Folliculitis is the inflammation of a hair follicle caused by bacterial or viral infection, chemical irritation, or physical injury. Scalp folliculitis is characterized by the appearance of small, white or yellowish pustules, that resemble acne. The pustules can be quite itchy and painful at times. In severe cases, the development of large and hard bumps on the scalp can lead to scarring and hair loss.
What is the cause of Scalp Folliculitis?
The cause of scalp folliculitis is not well understood. It is generally considered to be an inflammatory reaction to components of the hair follicle, particularly the micro-organisms. These include:
- Bacteria (especially Propionibacterium acnes, but in severe cases, also Staphylococcus aureus)
- Yeasts (Malassezia species)
- Mites (Demodex folliculorum)
Scalp Folliculitis symptoms:
Scalp folliculitis may occur in the upper part of the hair follicle (superficial), or it may occur deeper in the skin that surrounds the infected follicle. So the symptoms may vary according to these types. The former is characterized by the formation of small red bumps around the infected follicles, blisters filled with pus, skin reddening and getting inflamed, and itchiness. The other infection, that begins deeper in the skin is marked by a swollen mass that is relatively larger in size, pus-filled blisters, and pain. Here, there is also a possibility of scar formation after the infection clears.
Scalp Folliculitis Treatment:
- To treat the bacterial infection, a topical antibiotic such as mupirocin or an oral antibiotic such as dicloxacillin, penicillin, methicillin or vancomycin may be prescribed. According to MayoClinic.com, Staphylococcus bacteria are very adaptable to antibiotics, often requiring stronger and more toxic medications. Testing is important to identify the bacteria causing the infection in order to best choose the antibiotic that will be most effective.
- Treating scalp folliculitis requires diligent infection control and inflammation relief. This condition can best be avoided by using mild, fragrance and dye-free shampoo and washing hair regularly. Because scratching of the scalp will only worsen the condition, the urge to scratch should be resisted. Keep the scalp uncovered whenever possible, allowing the skin to breathe.
- For the duration of your scalp folliculitis, you can use a shampoo containing salicylic acid. Once your condition has cleared, you can use a regular shampoo. You also may find good use out of anti-dandruff shampoos containing antifungal agents such as ketoconazole or ciclopirox.
- If you have a persistent case of scalp folliculitis that bothers you, visit your doctor. Your doctor will take your medical history and try to determine if the infection is related to a bacteria or fungus. Once this has been determined, an appropriate treatment plan will be created. Most of the time, treatment consists of treating the infection with an over the counter topical cream that is applied to the affected area daily.