Follicle Infection

How To Deal With A Follicle Infection

Depending on its severity, a follicle infection may be treated in several different ways, or in mild cases, may not require treatment at all.

The general term for a follicle infection is folliculitis. Folliculitis is not to be confused with dermatitis, although the symptoms may, in some cases, appear similar. Dermatitis is a general infection or inflammation of the dermis, or skin, while folliculitis only involves hair follicles, though the infection may sometimes spread.

Folliculitis, even when confined to a single hair follicle can be painful, though, this is not always the case.

The most common causes of a follicle infection are:


Damage to the follicle due to injury or trauma

When the cause of the infection is bacteria, the culprit is usually the Staphylococcus bacteria, though on occasion, an infection may be caused by the Streptococcus species.

An antibiotic is the usual course of treatment, if treatment is needed. The medical history of the patient and sometimes other factors as well, determine the type of antibiotic that will be effective. Patients with immune system problems, diabetics, and small children often require specific types of antibiotics, pertinent to their situation.

Furuncles And Boils - Sometimes, the infection will penetrate deep into the follicle and beyond. At this stage, the infection is referred to medically as a furuncle, though in layman's terms, it is usually called a boil.

A boil can be very sore indeed, and can grow fairly large. Initially, the area where the boil appears will be slightly red or inflamed, and the boil itself will usually be filled with a clear liquid. As the body fights the infection, the center of the boil, which is centered in the hair follicle, will turn yellowish as it begins to fill with dead tissue and pus.

Once the infection has been dealt with, the boil needs to drain before it can effectively heal. It may break or drain on its own, or may need to be pierced in order for the pus and liquid to drain out. This should be done by a doctor, especially if the boil is large, to lessen the chance of the infection spreading - always a danger when the Staphylococcus bacteria is present.

A bandage needs to be placed over the ruptured boil, and clean bandages need to be kept on the area until the boil has drained completely and begun to heal.

Unless the infection is quite severe, a person suffering from folliculitis, including the presence of a furuncle or boil, will seldom run a temperature, and will seldom require anything more than a visit to the doctor, usually for the purpose of piercing the boil.

Carbuncles - Sometimes however, the infection may spread to several follicles and a larger boil, called a carbuncle may form.

Like the furuncle, a carbuncle may form when the Staphylococcus infection progresses more deeply into the follicle and beyond. Like a furuncle, a carbuncle can be extremely painful, and when one has one or more carbuncles, running a fever and experiencing a general feeling of malaise can often be accompanying symptoms.

The use of antibiotics and lancing of the carbuncles under the direct supervision of a doctor is usually required. The need for a stay in a hospital is rare, however.

Home Remedies - In addition to pain, itching is sometimes present. There are several home remedies which can be put to use to relieve itching and often relieve pain at the same time:

Witch hazel is a remedy which is said to be effective and is applied topically.

Garlic is noted for its antiseptic and anti inflammatory powers, and crushed garlic applied to the infected area can provide relief and hasten healing. One problem with garlic of course is the odor, which both the patient and those in the immediate vicinity may need to deal with.