We all know that sore red spots, pus-filled pustules and under-the-skin bumps are all classic signs of acne. But what if there was another cause – one that would need to be treated in an entirely different way? According to experts, a lesser known but equally as common skin condition known as folliculitis could be the reason behind certain acne-like spots. Here is everything you need to know in order to identify the condition, treat it and prevent it from coming back…
So, what is folliculitis?
Folliculitis is common skin condition where the hair follicles become blocked, causing pus-filled spots to appear. “Folliculitis is a skin rash caused by inflamed hair follicles. The rash consists of multiple red bumps, often with a tiny pus-filled ‘blister’ (called ‘pustule’) on top,” says Dr Stefanie Williams, dermatologist and Medical Director at Eudelo. “Any hair bearing skin area can be affected, including back, buttocks, chest, arms and legs. The most common skin area to be affected in both men and women are the buttocks.”
But why does it happen?
Well, according to Dr Anne Wetter, co-founder of Allel DNA Skincare, “It’s usually caused by a bacteria called staphylococcus aeries, which is part of the microbiome on the skin and not causing any problems, but if it gets into your skin, for example through a razor cut, folliculitis might develop,”
Other causes can include follicle blockage (caused by greasy, paraffin-based ointments or adhesive plasters) or irritation (like an ingrown hair – which is often a result of an excess of dead skin blocking the hair from growing outwards)
What’s the best treatment?
Luckily, it’s relatively easy to treat at home, especially if it’s a mild case. “You can use topical antiseptics and topical acne treatments,” says Dr Williams. These include skincare solutions that contain exfoliating agents like Salicylic acid, which help to remove dead cells on the skin surface, as well as ingredients with natural antibacterial properties like Tea Tree oil and Witch Hazel.
If the problem persists or spreads, pop to the doctor, who may prescribe something stronger. “Neomycin or mupirocin ointments, which are both topical antibiotics, can be very effective in persistant cases,” says Dr Wetter.
What can you do to avoid it?
“Thorough hygiene, for example with antiseptic cleansers such as Hibiscrub skin cleanser, antiseptic emollients such as Dermol lotion and antiseptic skin sprays such as Clinisept spray, are good measures that can lower the risk,” says Dr Williams.
Dr Wetter agrees, and notes you should also avoid tight clothes to “help to reduce the friction between your skin and the material” and also steer clear of hot tubs and baths. “There’s a bacteria called pseudomonas that develops in heated pools that are not well regulated and can causes folliculitis.”
Other than that, change the razor that you shave with regularly and avoid rich oils if you are prone.
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