Folliculitis is an infection of the hair follicles. It can occur anywhere on the skin or scalp. According to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, most cases are mild and clear up within a few days without treatment. Severe infections, however, usually require medical treatment and may even cause scarring and permanent hair loss. Treatment to cure folliculitis depends on its severity, but there are several at-home treatments you can use. The Mayo Clinic gives the following suggestions to help speed healing, relieve discomfort and prevent the infection from spreading.
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Apply warm, moist cloths or compresses to the infected area several times daily. This helps to soothe dryness and prevent sores from crusting over.
Use over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream or an oatmeal lotion on the affected area to soothe itchy skin.
Wash the infected area twice daily with antibacterial soap, or apply an over-the-counter topical antibiotic.
Prepare a mixture of salt water---add 1 tsp salt to 1 quart boiling water and let cool until warm. Soak a soft cloth in the mixture and apply to boils and carbuncles for 30 minutes several times daily. This will help the sores burst and drain more quickly.
Consult a doctor if at-home treatments do not cure folliculitis within a few days or if you have recurring cases. Your doctor will assess the severity and type of your infection and prescribe appropriate medications. Typical prescription treatments include oral and topical antibiotics, oral and topical antifungal medications, oral and topical corticosteroids and anti-itch medications. In some instances, your doctor may prescribe acne medications such as tretinoin (Retin-A) and isotretinoin (Accutane). Your doctor may treat large boils and carbuncles that form by making a small incision to allow drainage.
Tips and warnings
- Launder towels and washcloths in hot, soapy water after each use. Do not share towels and washcloths with others. Also wash any clothing that covers the infected areas after each wearing.
- Do not shave irritated skin with a razor blade. Try to avoid shaving altogether, but if you must shave, use an electric razor and apply soothing after-shave lotion when finished.
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