It can often feel that keeping a full head of healthy hair is more difficult than it needs to be, especially for men. Between genetically induced male pattern baldness and immune system malfunctions or medical issues resulting in various forms of alopecia, there seem to be many factors that work against the average man. 

Today we’re looking at the common, but thankfully, preventable matter of folliculitis in men. We want to understand the causes and best treatments in order to avoid the potential for scarring and hair loss.

Folliculitis results from inflamed hair follicles, which appear as small, swollen bumps in the affected area looking much like a pimple, although mild or early stages of folliculitis can appear as tender, swollen or itchy areas. These small infected areas can spread and turn into crusty and unsightly sores if left untreated. While folliculitis can affect any area of the body with hair, it is most likely to cause distress when it appears on the head and face where it can result in permanent scarring and hair loss. 

The good news is that it can be treated effectively, especially when it’s caught early, and while it can feel embarrassing and uncomfortable, it’s not life-threatening.

What Causes Folliculitis in Men?

Folliculitis is most commonly caused by Staphylococcus aureus, a bacteria that is normally found on the skin but only becomes problematic when they enter the body, and can cause a range of illnesses. This bacterial folliculitis displays as raised and itchy bumps on the skin, often painful and pus-filled, and they can turn into boils or carbuncles if the infection progresses deeper. 

Other forms of folliculitis include:

  • Pseudomonas folliculitis, also known as hot tub folliculitis, results in round, itchy bumps on the skin after using unsanitary hot tubs, swimming pools, or even ponds and lakes.
  • Pseudofolliculitis barbae is also referred to as razor or shaving bumps. This can occur in sensitive areas after shaving or waxing and appears as inflamed bumps. Men with curly hair are particularly susceptible to razor bumps on the face and neck after shaving as they are prone to ingrowing hairs and the uncomfortable infections that can follow.
  • Pityrosporum folliculitis is also referred to as fungal acne, and is characterised by inflamed, itchy pustules. These commonly appear on the neck, shoulders and back, but can also affect the face and upper arms. It is caused by a proliferation of yeast that forms part of our natural skin flora, but causes issues when it infects the follicles and produces an acne-like appearance.
  • Sycosis barbae is an uncomfortable and painful condition caused by shaving, which most commonly affects men. The hair follicles become infected, leading to large, inflamed pustules on the skin, often resulting in scarring. 

Anyone can develop folliculitis, but some are more likely to suffer than others. For example, people who:

  • Are dealing with a medical issue that affects their immune system;
  • Are predisposed toward acne;
  • Cause damage to hair follicles through overly tight-fitting clothing or clothing that does not allow for adequate ventilation;
  • Shave frequently, especially men with curly hair who are more likely to suffer from ingrowing hairs;
  • Have been exposed to bacteria in poorly maintained swimming pools or hot tubs;
  • Share a razor with others.

While folliculitis is seldom caused by poor personal care, it’s good to know that it can be rectified by good hygiene and, if necessary, medicated hair care products from a trichologist.

What Treatments are Available?

As with most ailments, prevention is certainly better than cure – and of course, catching an infection early is key! 

Therefore, if you are experiencing itching, burning, or swollen areas of skin and you suspect folliculitis, it’s a good idea to book a visit with a qualified trichologist who will be able to quickly ascertain the exact cause and suggest treatment immediately to prevent any further damage to the hair follicle. 

Common treatments include:

  • Oral or topical antibiotics
  • Antifungal creams or shampoos
  • Medicated hair care products
  • Anti-bacterial soaps
  • A program of careful skin and scalp care 

It’s likely that your treatment program will include lifestyle suggestions such as wearing loose, comfortable clothing, washing the face or other affected areas regularly to maintain disinfection and keeping bed sheets, pillowcases, hats and hoods, combs, brushes and clippers clean. 

It is vital to not squeeze or pick at pustules as this can spread the infection to neighbouring follicles and injure the skin resulting in scarring.

What Next?

While some instances of folliculitis can resolve on their own with minor discomfort, others can cause permanent damage to the skin resulting in scarring and hair loss. Deep infections can result in painful abscesses and other serious conditions. We may not be able to avoid all fungal and bacterial infections in today’s polluted world, but we can be aware of how they impact our bodies and what we can do about them. 

Folliculitis in men may be common, but it doesn’t have to be a problem for you. If you’re concerned that you may be experiencing early symptoms or even have a recurring skin issue that you’re worried about, we invite you to book a consultation. Our professional, highly skilled trichologists are keenly interested in your unique needs, and you can trust them to find the best solution.

M Hamilton
M Hamilton
2023-11-10
Great clinic very knowledgeable staff, after one treatment I have seen a great difference in the condition of my scalp. All products are made on site and although expensive you know you are paying for quality
Emma Halsey
Emma Halsey
2023-10-31
Recently my scalp became very itchy and flaky. I noticed my hair was falling out too. I went to the GP several times but my scalp condition did not change. I decided to visit Fulham Salp and hair clinic. The team at the clinic are lovely. They explained what was happening to my scalp and hair and gave me many ideas how to look after the condition including ideas on diet. I did buy some of their products, which are amazing BUT it was NOT a hard sale, I could have easily left without purchasing their products. I am pleased to say that just a few weeks on my scalp is no longer scabby, itchy or flaky. My hair is not falling out either. Thank you fulham scalp and hair clinic I 100% recommend going to this clinic if you have any problems with your hair and/or scalp
Sukhbir Singh
Sukhbir Singh
2023-10-22
This clinic has been a wonderful find. I have scalp psoriasis and have found following Eleanore's instructions and treatment plan has helped me so much. Thoroughly recommend them.
Nazmul Hussain
Nazmul Hussain
2023-06-05
I came here because I was doing research online and found that the clinic focuses on hair, in my case being premature greying and was the most affordable. When I arrived, I didn't know what to honestly expect. I was welcomed in by Eleanor who my consultation was with too, she made me feel calm and collected and thoroughly answered all my questions I had for her. Going through my lifestyle, health and diet. She also done an analysis on my hair with genuinely better answers than I was expecting (excluding minor seb-derm) and took some photos of my hair for a follow-up for later in the year. All in all, even though my main issue wasn't solved being premature greying which is genetic, I would give the service provided by Eleanor a perfect score.
Janeth Sallaby
Janeth Sallaby
2023-05-23
Great service, knowledgeable and supportive.
leena soliman
leena soliman
2023-05-17
Came here when I had some issues and they were able to help massively! They are not like other claimed trichologist that want to scare you and take your money, they are backed up with their qualification and experience. Reasonably priced consultation, treatment and products!
Nicolette Cummings
Nicolette Cummings
2023-03-24
professional, helpful and with excellent customer service
zoe Inn
zoe Inn
2023-02-15
From my first consultation, I knew this was the right place for my hair.Teresa and Eleanore are very caring. The treatments are also very relaxing and my hair adores their products!
Cecilia Morgan
Cecilia Morgan
2022-12-14
Fantastic clinic, such a lovely family run business. Their treatments and products are great! If you're considering going, just book it.
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