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Alternative namesPseudofolliculitis barbae; Tinea barbae; Barber's itch
DefinitionFolliculitis is inflammation of one or more hair follicles. The condition may occur anywhere on the skin.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Folliculitis starts when hair follicles are damaged by friction from clothing, blockage of the follicle, or shaving. In most cases of folliculitis, the damaged follicles are then infected with the bacteria Staphylococcus (staph).
Barber's itch is a staph infection of the hair follicles in the bearded area of the face, usually the upper lip. Shaving aggravates the condition. Tinea barbae is similar to barber's itch, but the infection is caused by a fungus.
Signs and testsA diagnosis is primarily based on the appearance of the skin. The skin infection is shallow and superficial. A culture of the lesion may show which bacteria or fungus are causing it.
To prevent further damage to the hair follicles and infection:
Avoid reinfection from contaminated clothing and washcloths. Hot moist compresses may promote drainage of extensive folliculitis. Topical antibiotics (Bactroban), oral antibiotics (e.g., dicloxacillin), or antifungal medications may be needed to control the infection.
Expectations (prognosis)Folliculitis usually responds well to treatment, but may recur.
Calling your health care providerApply home treatment and call your health care provider if symptoms recur frequently, if they persist longer than 2 or 3 days, or if the infection spreads.
PreventionAvoid damage to the hair follicles to prevent infection. (See Treatment.)
Update Date: 4/17/2003Michael Lehrer, M.D., Department of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT