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Folliculitis Facts

  • Folliculitis is an inflammation of the hair follicle, a structure composed of cells designed to produce hair.
  • Causes of folliculitis include bacteria, fungi parasites, chemicals, and drugs.
  • Redness, swelling, and pustule formation centered around the hair follicle opening commonly occur with folliculitis.
  • Sometimes folliculitis is due to an auto-inflammatory process and not produced by external toxic factors (acne is an example).
  • Serious folliculitis requires a visit to the doctor.
  • Management of folliculitis requires investigation of the cause. Most folliculitis responds well to treatment.

What Causes Folliculitis?

There are two basic categories of cause of folliculitis, infections and all other causes of hair follicle inflammation. Infections by bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus for example), fungi (yeasts and dermatophytes), viruses (herpes simplex), and parasites (Demodex mites) can cause folliculitis. Noninfectious causes of folliculitis include topical irritants (insoluble cutting oils are an example), physical irritants (hair extraction), certain drugs, teenage pimples (acne vulgaris), and certain auto-inflammatory conditions (folliculitis decalvans).

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/21/2017

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Causes of Folliculitis

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus)

Almost any organ system can be infected by S. aureus. Most frequently, S. aureus strains first infect the skin and its structures (for example, sebaceous glands, hair follicles) or invade damaged skin (cuts, abrasions). Sometimes the infections are relatively limited (such as a sty, boil, furuncle, or carbuncle), but other times they may spread to other skin areas (causing cellulitis, folliculitis, or impetigo).

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