You might find yourself wanting to know what folliculitis really is. Well, the answer is simple: folliculitis is the inflammation of the hair follicles, causing the skin above to become inflamed, red and to develop small pustules, filled with pus.
There are several ways to categorize folliculitis, from the way it manifests itself (though this is considered a tricky criterion, since the scarring is strikingly similar to that left by other skin diseases) to what causes it. The last criterion is the preferred one, since it is the easiest one to understand by the large non - medical community. Therefore, there have been defined and investigated the following types of folliculitis: fungal folliculitis (also known as Tinea Barbae, a condition present mostly on the bearded area of the face, though not only there) and bacterial folliculitis - Is Folliculitis Contagious.
Fungal folliculitis represents a large portion of the total folliculitis infections, but it does not pose any sort of real threat. It is very curable, even if the recurrence rate is slightly elevated and you could lose all of the affected hair if you do not visit your dermatologist in time.
On the other hand, bacterial folliculitis is a whole other kind of problem: it can not only destroy your exterior physical aspect, turning you bald in far less time than its fungal sibling, but it is caused by some highly pathogenic bacteria that are able to cross through the hair follicle straight into the bloodstream, in some severe cases. There are two main culprits when talking about bacterial folliculitis, each with its weaknesses and strong points: Pseudomonas aeruginosa (the infection with this bacterium leads to a variation of folliculitis knows as "hot tub folliculitis") and Staphylococcus aureus (causing your garden variety folliculitis, but being infinitely more dangerous to your body).
Pseudomonas folliculitis: a bacterial folliculitis that cannot be avoided
Pseudomonas folliculitis is a bacterial folliculitis that can be triggered at any time, simply because the bacterium that is to blame lives naturally, as a saprophyte on your skin, your clothes, the ground you walk on, actually protecting you from other, more dangerous and frightening, monsters. However, once you enter an environment that allows it to develop past its normal characteristics, Pseudomonas aeruginosa turns vicious and attacks you hair follicles. So, beware of public hot tubs, pools and even waterslides, since the bacterium loves wet and warm places.
The physical signs are not hard to notice: it presents itself in a series of small 0.5 inch red papules or wheals with a central pustule. Basically, the part of your skin that has come in direct and prolonged contact with the infected water will be filled with reddish and shiny disks that itch and will extend if you cannot stop yourself from touching them. Also, you have to keep in mind that the areas of your body that have been covered with a bathing suit or a wet towel will most likely be the first ones to manifest the little swellings.
As for treatment, the tiny pustules are better left to heal on their own. If they do not disappear in seven to ten days, you should visit your attending physician and have him or her take a look at your rash. If your medic considers it necessary, he or she could recommend you a topical cream or even an antibiotic, in more severe cases.
Do not be frightened by this pseudomonas folliculitis, since there have been no reported cases of death by folliculitis. It is annoying and sometimes it can kill your social life, but it can be cured and it most certainly does not threaten any sort of essential organs.
Now, if you leave it untreated for a long period of time, some very serious complications can appear, since the bacterium that causes pseudomonas folliculitis can penetrate the hair follicles and go straight into your blood stream, wreaking all sorts of havoc there.
The conclusion is that, once you notice something different about your skin, you should visit your specialist immediately.
Bacterial Folliculitis: the Staphylococcus aureus version
Not much can be said about this kind of bacterial folliculitis that was not already said about the others from the same category. The only difference between it and pseudomonas folliculitis is that this one is caused by a bacterium called Staphylococcus aureus. It leads to the exact same kind of physical manifestations, reddish disks with a puss - filled pustule on top.
However, pay close attention to this one, since it is the most dangerous one of all the folliculitis types out there: Staphylococcus aureus is a terribly vicious bacterium, being a deadly pathogen for a lot of your body systems, including your urinary tract and even your brain cells. Also, the bacteria are known for being able to develop an extremely antibiotic resistant form, making it impossible to treat. Keep in mind that this is simply a worse case scenario, since most of these pathogens do not manage to cross the hair follicle barrier and never make it into your blood stream.