Infected Hair Follicle – What Is It?
Hair follicle is a sac from which hair root stems out, into which the sebaceous glands open. This is a tiny sebum-producing gland found everywhere except on the lips, palms, and in the feet (soles). A hair follicle’s main function involves regulation of body temperature and lubrication of the skin. Since the skin is open to air, so is the hair follicle susceptible to various bacteria, viruses, or fungi, which cause infections.
Infection of a hair follicle is known as a furuncle or a boil. The follicle then becomes inflamed and bacteria sets in causing pus. A cluster of these furuncles are called as carbuncle. These furuncles can be very painful, itching at times too, and such condition is termed as Folliculitis. Furuncles occur in the hair follicles all over the body, but they are commonly found on parts such as
- Buttocks and
Folliculitis Can Be The Root Cause of
- Hair loss
Hair Follicle Infection – How are They Caused?
- Staphyloccocus aureus (bacteria) is the main cause of hair follicle infection, which causes itchy, white bumps. In areas of male beard, this is called barber’s itch.
- Pseudomonas aeruginosa (bacteria) also known as hot tub folliculitis found in unhygienic spas/pools/whirlpools is another cause of hair follicle infection, which is clear with a red itchy bumpy rash that might develop into a pus-filled blister.
- Tinea barbae (Ringworm of the Beard) is caused by fungus in the beard area, which is seen by white, itchy bumps surrounded by reddened skin.
- Pseudofolliculitis barbae (Barber’s itch) is inflammation of the hair follicles due to an ingrown beard. In rare cases, hair removal can leave keloid scars.
- Pityrosporum folliculitis is caused due to yeast fungus and is a common chronic, red, itchy pustule condition. Breakouts are regularly seen on back and chest areas. Deep folliculitis has the potential to leave you with an after-infection scar.
- Gram-negative folliculitis is a deep overgrowth of harmful bacteria, which, on rare occasion, manifests itself after long-term antibiotic treatments, commonly for acne.
- Herpetic folliculitis is caused by shaving through a cold sore, which has the potential to spread herpes simplex virus to nearby hair follicles.
Symptoms of Hair Follicle Infection
- Itching sensation is prevalent before the boils or swellings in the infected area.
- The surrounding skin of the infected area becomes very painful, this worsens as the boil starts to enlarge.
- Fever and general weakness symptoms may be prevalent due to the infection.
- Red and itchy pustules can be seen as a result of infection.
Treatment of Hair Follicle Infection
- In case of mild infection, time will rule out the infection.
- In case of a painful infection, a visit to the doctor is mandatory.
- Antibiotic creams application are effective for smaller areas of infection.
- In case of infection spread over a large area, antiseptics in the form of lotions or creams should be applied after properly cleaning the area.
- In frequent recurrence of infections, use antibiotics to rule out the causes of infection.
- If the infection persists and the pustule does not drain on its own, a surgical incision has to be made to drain out the pus.
- For HIV/AIDS infected patients, antivirals are to be prescribed for such frequent outbreaks.
Home Care of Hair Follicle Infection
- Warm salt water soaks upto 30 minutes, and warm salt water cloth compresses. Ensure that the wash cloth is clean.
- If one has itchy infection, mix equal quantities of vinegar and water and do compresses.
- Tea tree oil is a good antibiotic and antiseptic, and can be applied on the infections for quick relief.
- In case of scalp infection, use antibacterial shampoos.
Precautionary Measures for Hair follicle Infection
- Hygiene plays a major role in prevention of folliculitis.
- Avoid sharing of bath towels, razors, combs, etc.