph infection). Other types of bacteria and fungus can also cause folliculitis.
You usually get folliculitis where your skin is moist or irritated from rubbing, such as the skin that's under sports equipment or on your buttocks. Or you can get folliculitis if you:
Have injuries to your skin
Have certain skin conditions such as acne
Need to keep your skin covered with adhesive tape or rubber gloves
Have a condition or take medicines that weaken your immune system
What are the symptoms of folliculitis?
Tiny red or white pimples in a hair follicle
The pimples can be itchy or slightly painful
You may have one or many infected follicles
If infected follicles get bigger and go deeper, they can become skin abscesses Skin Abscesses This photo shows infected, inflamed hair follicles caused by a bacterial infection. A hair follicle is where a hair grows out from your skin. Folliculitis is inflammation or infection in a hair... read more (boils)
How do doctors treat folliculitis?
Doctors may have you:
Wash your body with antibacterial soap
Wet a washcloth with warm salt water and apply it to the folliculitis a few times a day
Put antibiotic cream on your skin
Take antibiotics by mouth, if you have a large area of infected follicles
If you regularly get ingrown hairs, doctors may have you:
Stop shaving for a while
Take antibiotics, if the follicles are infected
Hot tub folliculitis will go away on its own. Check and fix the chlorine level of the hot tub to prevent other people from getting folliculitis.
What are skin abscesses?
Skin abscesses are pockets of pus in your skin. Pus is a thick fluid your body makes when it fights infection. You can also have abscesses inside your body.
Skin abscesses are caused by a bacterial infection, usually due to Staphylococcus bacteria (staph infection)
Sometimes, you get the bacteria through a break in the skin or a hair follicle (where the hair grows out)
Abscesses are painful bumps full of pus
Doctors will cut the abscess open to drain the pus and sometimes also give you antibiotics
Some staphylococcus bacteria called MRSA aren't killed by the usual medicine and may need special antibiotics
Two specific kinds of skin abscesses are:
Furuncles (boils): skin abscesses that form around hair follicles
Carbuncles: more than one furuncle connected together deeper in the skin
Bacteria may spread from a skin abscess and infect other tissue and organs in your body.
If the infection gets into the blood stream, you can have high fever, low blood pressure, and organ failure ( sepsis Sepsis Sepsis is when germs (bacteria) get into your bloodstream and trigger a serious body-wide reaction. When sepsis is severe, one or more of your organs may shut down. For example, your kidneys... read more ).
You may get skin abscesses over and over again for unknown reasons.
What causes skin abscesses?
Skin abscesses are caused by a bacterial infection, usually due to Staphylococcus (staph infection). The type of staphylococcus known as MRSA is resistant to many antibiotics and can be hard to treat.
You're more likely to get infected if you:
Live in a crowded space
Have a chronic (long lasting) skin disease
Already have the bacteria in your nose
Have a weakened immune system
Are very overweight
Are a senior citizen
What are the symptoms of skin abscesses?
Skin abscesses can be anywhere on your body.
They are red, swollen bumps that hurt a lot and are very tender to touch
Furuncles are red, shiny, and usually less than an inch across
Abscesses that aren't furuncles can grow up to 2 or 3 inches
If not treated, abscesses get bigger, break open, and let the pus out
You may have a fever and feel sick
How do doctors treat skin abscesses?
If the abscess is small, doctors will have you put mild heat, such as a warm cloth or hot water bottle, on it. If that doesn't work, doctors will:
Cut the skin abscess open and drain the pus
Wash out the pus pocket with a salt solution
Doctors may also put gauze in the pocket for 1 to 2 days to keep it open so that it will continue to drain.
Most skin abscesses don't need antibiotics. However, doctors may give you antibiotics if:
You have many abscesses
If you get skin abscesses again and again, doctors will:
Have you to wash your skin with antiseptic liquid soap
Give you antibiotics for 1 to 2 months