Folliculitis: Meaning, Diagnosis and Overview

What is Folliculitis?

Folliculitis is inflammation of one or more hair follicles. It can occur anywhere on the skin. It is a common problem that is not usually serious. Tiny pus-filled spots (pustules) develop at the base of a hair, often in crops.The scalp, face, legs (thighs and inguinal area), and trunk (back, chest, axilla) are most often affected.

Recovery Time

Most cases of folliculitis are mild and do not need any treatment. It often clears without any treatment within 7-10 days. Severe cases can be resolved with a proper treatment in few months.


Diagnosis is done by the physical examination of the skin. In severe cases a microbial culture of the pus and a skin biopsy may be done.

FAQs prepared by doctor

Q1. Is folliculitis contagious?
Yes, potentially you can spread the infection to other areas of your body or to other people. General good hygiene practice can help reduce your risk of spreading infection. The germs that cause folliculitis do not usually cause problems for people you may come into close contact with, such as partners or household members. However, the germs can spread to other areas of your body or to other people through close contact (skin to skin).
You can reduce your risk of spreading infection by following some general good hygiene rules. For example, if you touch a pustule, wash your hands thoroughly using hot water and soap.

Q2. I have folliculitis that keeps reoccurring. Can I continue swimming during a flare-up?
Folliculitis usually clears within two to 10 days, so it is worth waiting until it’s cleared before you return to swimming. If you have open sores, the chlorine in the water may cause irritation. There is a risk you could spread the infection to others.Pseudomonas aeruginosa thrives in pools, whirlpools or spas that do not have enough chlorine. This bacteria causes folliculitis. Sores (papules and pustules) appear eight to 48 hours after exposure to contaminated water and are usually concentrated in areas covered by swimwear. If you are getting folliculitis repeatedly and your sores appear mainly in areas covered by your swimwear then it’s possible you may be picking up the infection from your pool.

Q3. Does folliculitis causes hair loss?
Folliculitis causes scarring alopecia, there are associated fibrosis, inflammation, and loss of hair follicles. A smooth scalp with a decreased number of follicular openings as in this disease hair follicles are not preserved.

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