Folliculitis is a common skin disorder brought on by an inflammation of the hair follicles. It may be caused by bacterial, viral, or yeast infections, sometimes by a combination of the three. The inflammation causes pustules (pus-filled bumps) on the hair follicle. It may involve an ingrown hair trying to break through. Folliculitis can typically occur on any part of the body where hair grows, but it can cause temporary or permanent hair loss when it appears on your scalp. Although it sounds alarming, folliculitis can be treated, with the method of treatment determined by the severity of the condition. This article will discuss scalp folliculitis.
How Do I Identify Folliculitis?
Folliculitis appears on your scalp as small red bumps or white-headed pimples. The bumps may be very itchy. They may also present as pus-filled sores with a yellowish scab. There is usually tenderness and pain around the infected area, together with a feeling of itchiness. Resist the temptation to scratch, as this will cause crusts to form on top of the itchy bumps. If left untreated, folliculitis can spread, become chronic and cause your hair to start falling out.
If folliculitis develops at the base of your scalp, you may be experiencing acne keloidalis. If it affects your anterior hairline and scalp, it may be acne necrotica you are dealing with.
The exact cause of this condition remains a medical mystery. It starts with itchy raised bumps forming around the hairline at the back of your neck. These bumps become scars, causing the hair on the scars and in the surrounding area to fall off with time. The scars will then start to enlarge and toughen, rising above the skin to look like keloids.
The condition is most common in males, especially those of African descent, and in males with stiff, tight, curly hair. It mostly occurs in early adulthood. High levels of testosterone are one indicator of this condition; a family history of acne keloidalis is another indication that you may be more prone to it.
Some medications have been linked to this condition, so speak with your doctor about possible side effects of your medications if you suspect you have acne keloidalis. Your doctor can advise you on the treatment options available to you.
Acne necrotica is also known as acne frontalis and is a more severe form of scalp folliculitis. Again, it occurs most often in adult males, less so in females, and localises specifically on the frontal hairline. Large papules develop and quickly become inflamed before forming into black crusts. Eventually, the papules heal, leaving permanent scars resembling smallpox on the skin. This type of folliculitis is generally difficult to treat at home, so it’s vital to visit a dermatologist as soon as you suspect you have it.
How Do I Treat Folliculitis?
Take time to reflect on any of your personal care habits that may leave you open to folliculitis. For instance, too many hair products may clog the hair follicles, so try to cut down on those. Allow time between shaves to avoid the razor bump caused by ingrown hairs. Braiding may be beautiful, but avoid wearing your braids too tight. Ponytails too can pull on your hair. Above all, keep your hands to yourself and don’t scratch!
- Essential oils – Use essential oils that have both antibacterial and antifungal properties to control folliculitis. Tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil and chamomile oil amongst others may have a calming effect on the infected area.
- Warm compress – Apply a warm towel as a compress to the infected area for several minutes. This may soothe the scalp and relieve itching.
- Good hygiene – Practising good hygiene is the way to go. Gently wash the area to reduce the infection. Dry out your scalp with a clean towel, then wash all your towels after use. Make sure your hands are clean!
Professional Medical Treatments
Use of prescribed corticosteroid creams, soaps and lotions may alleviate folliculitis symptoms such as itching, swelling and redness.
#Topical antifungal ointments
You might want to utilise a prescription antifungal for bad folliculitis and allow a doctor to monitor the treatment progress.
An antibacterial cleanser may be necessary to contain folliculitis. There are known topical antibiotics on the market that help with itching. For severe cases, your physician may prescribe oral antibiotics to treat infections deeper in the skin, especially if you have compromised immunity. This might also help for cases of recurring folliculitis.
Light therapy kills the bacteria and fungus on the scalp.
A minor incision to drain the pus and relieve pressure under the skin may be necessary for large papules. This procedure relieves pain and shortens the recovery period.
Although scalp folliculitis is not life-threatening, bacterial infections may lead to sepsis if left untreated or handled badly. However, these are rare cases. If you are prone to medical problems that make you susceptible to infections, see your doctor or dermatologist right away for a full check-up. Meanwhile, keep your scalp clean and dry. Avoid any irritations and abrasions.
Folliculitis can have serious complications, so always seek professional medical support. A visit to your trichologist will help get the situation under control before the risk to your hair materialises. For any hair loss concerns, book your free consultation with Vinci Hair Clinic today!