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Folliculitis, decalvans on the scalp
Folliculitis, decalvans on the scalp


Folliculitis on the leg
Folliculitis on the leg


Definition:

Folliculitis is inflammation of one or more hair follicles. It can occur anywhere on the skin.



Alternative Names:

Pseudofolliculitis barbae; Tinea barbae; Barber's itch



Causes, incidence, and risk factors:

Folliculitis starts when hair follicles are damaged by friction from clothing, blockage of the follicle, or shaving. In most cases of folliculitis, the damaged follicles are then infected with the bacteria Staphylococcus (staph).

Barber's itch is a staph infection of the hair follicles in the beard area of the face, usually the upper lip. Shaving makes it worse. Tinea barbae is similar to barber's itch, but the infection is caused by a fungus.

Pseudofolliculitis barbae is a disorder that occurs mainly in black men. If curly beard hairs are cut too short, they may curve back into the skin and cause inflammation.



Symptoms:

Common symptoms include a rash , itching, and pimples or pustules near a hair follicle in the neck, groin, or genital area. The pimples may crust over.



Signs and tests:

A diagnosis is primarily based on how the skin looks. Lab tests may show which bacteria or fungus is causing the infection.



Treatment:

Hot, moist compresses may promote drainage of the affected follicles. Treatment may include antibiotics applied to the skin (mupirocin) or taken by mouth (dicloxacillin), or antifungal medications to control the infection.



Support Groups:



Expectations (prognosis):

Folliculitis usually responds well to treatment, but may come back.



Complications:
  • Folliculitis may return
  • Infection may spread to other body areas


Calling your health care provider:

Apply home treatment and call your health care provider if symptoms come back frequently, if they last longer than 2 or 3 days, or if the infection spreads.



Prevention:

To prevent further damage to the hair follicles and infection:

  • Reduce friction from clothing
  • Avoid shaving the area if possible (if shaving is necessary, use a clean, new razor blade or an electric razor each time)
  • Keep the area clean
  • Avoid contaminated clothing and washcloths


References:

Habif TP. Bacterial infections. In: Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2004: chap 9.

Swartz MN, Pasternack MS. Cellulitis and subcutaneous tissue infections. In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds. Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2005: chap 86.




Review Date: 11/16/2008
Reviewed By: Linda Vorvick, MD, Family Physician, Seattle Site Coordinator, Lecturer, Pathophysiology, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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