Folliculitis is a skin condition that occurs when your hair follicles get infected. Any of your hair follicles can be affected, including the ones on your scalp. Here are four things you need to know about scalp folliculitis.
What are the signs of scalp folliculitis?
If you have scalp folliculitis, you'll notice itchy or uncomfortable lumps on your scalp. At the center of these lumps, you may be able to see the hair shafts. These lumps look similar to ingrown hairs, although they aren't caused by trapped hairs.
Why does scalp folliculitis occur?
Scalp folliculitis can occur for a few different reasons. If you like to keep your head shaved, the friction from your razor can irritate your follicles and lead to inflammation. It can also occur when bacteria like staphylococci get inside your follicles, so make sure to sanitize your razor regularly; dipping your razor in rubbing alcohol is an easy way to do this.
Shaving your head isn't the only way to get scalp folliculitis. Tight headwear like hats or workout headbands can also cause friction, and this friction can irritate your follicles. Heat and sweat can also lead to this condition, so make sure to wash your hair after you've worked out or have been outdoors in the heat.
Demodex, parasitic mites that reside in hair follicles, have also been implicated as a possible cause. Nearly all adults have these mites, but when the mites are present in unusually high numbers (more than five mites per square centimeter), they may lead to scalp folliculitis.
What complications can scalp folliculitis cause?
Scalp folliculitis doesn't usually lead to serious medical problems. However, if it's not treated, the infection can spread from your hair follicles to your skin, leading to an infection known as cellulitis. Cellulitis is serious as it can spread to other areas of your skin. Furunculosis, also known as boils, can also form if pus accumulates at the base of the hair shafts.
This condition can also lead to scarring or permanent hair loss in the affected areas. If this happens, you may need to start wearing your hair longer to cover up the scars or bald patches.
Can scalp folliculitis be treated?
Scalp folliculitis may go away by itself once the aggravating factor, like close shaving, is removed. Your dermatologist may also prescribe a topical medication to help your skin heal more quickly. If the condition doesn't resolve itself, oral antibiotics are the next step.
If you think you have scalp folliculitis, go to a walk-in clinic for an examination. If you are interested, click here for additional info on walk-in clinics.