ZocdocAnswersWhat are the symptoms of folliculitis?

Question

What are the symptoms of folliculitis?

I see a lot of red bumps. Could this be it?

Answer

Folliculitis is a term that refers to inflammation of one or more hair follicles. This may go without saying, but the condition only occurs on hair-bearing skin, but can occur anywhere that there is hair-bearing skin. Folliculitis in the strictest sense only refers to inflammation, and not to the actual cause of the inflammation. However most people that use the term use it to infer an infectious etiology. There are multiple different causes of folliculitis, but in general terms they can be divided into 2 large groups: infectious and non-infectious. Infectious folliculitis can be further sub-divided into bacterial, fungal, and viral. The most common causes of bacterial folliculitis are Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Most theorize that for some reason there is an initial insult to the hair follicles (shaving, etc) that causes some damage, and allows bacteria that are already on the skin to enter and cause a small local infection that results in inflammation. Pseudomonas is a bacteria that is thought to be the classic etiologic agent in "hot-tub" folliculitis. A similar process can take place with fungi. Non-infectious folliculitis can be caused by a number of dermatologic problems, and if someones folliculitis does not respond well to antibiotics or antifungals, then a dermatologic consult may be warranted. Regardless of the etiology, folliculitis causes a red rash in hair-bearing skin, with small pimples or pustules around hair follicles. The skin is generally very itchy, and can spread throughout the body without treatment. I would recommend starting with a visit to your primary care physician, then they will refer you to a dermatologist if they think it is warranted. I hope this helps.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.