Dr. M.J. Bazos, MD Patient Handout


About Your Diagnosis
Folliculitis is a common skin infection of the hair follicles (base of the hair). It is usually a mild infection caused by staphylococcal bacteria after a break in the skin. Certain bacteria in hot tubs or pools can lead to folliculitis. Pseudofolliculitis resembles folliculitis but is actually a reaction to shaving with razors, and is treated differently than folliculitis. A doctor can usually make the diagnosis with visual inspection of the skin, but sometimes a sample of a pustule is taken for culture. Mild folliculitis may resolve without treatment, but antibiotics may be required to quicken the cure. The risk of folliculitis is higher in patients with diabetes, poor hygiene, and certain chronic illnesses.

Living With Your Diagnosis
In patients with folliculitis, there are many small, white, pus-filled bumps (pustules) surrounded by red or pink skin. Hairs may be seen near or in a pustule. Folliculitis can occur anywhere on the body. Sometimes the pustules can be painful. Although there are no long-term effects of folliculitis, recurrences are common.

Mild cases are treated with antibiotic creams such as over-the-counter bacitracin or Burow’s solution. In moderate-to-severe cases, antibiotics by mouth clear the infection in 1–2 weeks with minimal side effects.

The DOs
• Bathe at least once per day during and after treatment.
• Use an antibacterial soap.
• Gently remove crusts or pustules with a washcloth while bathing.
• After drying off apply medication.
• Clean and wash clothing and bedding regularly.
• Replace old razors. They can worsen the problem.
• If you are diabetic, follow your diet carefully and take your medication.

The DON’Ts
• Don’t scratch affected areas. This can cause the infection to spread. Use cool compresses to help with itching.
• Don’t shave red, tender, or swollen areas until they are healed.
• Don’t share towels or clothing while infected because this can spread infection to others.

When to Call Your Doctor
• If fever develops during treatment.
• If the infection spreads or a pus pocket develops during treatment.
• If folliculitis recurs after treatment.