Folliculitis is caused by a hair follicle becoming clogged. Sometimes, this results in nothing more than an ingrown hair. In other cases, it can result in an infection that produces an unsightly rash that is itchy and uncomfortable. There are different treatment options available based upon the type of folliculitis a person has.
If your folliculitis is caused by a bacterial infection, you may be able to use antibiotics to clear it up. Because different bacteria require different antibiotics, visit your doctor, who will prescribe the best medication, in either oral or topical form, for your type of infection.
Some forms of folliculitis, such as tinea barbae or pityrosporum folliculitis, are caused by a fungal infection. In these cases, your doctor can prescribe an antifungal pill or an antifungal cream or ointment. Some people are prone to repeated infections and may need to use the antifungal treatments indefinitely to keep folliculitis at bay.
Your doctor may recommend that you apply hot, moist compresses to the areas of folliculitis in order to soften the material plugging the hair follicle and allow the hair to break through. If you are prone to repeated episodes of folliculitis, your doctor may recommend preventive measures. These can include shaving tips, such as using an electric razor or shaving in the direction of hair growth rather than against it. Your doctor may also suggest you refrain from wearing tight clothing, which can cause friction and encourage folliculitis.
If your folliculitis is severe or an infected hair follicle has become a boil or carbuncle, there are procedures a dermatologist can perform to promote healing. Most likely, she will lance the boil or carbuncle to allow pus and blood to drain from the infected follicle. You will probably need to keep a sterile dressing on the affected area for a few days to allow blood and pus to fully drain.
Although you may be tempted to squeeze infected follicles or ingrown hairs to get the hairs and pus out on your own, this is not recommended. Squeezing or popping an infected hair follicle can introduce more bacteria to the area and worsen the infection.