Folliculitis or inflamed hair follicles present as red and swollen bumps anywhere on the body that has hair follicles, but most commonly in areas that are shaved frequently. While folliculitis may be inflammatory, bacteria or pityrosporum are also to blame in some cases.

Shaving, skin injuries and tight clothing increase the risk of folliculitis. While bacteria, such as staphylococcus live on our skin and warm moist areas, they can become pathogenic and cause injury and skin infections. Other offenders that often cause folliculitis are as follows:

  • Skin products like moisturizers with oils that cause blockages of the hair follicle

  • Fungus, such as pityrosporum

  • Hair removal like shaving, waxing, plucking

  • Ingrown hairs

Folliculitis may be itchy, tender and painful – it often appears as one of the following:

  • Groups of small red bumps, like pimples, some may have white heads on them

  • Blisters that break open, ooze and then become crusty

  • Large areas of red, swollen skin that may leak pus

Mild folliculitis can be treated at home with steps that will help the body heal and ease any discomfort:

  • Clean the affected area twice daily with warm water and an antibacterial soap – use a fresh, clean towel each time

  • Hydrocortisone cream or an oatmeal-based lotion to help with itch

  • Benzoyl peroxide wash or other antibacterial wash

  • Avoid shaving or scratching the area

  • Loofah or other mild sponge used in the shower to massage the hairs in a circular manner and loosen them from the hair shaft

  • If shaving is essential, use a single-blade razor and shave in the direction of the hairs. Dispose of the razor after each usage.

If these at home methods of treatment are not successful you should see your doctor who may perform a culture and/or biopsy and prescribe a stronger regimen such as:

  • Oral or topical antibiotics

  • Antifungal creams or pills

  • Steroid creams to reduce inflammation

  • Consideration of laser hair removal or waxing