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Folliculitis: Care Instructions

Anatomy of the skin, including a hair follicle

Your Care Instructions

Folliculitis (say "fuh-LIK-yuh-LY-tus") is an infection of the pouches (follicles) in the skin where hair grows. It can occur on any part of the body, but it is most common on the scalp, face, armpits, and groin. Bacteria, such as those found in a hot tub, can cause folliculitis.

Folliculitis begins as a red, tender area near a strand of hair. The skin can itch or burn and may drain pus or blood. Sometimes folliculitis can lead to more serious skin infections.

Your doctor usually can treat mild folliculitis with an antibiotic cream or ointment. If you have folliculitis on your scalp, you may use a shampoo that kills bacteria. Antibiotics you take as pills can treat infections deeper in the skin.

For stubborn cases of folliculitis, laser treatment may be an option. Laser treatment uses strong beams of light to destroy the hair follicle. But hair will no longer grow in the treated area.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Take your medicine exactly as prescribed. If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • Use a soap that kills bacteria to wash the infected area. If your scalp or beard is infected, use a shampoo with selenium or propylene glycol. Be careful. Do not scrub too long or too hard.
  • Mix 320 millilitres warm water and 1 tablespoon vinegar. Soak a cloth in the mixture, and place it over the infected skin until it cools off (usually 5 to 10 minutes). You can do this 3 to 6 times a day.
  • Do not share your razor, towel, or face cloth. That can spread folliculitis.
  • Use a new blade in your razor each time you shave to keep from re-infecting your skin.
  • If you tend to get folliculitis, avoid using hot tubs. They can contain bacteria that cause folliculitis.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have symptoms of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the area.
    • Pus draining from the area.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.