What is Folliculitis?

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What is Folliculitis?

There are only a few species of bacteria that infect healthy skin. Hair follicles are most vulnerable to such bacterial infection, and folliculitis is one such infection.


Folliculitis develops at a hair follicle as a small red bump or pimple. One of the treatments is to pull the hair from the skin, accompanied by some pus, and the infection goes away without further complication.

Sometimes, however, the infection spreads to underneath tissue causing swelling, redness, pain, severe tenderness and the lesion becomes a boil or furuncle; pus may begin to drain from the infected site. If the skin is thick, such as the back of the neck of part of the leg, a carbuncle may develop. Fever may accompany serious infection.

Causative Agent

Most carbuncles and furuncles and other cases of folliculitis develop from Staphylococcus aureus, this is a bit different from the regular staphylococcus found on the skin - mostly within the nostrils. This S. aureus is a "big name" among all the serious medical conditions, as most of the important skin infections are caused by it.

How the infection begins

Infection starts when staphylococci attach to the cells of a hair follicle. Infection spreads to the oil-secreting sebaceous glands lying underneath the hair follicle. Symptoms such as redness, pain and swelling begin to appear as blood cells like polymorphonuclear leukocytes accumulate at the site of infection. As time advances, the follicle swells with inflammatory cells and necrotic tissue, and pus develops. I believe, this would be the right time to seek treatment.

If left untreated, the infection spreads to nearby hair follicles and a carbuncle develops. If causative organisms enter the blood stream, the infection may spread to other parts of the body such as the heart, brain and the bones.

Prevention and Cure

The prevention of S. aureus infection is not easy. A few steps taken are applying antibiotic cream (antistaphylococcal cream in particular) to the nostrils and using antibacterial soaps to bathe the skin. Another treatment would be to surgically remove pus from the infected site. And eat healthy!

Additional Readings:

Basic Bacteriology

1. Bacterial Locations and Toxins
2. Growth Medias and Oxygen Requirements
3. Staphylococus
4. Streptococcus
5. Enterococcus
6. Bacillus
7. Listeria
8. Corynebacterium
9. Actinomyces
10. Nocadria
11. Mycobacterium
12. Clostridium
13. Neisseria
14. Pseudomonas
15. Legionella
16. Bordetella
17. Francisella
18. Brucella
19. Campylobacter
20. Escherichia
21. Shigella
22. Klebsiella
23. Salmonella
24. Yersinia
25. Proteus
26. Vibrio
27. Pasteurella
28. Haemophilus
29. Bacteriodes and Prevotella
30. Treponema
31. Borrelia
32. Rickettsia
33. Coxiella
34. Ehrlichia
35. Chlamydia
36. Mycoplasma
37. What is an ELEK's Test?
38. Causes of Orchitis
39. What is Leprosy?
40. What is Folliculitis?
41. What is Botulism?
42. How to interpret PPD (Purified Protein Derivative) results?
43. Prenatal Infections

Related Topics

1. Bacterial vs viral infections

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