Folliculitis occurs when hair follicles become infected, often with Staphylococcus aureus or other bacteria. Certain variations of folliculitis are also known as hot tub folliculitis and barber’s itch. Severe infections can cause permanent hair loss and scarring, and even mild folliculitis can be uncomfortable and embarrassing.
The infection usually appears as small, white-headed pimples around one or more hair follicles — the tiny pockets from which each hair grows. Most cases of folliculitis are superficial, and they may itch, but on occasion they’re painful too. Superficial folliculitis often clears by itself in a few days, but deep or recurring folliculitis may need medical treatment.
Mild cases of folliculitis often clear up without any treatment. But if the infection doesn’t improve despite home care, appears to spread or recurs often, it is recommended you schedule an appointment for an exam. You may need antibiotics or antifungal medications to help control the problem.