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.

What is Folliculitis?

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.

leena solimanleena soliman
06:19 17 May 23
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!
zoe Innzoe Inn
17:24 15 Feb 23
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!
19:01 01 Dec 22
Thank you so much Fulham scalp and hair clinic for restoring the health of my scalp and my hair.Straight talking, no nonsense, friendly and professional advice and if you follow it you’ll see results.They really know their stuff and I highly recommend.
Nico PopNico Pop
18:42 13 Jan 22
Booked the initial appointment as I have damaged hair due to bleaching and I had an itchy scalp on a very small region at the back of the scalp. As a healthcare professional myself I did not expect the trichologist to have a magic wand and cure me in one session. 3 appointments ( almost 3 months) in and buying all products recommended (7 of them - the calming scalp cream is missing in the picture) , my scalp became extremely flaky and itchy to an extent that It kept me awake at night. When informed the trichologist my experience, the only recommendation was to trial the Cade oil shampoo... which caused me further discomfort and irritation.I had to stop using all their products as I couldn't stand the itchiness and inflammation anymore (although used the cade oil shampoo several times). Who would've thought that going to a trichologist you will end up with and super irritated and itchy scalp?!Very disappointed with the overall experience, I felt the focus was mainly on selling their products, booking for treatments and not necessarily helping me with my concerns, especially that the professional did not have any concers re my condition, 400£ later I ended up booking an app with the Dr in order to solve the issues caused by their products.
03:56 06 Jun 19
I really hated my experience at Fulham Scalp & Hair Clinic and I would not recommend it at all. The reason why I visited was because I had concerns about changes I saw in my hair, particularly the amount of hair I was losing at the sides (edges).I booked an appointment which comprised of a consultation + 1st treatment. I had the consultation with the owners daughter who asked me about my hair routine, health, products and also took a sample of my hair to look at underneath a microscope. During the consultation the main points she explained to me were that blow drying my hair was bad, the hair needed to be washed more often and hair grease and oils were very bad for my hair despite the fact I have been using them my whole life and I had a good amount of hair. After the consultation she then washed it with their own branded hair products, steamed it did some light therapy and then braided it. She then told me that I would have to come back at some point for a trim and that her mother (the owner) was the only one that could do it. At the end she gave me some basic instructions about using the hair products, and I also purchased some of their products.A few days using their products I experienced a very high level of dryness to my scalp even though I was using A LOT of products everyday my hair would be extremely dry after a couple of hours. When I called them about it the receptionist answered and said the clinic was really busy and that I should try and use coconut oil despite not even being a qualified trichologist, and the trichologist warning that oils were bad for the hair! At my next appointment for the trim I was treated by the owner, she made remarks about how dry my hair was (even though I was following the instructions and using ONLY their products), and how as a black person I should be proud of my hair and wear more natural hair styles, and throw away the blow dryer. She washed my hair and then trimmed it! Which I had never heard of in my life especially with afro hair because it can shrivel up to virtually nothing so when you cut even what seems like the tiniest bit it is actually a lot, but she insisted that it was the "correct" way. During the trim I found it really humiliating and embarrassing because in the styling room I was sat next to another lady who was also having her hair treated and I just really hated every moment of the owner trimming my hair and also lecturing me in it's damaged state like that. Over the course of 3 months following the instructions, steaming my hair everyday, and washing it once a week and using the products my hair just got worse and also breaking, knotty,shedding, weaker, thinner, and shorter than it was originally at my first consultation. I was really upset, especially as when I contacted them about my concerns they kept saying my hair was just "adapting".I eventually discontinued their advice and products,It didn't happen overnight but my hair eventually gradually got back to how it used to be, by doing the "bad" things such as blow drying, using greases and oils and washing it less often. I feel that Fulham Scalp & Hair clinic are not very knowledgeable in a wide variety of hair types particularly Afro hair. They preach and say blow drying, greases and oils, weaves,wigs and not washing your hair often are bad for the health of your hair yet there are thousands of videos on YouTube which contradict these "theories". I feel they cater more to people with looser hair types and not coarser hair types, the products they sell are also very expensive especially as they do not even contain a lot in them mostly comprise of menthol and water. They also seem to care more about their old customers and do not even ask for feedback from new customers, are really hypocritical of your hair choices even though they wear their hair pin straight. Don't waste your money here, if you are having hair problems think closer to, lifestyle change, stress etcI wasted almost £300 here with no results, think carefully before visiting this clinic, do your own research first!!!

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