This article was reviewed by Dr. Emilija Ashtalkoska on August 11th, 2018. Products listed therein are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition.
Follicles are the group of cells and tissue surrounding the hair root and are responsible for hair. Folliculitis is a medical term that refers to inflammation of the hair follicle, root tissues, and cells.
It is one of the most common bacterial infections in the world. But how long does folliculitis last? It could be a few days to several years.
So what determines the duration?
In this article, we will discuss more about Folliculitis, the stages, symptoms, and treatment and give you tips to speed up your recovery time. Let’s get started.
Table of Contents
- Folliculitis Can Last Anywhere From A Few Days To A Few Years
- What Causes Folliculitis?
- How Serious Is Folliculitis?
- The Symptoms Of Folliculitis
- Folliculitis Treatments Over The Counter
- Home Treatments
- How To Prevent Spreading
- Tips To Prevent Folliculitis Reinfection
- Why Does Folliculitis Last Longer For Certain People?
- In Conclusion
Folliculitis Can Last Anywhere From A Few Days To A Few Years
In most cases, folliculitis will last up to 10 days or so without any treatment. However, it is important to keep in mind that this can differ drastically from person to person.
For some people, folliculitis may last several months or even longer if the infection becomes chronic. In certain instances, this can even lead to damaged follicles, which can result in permanent hair loss.
Talk to your doctor if you have folliculitis.
What Causes Folliculitis?
Generally, folliculitis develops due to the hair follicle being irritated and coming into contact with bacteria.
For example, irritation can be caused by the clothes you wear, creams you apply, and the shaving tools you use. Regions where hair grows in mass can be susceptible to folliculitis.
These include your head, neck, chest, underarms, face, and more. However, you can also experience folliculitis on your backside, legs, arms, and armpits; especially for women who shave.
The cause of folliculitis is bacterial contamination — Staphylococcus Aureus (staph) bacteria. If your hair follicle is damaged, these bacteria, which live on human skin, get access inside.
For this reason, the most common medical treatment option is an antibacterial solution.
Your doctor can prescribe an antibiotic in severe cases or an antibacterial body wash.
Other causes can be viruses, fungi, or ingrown hairs getting inflamed and leading to folliculitis. Similarly, heat-generating activities such as cycling and sitting in a hot tub may also predispose you to the infection.
This is because hot and damp skin can result in damaged follicles at the slightest touch (friction).
How Serious Is Folliculitis?
Usually, people experience a mild type of folliculitis. Some will barely notice the symptoms except for a little skin discoloration (red spots) and a few bumps.
This is normally called superficial folliculitis, and it goes away within a short period after initiating treatment and for the mildest cases, you may not even require treatment.
This is the type of folliculitis that usually goes away after a week or so.
In extreme infection (dissecting folliculitis), the condition can cause serious skin damage. You could suffer:
• Hair loss
• Complete baldness
• Rough skin patches
• Extreme scaring
• Dark spots
• And Boils or carbuncles (a cluster of pus-filled boils)
This is an extreme and oftentimes chronic form of folliculitis that may require medical attention. Talk to your doctor if you are suffering from any of these symptoms.
The Symptoms Of Folliculitis
Folliculitis is often confused with acne and other common issues, so it is crucial to be able to tell the difference. Talk to your doctor to get an exact diagnosis.
If you notice the following then there is a good chance that you have developed folliculitis:
• A large swollen mass (bump)
• Sometimes white-headed pimples
• Red rings surrounding the pimples (this is an indication that you have the bacterial infection)
• Itchy skin
• Some pain or burning sensation in the affected areas
• Hair loss
• Pus oozing from the bumps (usually in advanced stages)
• Crusty sores
Folliculitis Treatments Over The Counter
Now that you understand how folliculitis occurs and how long folliculitis can last, we can take a look at some common treatment options – both home remedies and more conventional treatments.
Before purchasing any of these medications, rule out any allergic reactions that you might have.
Similarly, if you suffer from chronic illnesses, please keep off self-diagnosis and always consult a qualified practitioner. Keep in mind this website does not provide medical advice.
There are a number of fantastic antibiotic gels, creams, or lotions that are available over the counter. Products such as Neosporin, Neomycin creams, and those containing Bacitracin Zinc work quickly to help cure folliculitis.
These work great for mild to moderate cases of folliculitis.
If a fungus caused your infection, antibiotics may not successfully treat it. Utilize antifungal creams, shampoos, and lotions instead.
They are both phenomenal and worth having in your medicine cabinet.
Over The Counter Pain Relievers
Folliculitis can be a very uncomfortable condition. The bumps can be very painful (especially when they become boils) and the skin around them gets irritable.
Over-the-counter, pain relief medication such as Tylenol can help ease the pain. This website does not provide medical advice.
Talk to your doctor before using any medications.
These are usually reserved for chronic cases of folliculitis and cases that are extreme.
Oral antibiotics may be prescribed by your doctor to help you get relief from the harshest cases of folliculitis and the ensuing negative side effects such as boils, blisters, and pain due to inflammation.
In addition to traditional medical treatments, there are a number of easy, at-home remedies that you can utilize to help get rid of your folliculitis.
These tend to work best for mild cases of folliculitis.
Soak a towel in warm water and compress it on the bumps. The heat from the towel enhances blood circulation and offers instant relief especially with itchiness.
The compressing action massages the swollen tissues reducing their size.
All these benefits can help speed up the healing process. This can even be used in conjunction with topical creams and other solutions. Use warm compresses twice daily for quicker results.
Add Essential Oils To The Warm Compress Water
Essential oils such as Tea tree oil, Aloe Vera, and Neem have antibacterial properties. Adding them to your warm compress routine will hasten your recovery.
However, avoid mixing two or more oils in one bath. Use them alternatingly.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a powerful anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agent that you probably have in your home already.
Place a few drops of apple cider vinegar in a cup of warm water, soak a hand towel in it, and place it on the infection site twice a day.
This can help get rid of your folliculitis and may also have some additional benefits such as helping with acne and other skin issues.
Antibacterial Soaps & Moisturizers
Using medicated soaps or natural options can help provide relief from folliculitis by killing the underlying bacteria. Make sure you wash it off your skin completely.
Apply soothing moisturizers such as coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, and oregano oil to keep the affected area moisturized throughout.
These take care of the irritation and dryness as well as flaky skin.
Hold Off On Shaving
One of the most common sources of folliculitis is from constantly irritating the skin due to shaving.
Unfortunately, when you shave you risk irritating the hair follicles and opening tiny cuts on the skin which allow bacteria to penetrate and develop into folliculitis.
Hold off on shaving for a few days at least to allow your skin to heal properly.
How To Prevent Spreading
Staph bacteria are somewhat contagious. By sharing washcloths, razors, hair creams, and towels, you could expose yourself to folliculitis.
Similarly, you could also spread the infection to your loved ones if your condition is not successfully treated.
Always maintain hygiene.
Before handling the bumps or boils, wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap. Remember the bacteria are still on your skin. And they can penetrate the hair follicle upon contact with broken skin including these bumps.
After dressing the boils or wounds, dispose of the dressing hygienically to avoid infecting others.
Finally, avoid sharing or re-using towels and washcloths that you used during the warm compress process.
Tips To Prevent Folliculitis Reinfection
The best prevention measure once you acquire folliculitis is to stop doing whatever caused the infection. If you were infected in a hot water tub, change to a more hygienic tub.
If you were infected while shaving, use alternative shaving tools. As soon as you notice the infection, start treatment immediately.
Why Does Folliculitis Last Longer For Certain People?
At the end of the day, there are a number of reasons why folliculitis can last for an extended period of time for some people, while for others it disappears within a few days.
Lifestyle, age, and predisposition all effects how long folliculitis will last.
Additionally, reinfection is also a huge issue – if you are constantly shaving with the same razor, or washing with the same washcloth, you may constantly reinfect yourself, thus allowing your folliculitis to last indefinitely.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article on folliculitis. We hope this answered your questions about how long folliculitis lasts, how it spreads, and what you can do to help prevent reinfection in the future.
If your folliculitis does not seem to go away or it keeps recurring, it’s time to visit a dermatologist for further diagnosis and treatment.
I am the founder of DestroyNailFungus, and I do my best to provide comprehensive guides on health and wellness.
When I’m not running the site, I enjoy spending time outdoors and drinking coffee.