Infected Hair Follicle: Causes, Ingrown, Treatment, How to Get Rid

What causes infected hair follicle? Get insights on the causes of folliculitis on scalp, legs head, ingrown hairs, treatment and how to get rid using the best home remedies.
Folliculitis is the medical term used to refer to inflammation of hair follicles. Infected follicles are very common and they appear as pinpoint red pimples, and in some people there is presences of a dot of pus at the tip. This skin infection affects people of all ages from infants to the elderly.
The small smooth red bumps are usually seen on face, legs, bum, back, chest and scalp around hair follicles. Infected follicle also develop in healthy people, but it is easy to treat. In most cases, it heals on its own but also you might be need a diagnosis.

Infected Hair Follicle Causes

Folliculitis is an inflammation of the hair follicle. Each hair in your body grows out of a tiny pouch known as a follicle. You can have folliculitis anywhere in your body that grows hair. But it is mostly common on the beard area, arms, back, buttocks, legs and chest.

Causes of folliculitis

Bacteria can be the cause, it also can be caused by yeast or another type of fungus. One may get folliculitis especially if you damaged hair follicles. Shaving or wearing tight clothes that rubs the skin can irritate the follicles, which can result to folliculitis. They also can be blocked or irritated by sweat, machine oils, or cosmetic products. When the follicles are injured, that is where they are more likely to become infected.
Here are some of the reasons that may lead to infected hair follicles:

  • Use a hot tub, whirlpool, or swimming pool that is not properly treated with chlorine.
  • Wearing tight clothes.
  • Use or work with substances that can irritate or block the pores. Including makeups, cocoa butter, motor oil, tar, and creosote.
  • Also having an infected cut, scrape, or surgical wound. The bacteria or fungi can spread to nearby hair follicles
  • Some serious diseases such as diabetes or HIV that lowers your ability to fight infections can also be the cause of infected hair follicles.

Infected hair follicles usually looks like red pimples with a hair in the center of each one. The pimples may form pus in them, and you may feel itchiness or burn. When the pimples break out, they may drain pus, blood, or both.
Hot tub folliculitis’ mostly occurs about 72 hours after you have been in hot tub or spa. Many tiny pimples develop on your stomach and upset stomach. Mostly, this kind of folliculitis disappear on their own after 7 to 10 days.
Infected hair follicles examination
Your professional therapist will examine your skin and also he/she may ask you about your health and activities. He or she may do tests to find out what may be causing your folliculitis and to make sure you are not at any risk or different problems, such as impetigo or heat rash. Testing a sample of the fluid in the pimples or even a sample of tissue can help your physician notice or learn what could be the cause of the infection.

Infected Hair Follicle on Scalp

Scalp folliculitis hair loss is usually caused by an infection of the scalp, but you may be interested in recognizing it and also how to treat it and prevent unhealthy scalp and infected hair follicles. Accompanied by itching or soreness, folliculitis is often temporary but more severe cases cannot be easy to treat and cause damage to hair and scalp that leave bald patches.

What is folliculitis and how does it look like

It is an inflammation due to an infection of the hair follicles that can result hair loss. Folliculitis can affect hair follicles on the scalp or in any part of your body.
You may be asking yourself how to identify folliculitis, look for tiny spots like acne with small rings of inflammation around the opening of a hair follicle, associated by itching and soreness.
In the early stages of folliculitis, hair fibers are commonly present, but as folliculitis progresses hair often breaks out. Most folliculitis may lead to extreme inflammation that can permanently destroy your hair follicles and leave bald spots on the scalp.
Non-infectious is usually caused by excess oils and sebum on the scalp that clog hair follicles. It is also possible to have infected hair follicles caused by viral, fungal, or yeast agents, such as herpes simplex. Although, in most cases, folliculitis is caused by a bacterial infection.
One of the most known hair follicle infections to cause folliculitis is staphylococcus aureus. And another one known as pseudomonas aeruginosa, resulting to hot tub folliculitis, which is an infection that grows in inadequately chlorinated water.

How to stop hair follicle on scalp

If you have minor scalp folliculitis try hair loss treatment, use over-the-counter topical antibiotic ointments. Or you are experiencing a more serious bacterial infections you may need a medical prescription for oral antibiotics or other drugs for fungal infection.
Wash the affected scalp regularly with a gentle shampoo. Anti-dandruff shampoos that contain anti-fungal agents. These will be helpful to your scalp.
Following a proper treatment, minor folliculitis will last only for some time like weeks and it will go away without any treatment. Children and adolescents who are prone to chronic folliculitis will usually grow out of the condition in their late teens.

  • Maintain your skin hygiene
  • Avoid unsanitary hot tub and pools
  • Do not share razors
  • Avoid shaving too closely
  • Replace your razor blades regularly
  • Always keep your skin well hydrated

Although folliculitis is generally not contagious, folliculitis caused by infectious agents may be spread through person to person skin contact, shared razors, or through Jacuzzis or hot tubs. It is usually possible give folliculitis to someone else through close contact. Most people have a higher risk of developing folliculitis because of their overall health, immune system status, history of exposure, and many more existing skin conditions such as eczema or also dry skin.

Promoting healthy scalp and hair

If you have been diagnosed with scalp folliculitis hair loss, take the medications prescribed by your doctor or pharmacist to treat the infected hair follicles. To help promote a healthy scalp, use a topical hair serum that soothes and cools the scalp.
Not only your scalp feel clean and refreshed, but it helps create the ideal environment for healthy hair growth and make your hair look thicker. Also a good gentle shampoo that exfoliates the scalp with a multifruit or botanical extract is also essential. It will help keep your scalp clean of dirt, debris and sebum, creating the ideal environment to promote healthy hair growth.

Infected Hair Follicle on Legs

Inflamed and infected hair follicle are the defining features of a medical condition known as folliculitis. Hair follicles become irritated when something damages them.
Research shows that the factor that can cause damaged hair follicles on legs include shaving, having an inflammatory skin disease like acne or wearing tight clothes that rub against the skin. Once follicles are damaged, bacteria, fungi and viruses can infect them worsen the condition.
Inflammation and irritation from hair dyes can also lead to infections on the scalp. Always use hypoallergenic hair colors to prevent such reactions.
According to the researchers, mild folliculitis usually clears up without intervention and more severe cases require medical attention, there some of the practices that can still reduce inflammation on legs.

  • Stop participating in practices or situations that can cause or increase follicle damage, such as removing your legs by tweezing or waxing, pursuing activities that make you sweat excessively and soaking your legs in hot water like that found in hot tubs.
  • Treat any underlying condition that contributes to your folliculitis. Apply appropriate acne products on your legs to eliminate pimples, or acne.
  • Press a moist, warm cloth against inflamed areas for at least 3 or more times a day to reduce irritation and promote drainage if follicles contain fluid, add white vinegar to the cloth for additional relief, if desired.
  • Wash your infected hair follicles on legs twice a day using a clean cloth and antibacterial soap, pat them dry with a clean towel. Apply non-prescription antibiotic product, such as a lotion or ointment, into the skin after washing for extra relief, if needed.
  • Apply a non-prescription product with hydrocortisone or a lotion containing oatmeal to infected hair follicles on legs to alleviate itching, if necessary.
  • Launder clothing, towels and washcloths after every occasion they come into contact with inflamed areas, use hot water and detergent to clean the items with good care.

If infected hair follicle persist and are due to hair removal, you should stop removing hair and do not remove hair again for approximately 3 months after inflammation improves. But if you must continue removing hair on your legs, although, research shows that shaving with an electric razor instead of a manual razors. Electric razors are a gentler option for removing hair on legs, or arms.

Infected Hair Follicle on head

Infected hair follicle on head can also be caused by allergies. An allergic response to irritant repeatedly applied to the skin. The skin has an immediate reaction especially on head to something that causes direct irritation. Infected hair follicle on head can develop from hair care products, in particular, hair dyes. These allergic responses have been discussed to promote warnings and skin testing on the products available from cosmetics.
Hair salon also have to follow guidelines to ensure safe use of hair colorant products.  The hair follicles can also become blocked or irritated by substances such as sweat, oils, some hairdressing practices can also be the cause of infected hair follicle on head.
Particularly those that cause tension and trauma to the hair and scalp, such as extensions, braiding and a tightly pulled up-do. Often regular sufferers find an eruption can occur after periods of illness or stress.

Infected Ingrown Hair Follicle

In most cases, they form red spots, which usually becomes infected and turn into painful, pus-filled sores. Ingrown hairs can be itchy and annoying, but after sometime they disappear on their own.
Anyone can get ingrown hairs, mostly they tend to be more of a problem in people with coarse or curly hair.

What may result to it?

Infected ingrown hair usually grows out of the skin, curled back ground and re-enter back in the skin. Some curl back into the hair follicle, small cavities in the skin that hairs grow out of without even exiting the skin. An ingrown hair can appear when the hair follicle becomes clogged with dead skin cells.
This forces the hair inside it to grow sideways, which is more likely to happen if the hair is already curly or coarse and may be you shaved recently. In most cases ingrown hair becomes problematic especially in some areas where you shave including the beard area, legs, armpits and pubic areas.
In these areas, the hair that grows back has a sharp edge and can easily poke back into the skin. They usually appear like pimples in the skin, and sometimes you can see the hair trapped beneath the skin. The spots can be filled with pus.
What to do

  • If possible, you should leave ingrown hairs for sometimes as they may go away on their own.
  • Do not scratch an ingrown hair as bacteria can enter the small wound created, increasing your risk of infection, and it can also cause scarring.
  • So not be tempted to squeeze the spots because it can end up damaging the skin and result to infection.
  • If an ingrown hair is near the surface of the skin, you can use a sterile needle or tweezers to gently remove it out. Though, do not dig for the hair if it lies deep below the skin surface.
  • Men who are prone to getting these infected hair follicle around their face, may find it easy to grow there beard. Longer hairs are not as sharp at the ends, so are less likely to become ingrown.

Pus-filled spots
The hair follicles will swell into pus-filled spots, however, pus does not always mean there is infection. Mild cases of folliculitis often clear up without any treatment, so try not to shave for a few days and see if it gets better.
You can also try dabbing a mild antiseptic such as tea tree oil, in the affected area. Visit your doctor if there is no any change and if these spots are much painful. And also antibiotics are usually needed if the skin is severely infected with pustules and abscesses.
Preventing ingrown hair
The easiest way to prevent infected hair follicles especially ingrown hair is to let your hair grow freely without shaving it. And if you must shave, here are some shaving tips you can follow:

  • Use a sharp single-bladed razor
  • Wet your skin with warm water and use a gel
  • Shave in the direction the hair is growing
  • Use as few strokes of the razor as possible
  • Rinse the razor after every stroke
  • Do not shave too closely, leave a bit of stubble if you can, as bacteria can enter the tiny opening of freshly shaved skin
  • You can also use some depilatory creams, electrolysis or laser removal

Infected Hair Follicle Treatment

The medical term for an infected follicle is folliculitis, which often associated with shaving. Treating the infected follicle of the hair requires lifestyle changes and products to resolve the infection, reduce the inflammation and calm the skin.
Step 1
Wash your hands before treating the folliculitis. Use soap and warm water, dry your hands afterwards using a clean towel.
Step 2
Squeeze a pea-sized amount of antibiotic ointment onto your clean fingertips. Massage the antibiotic ointment into the affected area. Do this at least 3 times a day.
Step 3
Avoid shaving in the area that contains the infected hair follicles. This condition usually disappear in a few weeks, so should avoid shaving the area during this time.
Step 4
Relieve pain and swelling with ibuprofen, if necessary. Follow the dosage instructions on the packaging label. According to the professionals, single dose for an adult is 800 mg. not to exceed more than 3,200 mg in a day.
Step 5
Visit your doctor’s office if the folliculitis does not respond or show any improvement within a week or if it becomes a chronic condition. Severe pain, swelling and discoloration of the skin are all signs of an infection that may need additional treatment with oral antibiotics or prescription antiseptics.
Note: avoid wearing tight fitting clothing when you have folliculitis. Friction caused by the tight clothing rubbing across your skin can make your condition worse.
Shaving in the same direction that hair grows is less irritating and may reduce instances of infected hair follicles.

How to Get Rid of Infected Hair Follicle

Ingrown hairs, commonly known as razor bumps, are hairs that have curled around and grown back into the skin instead of rising up from it. These razor bumps appear mostly among people who have curly hair.
An ingrown hair can produce a raised, red bump that look like a little pimple. At times, there may be pus inside the bump. It also causes redness, swelling, inflammation, pain and irritation in the area.
The condition develops mostly where people shave to get rid of unwanted hair, such as the beard area, legs, underarms, and bikini area. Some simple remedies can speed up the healing process and diminish the inflammation and redness.
As for the hair growing back into the skin, you can simply lift it out with a sterile straight pin or a pair of tweezers; do not pick or dig at your ingrown hair though.

Home remedies

Sugar is a great skin scrub that can help get rid of infected hair follicles. It gently exfoliates the skin, remove dead cells and helping the ingrown hair come out of the skin. Also it will make your skin silky smooth.

  • Mix one cup of white sugar with one-half cup of extra-virgin olive oil or jojoba oil.
  • Stir in 10 drops each of tea tree oil and lavender essential oil.
  • Gently scrub the skin in circular motions for a few minutes. Then rinse it off with lukewarm water.
  • Do this for at least 2 times a week to see suitable results.

Baking soda
This remedy has a soothing effect on the skin due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Also it helps relieve itching by exfoliating the skin and also reduces redness caused by ingrown hairs.

  • Mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda and 1 cup of water. Dip a cotton ball in the solution. Dab it on the infected hair follicles. Leave it on for 5 minutes and then wash it off using cold water. Repeat 2 or 3 times daily as needed.
  • You can also make a homemade scrub with 1 teaspoon each of baking soda and ground oatmeal and 1 tablespoon of water. Mix the ingredients together to create a paste. Apply it gently on the skin and let it stay for not more than 5 minutes. Then rinse it off with lukewarm water and gently pat the skin dry. Follow this remedy twice daily as needed.

Tea tree oil
It has antibacterial, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties that helps to heal the infected hair follicle and also prevent infection.

  • Add 5 drops of tea tree oil to 2 tablespoons of distilled water. Apply the diluted tea tree oil on the affected skin after cleaning the area with antibacterial soap. Leave it on for 10 minutes and then rinse the area with lukewarm water. Do this twice daily as needed.
  • Mix 3 drops of tea tree oil in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Apply the mixture on the affected area and gently massage it for a few minutes. Let it sit on for 10 minutes and then rinse with warm water. Follow the process twice daily to speed the healing.

Aspirin can help reduce redness and inflammation, the two most common symptoms of the ingrown hair. The anti-inflammatory property of aspirin reduces swelling, fights inflammation and treats mild infection. It also helps the salicylic acid present in aspirin scrubs away dead skin to loosen the offending hair.

  • Soak two aspirin tablets in one teaspoon of warm water until it forms a paste-like consistency.
  • Add one teaspoon of honey to the paste.
  • Apply the paste to the affected area.
  • Leave it on for 10 minutes. Wash it off with warm water and then gently pat the skin dry.
  • Follow this remedy once or twice a week as needed.

Note: those with highly sensitive skin should not follow this remedy.
Salt works as a great exfoliating agent and at the same time helps increase circulation, promote healing and reduce swelling.

  • Mix one and one-half teaspoons of table salt in one cup of lukewarm water.
  • Dip a cotton ball in the mixture and gently rub it over the affected skin.
  • Leave it on for a few minutes and then rinse it off with water.
  • Repeat this twice daily until the infected hair follicle clears up.

Note: do not use this remedy if your skin gets red or irritated.

Further References;

  1. Infected follicle of the hair:
  2. Folliculitis:
  3.  treat infected follicle: