Scalp Folliculitis

What Is Scalp Folliculitis?

Most people never experience anything like scalp folliculitis in their lives-perhaps a bout or two with dandruff or some minor acne throughout their lives-especially once their teenage years have past. For others, this condition (sometimes mistaken as acne) pops up at the most inopportune times. Though there are no specific reasons for the outbreaks, some standard factors are those with compromised immune systems, diabetes or those suffering cancer. Skin trauma after surgery can be another factor as well as obesity and those living in warm, humid environments.

Scalp folliculitis is an inflammatory condition involving the hair follicles. Most often occurring on the head or around the hairline, this disorder can irrupt on the face, neck, arms, armpits, the back and legs-basically anywhere there are hair follicles. It is contagious-easily passed from person to person, so all care should be taken once you are sure you have the condition.

An outbreak of scalp folliculitis can consist of a few white head type pimples and/or bumps (pustules that are bluish hi appearance) along the hairline or it can involve a numerous amount of acne type activity. It is caused by bacteria that has invaded the follicles, mixed with sebum and under the right conditions resulted in this itchy, unsightly, persistent condition.

Though bacteria are generally at the root of folliculitis, it can also be caused by yeast, fungus or mites/parasites (that are a natural part of forehead activity) as well as a virus. Because it itches, scratching makes it easier for those infected to spread the condition on their own bodies as well as to others. The infected area is usually sore and the sores crust over as they progress to their healing stage.

Bacterial, fungal and yeast folliculitis are all caused by a topical presence on the skin. Of course, bacteria are everywhere, with funguses a close second. Either yeast or funguses can invade the lower layers of the skin and spread to the blood in extreme cases. Parasites or mites are micro-organisms that actually burrow into the follicles and lay their eggs. This condition involves itching, skin shedding and pimples that can or may not contain pus.


The condition affects both men and women equally. Mild cases can be eliminated with improved cleanliness practices and over the counter treatments resulting in healing on their own. More severe cases usually require a visit to a physician for a more targeted antibiotic treatment. Depending on the cause of the infection an antifungal medication may be required or even corticosteroids (adrenal steroid hormone) which are naturally in the body involved in metabolism/immune response but can be synthetic, as well. Its use is primarily for allergic reactions or for the control of inflammation.

If you find yourself among the ones prone to scalp folliculitis keep your scalp and all skin areas in the vicinity clean of excess oils as this makes a good breeding ground. Keep hair clean using anti dandruff shampoo. You might want to check into brands that contain antifungal agents using those especially formulated for oily scalps (often containing zinc) to keep the levels of sebum at their lowest.

As well as these standard treatments the diet is important-before, after and during this time. Though it is not generally thought that food directly affects this type of condition the diet does play an important part of the general health of the body.  By including whole foods (as apposed to a continuing diet of processed products), fruits, vegetables and lean protein choices we boost our immune system, keep our colons clean and preserve energy-all of which give our bodies the best chance of fighting off anything that tries to invade it.