Folliculitis treatment depends heavily on the cause of the skin condition. As with many types of acne, corticosteroids may be prescribed if inflammation is severe in folliculitis.
Creams and oral steroids can help decrease inflammation and reduce redness, but these drugs have serious adverse effects and are usually only used short-term. Photodynamic therapy using light-sensitising creams can also help with folliculitis. This kind of folliculitis treatment is usually reserved for people whose condition has not responded to other interventions.
Acne caused by a yeast infection may be treated with antifungal medications including creams, pills, and shampoos where the scalp is affected. Antibiotics do not work for clearing yeast infections, but these medications (including the antibiotic cream mupirocin) may be prescribed for eosonophilic folliculitis or other type of folliculitis caused by bacteria.
Oral antibiotics are not commonly prescribed for folliculitis treatment, unless the infection is recurrent or severe. Antiretroviral therapy, used for the management of HIV/AIDS, can also help improve eosinophilic folliculitis symptoms.
Surgery for Folliculitis
Surgery may also be an option for folliculitis treatment, at least in cases where a large pustule has developed and minor surgery can help to drain the pus, relieve pain and minimise scarring. Laser therapy may also be offered to help clear an infection, with this type of treatment permanently reducing the number of follicles in an area of skin. Laser therapy is expensive and several treatment sessions are usually required, with possible side effects including scarring, blistering and skin discoloration.
Home Remedies for Folliculitis Treatment
Before choosing these medical interventions, it is recommended to see how folliculitis responds to self-care at home. Many cases can be significantly relieved through some simple home treatments.
- Apply a warm, moist washcloth or compress to the affected area several times a day to help relieve discomfort and encourage circulation and drainage of the area of skin. (Soak the washcloth with a saltwater solution to help draw out the infection.)
- Make a soothing oatmeal compress using muslin (cheesecloth), oats and lavender to help relieve itchiness and inflammation.
- If the folliculitis is caused by a yeast infection, add a little anti-fungal coconut oil, caprylic acid, or tea tree oil to skin cream.
- Supplement with an oral probiotic for yeast infection to help fight infection from the inside.
- If natural remedies are ineffective, use an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream to relieve itchy skin.
- Use antibacterial soap, or add tea tree oil to regular soap, and wash skin twice daily.
Shaving and Folliculitis
If possible, it is best to avoid shaving any area showing signs of folliculitis. If shaving is necessary, an electric razor is preferable for reducing skin irritation. Skin should be rinsed with warm water and patted dry after shaving, and a light moisturiser used to help calm the skin. To soften hair and reduce the risk of folliculitis caused by ingrowing hair, apply a lubricating shaving gel 5-10 minutes before shaving.
Shaving against the grain can also help reduce barber’s itch and acne after shaving. Or, for some people the best option is to let hair grow, although acne under beard hair is also a problem in some cases.
It is important to use a new washcloth and towel for every new wash and to avoid sharing these items. Any clothing that has been in contact with the affected area should be washed. Over-the-counter antibiotic creams and gels are also available.
To reduce the risk of folliculitis reoccurring, avoid wearing tight clothes that trap heat and sweat and cause friction. Drying out rubber gloves and boots between uses is also recommended, and it can help to rinse rubber gloves out with hot soapy water before drying. Avoid the use of hot tubs and heated pools that are not regularly cleaned and chlorinated or otherwise treated to kill infectious microbes.