Folliculitis: Causes, Symptoms and Prevention

Folliculitis is the inflammation of a hair follicle caused by a bacterial or viral infection, chemical irritation, or physical injury.

The most common form of infectious folliculitis is staphylococcal folliculitis, which occurs most often in people with diabetes.


The most affected are the scalp, face, legs (thighs and inguinal area), and trunk (back, chest, armpit). The inflammation can be superficial or deep in the hair follicle. The scarring can be caused by scratching or deep inflammation. Usually, there is no fever or other systemic symptoms.

The Pseudofolliculitis beard is a condition that typically occurs in African American men and manifests itself with ingrown hairs after keloid formation inflammation. The most recommended is to avoid shaving altogether, and better to use a spacer to prevent ingrown hairs caused by shaving too close to the skin.

The folliculitis subtypes are the following:

  • Staphylococcal folliculitis.
  • Gram negative folliculitis.
  • Pseudomonas folliculitis.
  • Herpetic folliculitis (usually occurs in men with cold pain after shaving).
  • Folliculitis irritant.
  • Folliculitis due to molluscum contagiosum.
  • Syphilitic folliculitis.
  • Eosinophilic folliculitis.
  • Folliculitis of jacuzzi.


All ages can be affected, although it is more common during the post-pubertal years. The hot and humid climates predispose to folliculitis.

The most common causes:


  • Physical damage to the skin can lead to the introduction of bacteria.
  • Staphylococcus infection (superficial folliculitis).
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa in ‘jacuzzi’ folliculitis.
  • Irritating folliculitis is a product of chemical agents (e.g., tar, cutting oils)
  • Molluscum contagiosum can lead to folliculitis.
  • Fungal infections can cause dermatitis.

Causes serious:

  • Folliculitis can be caused by syphilis.
  • Herpes is a severe cause of folliculitis, resulting in vesicles and pustules.
  • Staphylococcus infection (in superficial folliculitis).
  • Lack of hygiene, obesity, sweat, and friction.
  • Systemic steroids used for the treatment of acne can cause steroid folliculitis.
  • People with AIDS are susceptible to eosinophilic folliculitis, which is highly pruritic and typically occurs in the trunk.
  • Diabetes mellitus (type 1 or type 2) is a risk factor.


Folliculitis generally responds to antiseptic washes, hot compresses, and topical antibiotics. Adequate antibiotic therapy is required for immunosuppression patients or moderates to severe folliculitis.

Prevention measures

Some risk factors can be avoided (for example, with reasonable glycemic control in patients with diabetes). Good personal hygiene is the best preventive measure, especially in hot and humid climates or in situations that could lead to the transmission of others (for example, showers and changing rooms in gyms).

    • Avoid sharing personal items (towels, razor)
    • Avoid exposure to other probable sources of contamination, or ensure that they have been appropriately cleaned (e.g., wrestling mats and other equipment used in contact sports, whirlpools)