Folliculitis – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment


Folliculitis is the name given to a group of skin conditions in which there are inflamed hair follicles. Hot tub folliculitis is an infection that develops after exposure to certain forms of bacteria that reside in warm, wet environments such as hot tubs. Folliculitis can affect both women and men at any age. It can develop on any part of the body, but is most likely to occur on the scalp, face, or parts of the arms, armpits, or legs not usually covered by clothing.

Superficial folliculitis often clears by itself in a few days, but deep or recurring folliculitis may need medical treatment.


Superficial staphylococcal folliculitis is quite common and is seen in people of all ages. Hot tub folliculitis is an infection of the hair follicles caused by the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa. It begins anytime from 6 hours to 5 days after the exposure. This bacteria is commonly found in contaminated whirlpools, hot tubs, water slides, physiotherapy pools, or even loofah sponges.


The signs and symptoms of folliculitis vary, depending on the type of infection. In superficial forms of the disorder, small pimples develop around one or more hair follicles. It turns into a small, raised area of skin that contains pus (pustule) and often itches or burns. When these pustules break open, they may drain pus and/or blood.

Hot tub folliculitis” typically appears about 72 hours after you have been in a hot tub or spa. Many small pustules appear on your torso and sometimes your arms and legs. You may have a mild fever and feel ill. This type of folliculitis usually goes away on its own within 7 to 10 days.


If you think you have folliculitis, the most important thing for you to do is to see your doctor in order to confirm the diagnosis, so that you can seek folliculitis treatment. Ideally, the organism causing the infection should be identified and its sensitivity to antibiotics should be established.

Oral treatments are the most effective. The two used are Nizoral and Sporonox. One will need to wait a week or two for clearing, and recurrences are to be expected. A last resort is Accutane pills. These are general guidelines and a dermatologist can help decide the best treatment.

If you have folliculitis, do not share a razor, towel, or washcloth with anyone because the condition is contagious. If the infected hair follicles are in an area that you shave, you may need to take a break from shaving until the condition has cleared up. Always make sure the blade in your razor is new and clean to avoid infecting the area again. You can help prevent scalp folliculitis by shampooing your hair regularly.

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