Derm DMs: What Is Folliculitis?

November 30, 2022
Alanna Martine Kilkeary
By: Alanna Martine Kilkeary | by L'Oréal
collage of photos of people shaving underarms and legs

Taking care of the hair on your body is one way to help keep skin irritation and ingrown hairs at bay. It can also help prevent another skin condition called folliculitis, or the inflammation or infection of a hair follicle. Here, we chatted with NYC-based dermatologist and consultant, Dr. Marisa Garshick, on what folliculitis is and some tips to help manage.

What Is Folliculitis?

According to Dr. Garshick, folliculitis is the inflammation of a hair follicle caused by a bacterial, fungal or viral infection that can lead to redness or pustules centered around the follicle. “It can arise in the setting of friction, such as wearing tight leggings, or sweaty workouts,” she adds. Folliculitis differs from ingrown hairs, which refer to the inflammation that can develop as a result of the hair shaft curling back and penetrating the skin due to shaving or waxing incorrectly.

“Folliculitis can occur in all skin types and can affect all areas such as the scalp, face, beard, back chest, underarms and groin area,” says Dr. Garshick. 

person in a robe touching leg

Tips to Address Folliculitis

If you suspect you may have folliculitis, avoid using occlusive products and don’t wear tight-fitting clothing. “Be sure to change out of sweaty clothing after a workout, and since shaving can worsen folliculitis, use proper shaving techniques,” says Dr. Garshick.  Because folliculitis is often caused by bacteria, Dr. Garshick notes that using an antibacterial wash to address it. 

If symptoms persist or you struggle with recurring folliculitis, consult your doctor. “As always, see your board-certified dermatologist to help determine the etiology cause and best treatment plan,” Dr. Garshick adds.

Design: Juliana Campisi

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