Hair follicle inflammation is usually positive and heals on its own. Preventive measures can reduce the risk of hair follicle inflammation.
What is hair follicle infection?
Hair follicle inflammation is also referred to in medicine as folliculitis. Characteristically, a hair follicle inflammation manifests itself in a reddened nodule that is located around a hair.
This nodule usually encloses a pustule that appears yellowish-green. In many cases, hair follicle inflammation is associated with mild pain or itching. Hair follicle inflammation can occur on any part of the body that is covered by hair.
However, the face, neck, buttocks and/or legs and arms are more frequently affected by the inflammation. Depending on the part of the body where hair follicle inflammation develops, this can also be a cosmetic nuisance for the person affected.
Hair follicle inflammation is usually caused by a bacterial infection. In rarer cases, however, various fungi or viruses (such as the herpes virus) can also lead to hair follicle inflammation. Medicine believes that some people are very susceptible to developing hair follicle disease, while other people rarely or never develop the infection.
Hair follicle inflammation can be promoted, for example, by various methods of hair removal; in particular, these include methods in which the hair is removed together with its roots. Small, superficial wounds can form at the site of a removed hair, making it easier for germs to enter the body and cause hair follicle infection. It is also possible that regrowing hair does not penetrate the skin and/or continues to grow on the sides underneath the skin. A possible consequence of this is hair follicle inflammation.
Factors that can increase the risk of hair follicle infection include conditions such as diabetes or acne. In addition to various medications such as cortisone, a tropical, warm, humid climate can also promote hair follicle inflammation.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
A hair follicle inflammation is usually noticed by those affected by the noticeable redness. Typically, a furuncle forms, which fills with pus as the disease progresses. The inflammation itself causes increasing pain and an uncomfortable feeling of pressure. If the furuncle breaks inwards, an effusion can form.
If the course is severe, blood poisoning occurs, which is expressed by an acute feeling of illness, fever and a number of other symptoms and must be treated immediately. In the further course of a hair follicle inflammation, beard lichen can form. In addition, other skin changes sometimes occur that significantly affect the well-being of the patient.
Some of those affected feel ill or suffer from severe itching, which increases in intensity as the disease progresses. This can cause the patient to scratch the boil, which in turn can cause infection. The external blemish can cause social anxiety or upsets in those affected. Chronic illnesses can lead to depression. In most cases, hair follicle inflammation is harmless. It resolves itself after a few days and does not result in any further symptoms.
Diagnosis & History
Hair follicle inflammation is usually diagnosed by the dermatologist based on the visible symptoms.
If it is to be examined which germs have led to a corresponding inflammation, this can be done using various laboratory methods: For example, so-called cultures can be created from swabs from the hair follicle inflammation; the corresponding culture then reveals the pathogen present.
Hair follicle inflammation can usually be treated successfully without leaving visible scars. In people with darker skin types, however, pigmentation disorders can appear in the corresponding area after hair follicle inflammation.
If the course is mild and there are no underlying diseases, hair follicle inflammation often heals by itself. In more severe cases, hair follicle inflammation can spread to surrounding tissue, for example, so that a boil develops.
In most cases, the hair follicle does not cause any particular complications or symptoms. This inflammation usually subsides on its own, so that no further treatment is necessary for the patient. Severe symptoms that require medical treatment only occur in rare cases. As a rule, the patient suffers from pustules that appear directly on the hair follicle.
However, there is no pain or other discomfort. In some cases, the inflammation of the hair follicles can also cause a lichen, which must be treated medically. Furthermore, the patient can also suffer from a pigment disorder. This is not dangerous and does not represent any particular complication for the patient. In the case of treatment of hair follicle inflammation, medication is used.
These lead relatively quickly to a positive course of the disease, with no particular complications occurring. The symptoms disappear relatively quickly and there are no consequential damages. Life expectancy is also not reduced or affected by hair follicle inflammation. However, the treatment does not guarantee that the hair follicle inflammation will not occur again in the patient later in life.
When should you go to the doctor?
Since the hair follicle inflammation can also spread to other regions of the body and it usually does not heal itself, the disease should always be examined by a doctor. Without treatment, hair loss can also occur. A doctor should be consulted for hair follicle inflammation if pustules form on the hair.
Furuncles can also occur and be associated with pain. In many cases, itching on the scalp also indicates a hair follicle infection. This inflammation can also spread to the beard if left untreated. If the symptoms also occur in the area of the beard, a visit to a doctor is also necessary. As a rule, the disease can be treated by a dermatologist or by a general practitioner. Since in some cases the symptoms can also lead to psychological upsets or depression, psychological treatment is advisable in this case.
Treatment & Therapy
As a rule, an inflammation of the hair follicle can be treated sufficiently by applying certain active ingredients locally. Which active ingredient is used in the individual case depends primarily on the type of germ that caused the hair follicle inflammation; while an inflammation caused by bacteria can be counteracted, for example, with creams/ointments containing antibiotics, fungicidal (antimycotic) substances are useful if the inflammation was caused by a fungus.
In severe cases, it can make sense to treat hair follicle inflammation not only locally, but systemically (affecting the whole body); in the case of bacterial hair follicle inflammation, this is possible, for example, by administering antibiotics in tablet form.
So-called phototherapy can also be successful in the treatment of hair follicle inflammation; The part of the body affected by the inflammation is irradiated with infrared or UV light for approx. 10 to 15 minutes. Irradiation with UV light has, among other things, a germicidal effect.
Other treatment options for hair follicle inflammation are offered by alternative medical disciplines such as herbal medicine: ointments containing essential oils from myrrh and/or rosemary are considered effective in combating inflammation.
Outlook & Forecast
The prospects of success in overcoming hair follicle inflammation can be classified as good. Local treatment is usually sufficient. If persistent, antibiotics should be given. This affects the entire body. To a limited extent, people can make a contribution to avoiding hair follicle inflammation.
In most cases, a hair follicle infection heals on its own. A doctor does not need to be consulted. The focus of inflammation bursts after some time and heals. A small scar remains. Ointments with antiseptic and antibiotic additives can support recovery. They prevent germs from spreading.
Risk patients are usually people with a reduced immune system. Statistically, smokers and people with an unhealthy lifestyle are also affected much more frequently. Irrespective of age, hair follicle inflammation can develop chronically in them. Cases in which bacteria enter the bloodstream via a wound are unfavorable. However, the resulting blood poisoning is very rare.
Those affected can help prevent the infection from spreading. This improves the prospects. General hygiene standards must be observed for this. Using fresh laundry and washing your hands several times a day is important.
In direct form, hair follicle inflammation can only be prevented to a limited extent. However, the risk of inflammation can be reduced by removing hair using methods such as wet shaving; here the risk of the skin being injured and germs penetrating the wound is comparatively low.
Hair follicle inflammation usually does not require comprehensive aftercare. After the doctor has opened the pustule or boil and disinfected the skin area, the inflammation should heal quickly on its own. The patient should make another visit to the doctor so that complications can be ruled out. In addition, it is sufficient to clean the affected area regularly and, depending on the severity of the inflammation, to treat it with an ointment or another preparation.
If the inflammation does not subside, the doctor must be consulted. Antibiotics may be required for recurring boils. The patient should also consult a dermatologist. The specialist can perform an examination of the skin and thereby determine the cause of the recurring hair follicle inflammation.
Typically, however, boils or pustules can be treated well and do not require any follow-up care. People who suffer from the hemophilia need to make sure there is no further inflammation to reduce the risk of a complication. The same applies to people with an immune deficiency. If the inflammation spreads, close observation of the body is necessary after medical treatment. Fever and other warning signs indicate blood poisoning and must be clarified.
You can do that yourself
Hair follicle inflammation does not always have to be treated by a doctor. In the case of a fresh furuncle, the discharge of the purulent content can be promoted with the help of moist compresses and ointment. Warm milk, cabbage, figs and flaxseed also help against a boil. Natural household remedies are, for example, black tea bags or wraps with chamomile and lemon balm, which are simply placed on the affected area of skin. A visit to the sauna opens the pores and allows the contents to flow out painlessly.
The inflammation usually subsides quickly with regular use of these remedies – but there is a risk that the bacteria will spread and lead to the formation of further boils. For this reason, the surrounding skin should be carefully disinfected after contact and clothing, bedding and towels should be washed in hot water. If a spot of pus has already formed, the inflammation can be opened with the help of a needle.
This should also be disinfected beforehand – preferably by holding it over a flame or rubbing it with disinfectant from the pharmacy. An effective remedy from homeopathy is St. John’s wort tincture, which is best applied to the boil in the form of a gauze bandage. In the case of severe hair follicle inflammation, a doctor’s visit is recommended.