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Alternative Names Return to topPseudofolliculitis barbae; Tinea barbae; Barber's itch
Definition Return to top
Folliculitis is inflammation of one or more hair follicles. It can occur anywhere on the skin.
Causes Return to top
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 beard area of the face, usually the upper lip. Shaving makes it worse. Tinea barbae is similar to barber's itch, but the infection is caused by a fungus.
Pseudofolliculitis barbae is a disorder that occurs mainly in black men. If curly beard hairs are cut too short, they may curve back into the skin and cause inflammation.
Symptoms Return to top
Common symptoms include a rash, itching, and pimples or pustules near a hair follicle in the neck, groin, or genital area. The pimples may crust over.
Exams and Tests Return to top
A diagnosis is primarily based on how the skin looks. Lab tests may show which bacteria or fungus is causing the infection.
Treatment Return to top
Hot, moist compresses may promote drainage of the affected follicles. Treatment may include antibiotics applied to the skin (mupirocin) or taken by mouth (dicloxacillin), or antifungal medications to control the infection.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Folliculitis usually responds well to treatment, but may come back.
Possible Complications Return to top
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Apply home treatment and call your health care provider if symptoms come back frequently, if they last longer than 2 or 3 days, or if the infection spreads.
Prevention Return to top
To prevent further damage to the hair follicles and infection:
References Return to top
Habif TP. Bacterial infections. In: Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2004: chap 9.
Swartz MN, Pasternack MS. Cellulitis and subcutaneous tissue infections. In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds. Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2005: chap 86.Update Date: 11/16/2008 Updated by: Linda Vorvick, MD, Family Physician, Seattle Site Coordinator, Lecturer, Pathophysiology, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.