Infected Hair Follicle Symptoms and Causes

In medical terms, infected hair follicle is called “folliculitis”. Hair follicle infection is a common problem and due infection (by bacteria, fungus etc.) the infected hair follicle become inflamed, red and sometime painful. Folliculitis can occur in any area of skin where hair follicles are present, but common sites of hair follicle infection are legs, bearded area (known as sycosis barbae, when it is due to shaving beard which is a common problem among males), buttocks and scalp. Folliculitis do not occur in areas where hair follicles are absent such as palms and soles of feet.

What are the symptoms of infected hair follicles?

The symptoms of infected hair follicles may vary according to the causative agent, site of infection, e.g. scalp. The symptoms of infected hair follicles include pain, blisters (usually filled with pus), and swelling of the infected area, crust formation (when pus filled blisters break, pus comes out and on drying crust forms).

What are the causative agents of folliculitis?

Different situations and conditions can lead to folliculitis, such as shaving, tight clothing, excessive sweating and skin problems such as acne, dermatitis, unhygienic adhesive dressing etc. Any of the above mentioned condition combined with unhygienic personal habits can lead to folliculitis. The commonest causative agent of folliculitis is a bacterium, Staphylococcus Aureus. Several other different bacteria, fungus and some viruses can also case folliculitis.

Different causative agents and typical symptoms due to them:

Bacterial causes:

  • Staphylococcal folliculitis: white pus filled blister which is severely itchy in nature, which may crust.
  • Pseudomonas folliculitis: red, round and itchy hair follicles.

Fungal causes:

  • Tinea barbae folliculitis: white and itchy hair follicles.
  • Pityrosporum folliculitis: pus filled hair follicles commonly seen in chest, neck and back area.
  • Pseudofolliculitis barbae: commonly seen in face and neck, especially with scars.

Viral causes:

  • Herpetic folliculitis: due to herpes virus and commonly seen in face, shoulders and upper arms and blisters filled with clear fluid.


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