What are the signs and symptoms of folliculitis?

What are the signs and symptoms of folliculitis?

General signs and symptoms of folliculitis include:

  • Clusters of tiny red (inflamed) bumps around a hair - almost rash-like (sometimes with white / yellow-headed ‘pimples’ / pustules)
  • Itching / burning skin that is red and inflamed (this is known as pruritis)
  • Tender / painful skin
  • Blisters (usually pus-filled) which rupture (break open and drain pus, blood or both) and crust over (leaving crusty sores)
  • Large, swollen bumps (red and inflamed)
  • Mild fever
  • An upset stomach

Most instances of folliculitis resolve within a matter of days. Symptoms associated with hot tub folliculitis typically present within 72 hours of exposure to contaminated water, and clear up within 7 to 10 days.

When to seek medical attention for folliculitis

Folliculitis which becomes widespread, worsens or does not appear to improve or resolve within 2 or 3 days of a breakout or if signs of infection such as pain, fever and swelling are present, a medical professional should be consulted. (3) A general practitioner (GP), dermatologist or internist may be consulted as any of these doctors will be able to diagnose and treat the condition.

What can go wrong (complications)

Folliculitis is normally a self-limiting skin condition and infrequently causes additional problems. When complications do occur, these may result in resistance to healing or the worsening of the condition.

Some complications include:

  • Widespread outbreaks (infection which has spread to other parts of the body or recurs)
  • The formation of large and painful boils (furunculosis) beneath the skin (or painful cysts / an abscess)
  • Extensive damage to hair follicles, resulting in permanent hair loss
  • Damage to the skin, resulting in dark spots (hyperpigmentation) or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation marks (which are lighter than the normal skin colour) or scarring (which can occur due to deep inflammation, aggressive friction such as rubbing or scrubbing, or picking at sores)
  • Skin infections, like cellulitis (a bacterial infection)



3. University of Maryland Medical Center. October 2016. Folliculitis: http://www.umm.edu/Health/Medical/Ency/Articles/Folliculitis [Accessed 09.11.2017]

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