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Scalp Folliculitis

Scalp Folliculitis

What is it?

Scalp folliculitis is a skin condition affecting the scalp and causes hair follicles to become irritated and inflamed. So that you are entirely aware of what purpose the hair follicle serves, it holds each strand of hair to the scalp. At the base of the hair follicle is where the hair begins to grow. And this growth cycle stretches over five years. Folliculitis can happen wherever hair grows but essentially regularly occur on the scalp, is harmless, and can affect people at any age.

Types of scalp folliculitis

There are several types of scalp folliculitis ranging from superficial to profound.

Superficial folliculitis is categorized as an affecting part of a hair follicle and usually includes yeast and bacterial infection breakouts. Listed below are three different kinds.

  • Staphylococcus aureus- This is a bacterium that is displayed in pustule form. It shows up on the skin and usually does not present a problem until it has entered the body through broken skin.
  • Hot tub- This form of folliculitis occurs when you come in contact with bacteria-contaminated water.
  • Razor bumps- People with coarse or curly hair are usually the ones affected. Razor bumps happen when cutting the hair close to the skin, which is trapped underneath the skin. If your skin gets a tiny cut, then bacteria enter the skin, causing inflammation.

Deep folliculitis is categorized as affecting the entire hair follicle, presenting some severe symptoms.

  • Barber’s itch (pseudofolliculitis barbae) is a staph infection that affects the hair follicle and usually happens to people with very curly or coarse hair cutting very close to the skin.
  • Eosinophilic folliculitis will generally affect the scalp and neck area and look like a rash with bumps.
  • Gram-negative folliculitis looks like acne and is said to come from long-term antibacterial acne treatment.
  • Boils (furuncles)- Are very painful, a bump underneath the skin filled with pus, and are caused by an infected hair follicle.

What causes folliculitis?

Some staph or bacterial infection mainly causes folliculitis. Still, it is linked to obesity, a compromised immune system like cancer or HIV, and using some form of medication for prolonged periods. We will briefly discuss three common forms of folliculitis below.

The most common form of bacterial folliculitis is “barber’s itch.” Its technical name is pseudofolliculitis barbae, which affects both men and women. Some men or women will get a neck shave or close fade hair cut; the hairs are cut so tight and short that the new hair growing in will get trapped under the skin, or the hair will curve back into the skin, causing ingrown hairs. As a result, the skin becomes inflamed and irritated with red pus-filled bumps.

Braiding the hair too tightly can cause traction folliculitis, and this is where the tissue surrounding the hair follicle becomes injured and irritated from the pulling of the hair shaft. As a result, you will begin to notice red, patchy bumps on the scalp, potentially turning into a bald spot. 

Pseudomonas folliculitis, better known as hot tub folliculitis, comes from entering a hot tub filled with bacteria-contaminated water. If a hot tub, heated pool, spa bath, or swimming pool hasn’t been properly sanitized and the chlorine and pH levels aren’t regulated, bacteria form. At first sight, the skin will develop red patches and begin to itch very badly.

Sometimes these bumps will become tender and have pus in them—areas where the swimsuit cover can be more severe. There are topical treatments available. However, I recommend you seek a medical professional for treatment.

Scalp folliculitis and hair loss

Scalp folliculitis is considered to be temporary but, there are more severe cases that are known to cause permanent damage. In addition, there is one specific form of folliculitis that causes permanent hair loss. And that is traction folliculitis which is an element of traction alopecia syndrome. Traction alopecia syndrome is not discussed much but is happening to many women of color, especially African American women.

If the hair is consistently put under stress and trauma, the hair follicle will eventually die, and the hair will not grow back. This can also happen with people who get their hair weaved regularly. If you see this kind of traction happening, remove the braids or hair weave and seek medical attention. If not too late, doing this will hopefully save the follicle and reverse the damage done.

Is scalp folliculitis contagious?

There are several types of folliculitis, but most classes are not contagious. Hot tub folliculitis can be transported through contaminated water, and people with compromised immune systems are more inclined to get folliculitis. Sharing razors or receiving a service by your barber or stylist who hasn’t allotted enough time to sanitize their clippers or tools can increase the spread of folliculitis from client to client. Another way folliculitis can be given from one body part to another. Picking or scratching the bumps and then touching different body parts or even utilizing a contaminated razor can transfer folliculitis.

Why does folliculitis keep coming back?

Although anyone can get folliculitis, some people are more susceptible to getting folliculitis than others. If you have an overactive sweat gland system, this is one possible reason why folliculitis keeps showing up. As discussed earlier in this article, folliculitis happens due to an infected hair follicle sometimes from shaving. If you consistently have ingrown hairs, a virus, or a fungus, folliculitis will occur.

When should I see a doctor?

You should seek medical attention if you develop a fever of or above one hundred and one degrees Fahrenheit if the rash/bumps look as if it has spread or gotten more prominent, or if you are in pain from the bumps and they are red and swollen. These symptoms usually show up when folliculitis is severe. Having a mild case of folliculitis should disappear within a couple of weeks. If not, see a medical professional. Make it a point to keep all of your doctor’s appointments and reach out to he/her if it gets worse or develops any other issues.

Is it preventable?

After exercising or using a public hot tub, spa, or swimming pool, quickly take a bath or shower with mild soap. If your skin is inclined to get clogged, do not use oil after washing because this will cause bacteria, if any is present, to get caught under the skin, producing folliculitis. Likewise, avoid sharing intimate objects like a rag, washcloth, or razor, as this will also cause the spread of folliculitis. If you’ve been diagnosed with folliculitis, use a clean washcloth and towel time you shower.

Finally, if you see, bumps try your hardest not to pick them or scratch them; doing so will only make things worse. If you shave, only shave when it is necessary. For ethnic people who practice the art of protective hairstyles, avoid getting protective styles that cause tight pulling of the hair shaft as this will cause tiny bumps, which will turn into folliculitis. Practicing these simple steps can prevent folliculitis or decrease the spreading.

A natural approach in treating mild folliculitis

Aloe vera is one of the best ways to help treat folliculitis because it has enzymes that help treat swelling, itching, and redness. You can use pure aloe vera gel from the aloe plant, or you may use pure aloe vera juice. I love Bhringraj oil because of its antimicrobial and antifungal properties. Most people use it to treat dandruff, and it is lovely to use in helping treat folliculitis. You may add either one of these natural elements to your shampoo or use it as a scalp treatment by massaging it into the scalp.

Apple cider vinegar with the mother because of its ability to reduce redness and rashes is another realistic option for treating folliculitis. You apply it from the bottle onto the scalp. I recommend using apple cider vinegar when you are not planning on going out as the smell is very loud. While there are ayurvedic remedies to assist in relieving the discomfort of milder cases of folliculitis, I would recommend you seek professional medical advice when possible, especially if it is severe.

In conclusion

Scalp folliculitis can be irritating and, in some instances, very painful. However, with a milder case, you can sometimes recover without any treatments; that is why you must get diagnosed early. While taking a holistic approach is excellent for a weak point of folliculitis, it is always best to seek professional medical attention if you feel you have a more severe issue for a speedy recovery.


I had success in owning my own business and I am at a point in my life where I enjoy blogging as well as teaching professionals how to hone in on their niche to make them stand out from their competition and find their distinguishable asset. My hope is to help professionals who are new to the industry, as well as the more seasoned professional, learn what it takes to increase their earning potential.

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