The hair follicle, through which a hair emerges from the skin, can become infected and inflamed. This is known as folliculitis, of which there are many different types. Hair follicle treatment will vary, depending on whether the patient has a bacterial, fungal, or viral infection. The first step in treatment is an accurate diagnosis and a determination of the cause of the condition. Doctors can then develop a hair follicle treatment plan, which may consist of oral or topical antibiotics, antifungal drugs, or an antiviral.
Laboratory tests may be needed to determine the exact cause of folliculitis. One type of folliculitis is called tinea barbae, which is caused by a fungal infection. If the patient has this type, hair follicle treatment will consist of an antifungal medication. Some commonly prescribed antifungals for tinea barbae include itraconazole, terbinafine, and fluconazole. A patient may also take a corticosteroid drug to reduce the inflammation that tinea barbae can cause.
Another type of skin infection caused by a fungus is called pityrosporum folliculitis. Pityrosporum, a type of yeast, multiplies inside the hair follicles. Patients will notice an itchy skin condition that appears very similar to acne. Those with this condition must avoid antibiotics, because they can worsen it. Hair follicle treatment for pityrosporum folliculitis also requires an antifungal medication, which may be taken orally or applied topically to the skin.
Other kinds of folliculitis are caused by a virus, such as herpetic folliculitis, which may sometimes resolve on its own. Those with compromised immune systems may need an antiviral medication. These include acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir. Some patients may suffer from recurring herpetic folliculitis.
Hair follicle treatment can also address a deep skin infection, such as eosinophilic folliculitis. The exact cause of this is unknown, as of 2011; however, it may be associated with patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Topical corticosteroids are typically tried first. Some patients may be prescribed oral corticosteroids or oral antihistamines.
Patients with folliculitis caused by bacterial infections will often require antibiotics for successful hair follicle treatment. Staphylococcal folliculitis is typically treated with oral or topical antibiotics, such as erythromycin, ciprofloxacin, or clindamycin. Gram-negative folliculitis is also treatable with antibiotics. Those with boils or carbuncles, which cause lumps or nodules on the skin, may also be prescribed antibiotics after the doctor lances the growth to drain the pus.
In mild cases, home remedies can clear up a case of folliculitis. Patients with pseudofolliculitis barbae, for example, should shave with an electric razor to lessen irritation to the skin. A shaving gel and a moisturizing after-shave should also be used. Patients can also benefit from holding a hot, damp compress to the affected skin.