Treat an inflamed hair follicle in the groin, back or scalp

Suffering from an inflamed hair follicle? Folliculitis is a medical term that refers to an inflammation of the upper part of the hair follicle, also called a ‘hair follicle’. Infected hair follicles are very common and they appear as red bumps, often with an unsightly pus head. This skin condition affects people of all ages, from babies and children to the elderly. The small smooth red bumps are often seen on the face, legs, groin, back, chest and scalp around the hair follicles. Healthy people can get folliculitis and it is easy to treat. It usually subsides spontaneously, but sometimes maintenance therapy is required.

  • What is folliculitis?
  • Causes of an inflamed hair follicle
  • Micro organisms
  • Risk factors
  • Inflamed hair follicle in groin, back or scalp symptoms
  • Phenomena
  • Preferred places
  • Diagnosis and research
  • Treating an inflamed hair follicle
  • Warm compress
  • Medicated shampoo
  • Medication
  • Preventing folliculitis

Inflamed hair follicle: red bump with a pus head / Source: Jmarchn, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)

What is folliculitis?

Folliculitis is an inflammation of the hair follicles. Every hair on your body grows from a small sac, called a hair follicle. You can develop folliculitis on any part of your body that has hair. Preferred places are the face, especially the beard area and arms, back, groin, buttocks and legs.

Causes of an inflamed hair follicle

Micro organisms

An infected hair follicle can be caused by bacteria, yeast, fungi, or a virus. Staphylococci are often the culprits. These belong to the ‘normal’ skin bacteria. When a hair follicle is damaged, you are more likely to develop folliculitis. Clothing that rubs against the skin or shaving can irritate the hair follicles, which can lead to folliculitis. Irritation or congestion can also occur as a result of the use of make-up, skin oil or skin cream, or due to sweat. Once a follicle is damaged, there is a chance that it will become inflamed.

Risk factors

You are at greater risk of developing folliculitis in the following cases:

  • reduced resistance or reduced immunity, as is the case with HIV, for example;
  • a wound that is a portal of entry for fungi or bacteria;
  • you work or use substances that can cause blockage or irritation of the follicles, for example greasy (skin) products or make-up;
  • using a swimming pool, hot tub or whirlpool that is not properly cleaned with chlorine;
  • wearing tight clothes.

Inflamed hair follicles on the neck / Source: Lforlav, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)

Inflamed hair follicle in groin, back or scalp symptoms


Symptoms of an inflamed hair follicle or hair follicle include:

  • bumps or pimples (with a pus head)
  • a red color around the bump;
  • pain or tenderness; and
  • burning or itchy skin.

Preferred places

Preferred locations of inflamed hair follicles are the hairy scalp, face and neck, limbs (arms and legs), and the groin and buttocks.

Diagnosis and research

The doctor will look at your skin and ask you all kinds of questions about your complaints and your (general) health. The diagnosis is often made directly, and a skin biopsy is normally not necessary. The doctor will try to find out what the possible cause or trigger is for the inflamed hair follicles. This is important for healing and to prevent recurrence.

Treating an inflamed hair follicle

Mild folliculitis usually heals on its own within about 2 weeks. You can do the following yourself to promote healing and relieve complaints:

Warm compress

A warm compress can relieve itching and promote healing. To make a warm compress, dip a towel in warm water. Wring out the excess water and place the towel on the affected skin.

Medicated shampoo

This can be used to treat folliculitis on the scalp or beard. You can use disinfectant soap (iodine or chlorhexidine) in other places.


If the inflammation gets worse or does not go away, you should consult your doctor. He may prescribe medications such as an antibiotic, anti-yeast cream, an anti-yeast shampoo, an anti-fungal cream or anti-fungal tablets. What the doctor prescribes depends on the cause.

Use a clean towel every time / Source: Pexels, Pixabay

Preventing folliculitis

There are a number of things you can do to prevent folliculitis from getting, keeping it, or spreading it. Please observe the following measures:

  • Bathe or shower daily with a mild soap.
  • Also bathe or shower after physical exertion and after working with chemicals.
  • Avoid sharing towels, washcloths, or other personal items.
  • Use a clean washcloth and towel every time.
  • Avoid scratching the inflamed hair follicles.
  • Avoid shaving in case of razor bumps. If you still want to shave, use a clean razor every time.
  • Avoid using oil on your skin. Oils can cause bacteria to become trapped in the pores of the skin and this can cause folliculitis.
  • After using public hot tubs, jacuzzi, etc., shower immediately with soap. If you have your own hot tub, follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding cleaning it.

read more

  • Folliculitis: symptoms, cause, prevention and treatment
  • Skin disorders AZ: symptoms, cause and treatment
  • Itchy scalp: symptoms and causes of itching on the head
  • Itching in the groin or inguinal fold: symptoms, cause and treatment
  • Itchy red spots on skin on arms, legs, back or chest