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Have you noticed a cluster of small, red bumps on your chin, face or neck, or do you have sometimes get a large bump on your chest or back? These bumps or blisters could be a sign of folliculitis, an infection of the hair follicles that's common among African-American men and women. Mild cases of folliculitis go away on their own; but a topical treatment can speed the process to help heal this skin condition and more importantly help prevent it from recurring.
There are two broad categories of folliculitis: superficial folliculitis and deep folliculitis. Superficial folliculitis affects the top of the hair follicle while deep folliculitis goes deeper into the skin to affect the entire hair follicle. Each category contains four sub-types.
Staphylococcal folliculitis – This is the most common type of folliculitis, characterized by bumps that are itchy and can appear anywhere on the body where there is hair. Staphylococcal folliculitis is caused by the staph bacteria, which can enter the body through shaving or scratching or a cut. This type can be prevented by using a safe razor or shaving in the direction of hairs rather than against them.
Pseudomonas folliculitis – This type is known as "hot tub" folliculitis because the psudeomonas bacteria is often found in hot tubs. Pseudomonas folliculitis typically appears eight hours to five days after exposure and looks like a rash of round, red bumps that may eventually develop into blisters. To prevent this type of folliculitis, avoid public hot tubs altogether or remove a wet bathing suit and shower immediately after using a hot tub.
Pseudofolliculitis barbae – This is the clinical term for razor bumps and many people easily mistaken it for acne Pseudofolliculitis barbae occurs while shaving. It is common among African-American men and women because the shape of the hair follicle makes it much easier for hair to curve back into the skin and cause inflammation.
Pityrosporum folliculitis – This type is caused by yeast and is most common among teenagers and adult African-American men. If you have have red, itchy blisters on your back, chest, upper arms or face that never seem to go away, it could be pityrosporum folliculitis.
Sycosis barbae – This is another type of folliculitis caused by shaving. Small blisters may appear along the lip line and on the cheeks or chin. Because black skin is prone to scarring, African-Americans, sycosis barbae can leave dark scars.
Gram-negative folliculitis – This type typically follows a long-term antibiotic acne treatment. Antibiotics alter the levels of bacteria, sometimes causing an overgrowth of gram-negative bacteria, resulting in post-acne lesions.
Boils and carbuncles – Boils and carbuncles appear as a result of excessive staph bacteria. Boils usually appear as small bumps that eventually grow and fill with pus before rupturing. A carbuncle is a cluster of boils that typically appear on the back of the neck. Carbuncles are a more severe infection than boils and can leave scars.
Eosinophilic folliculitis – This type occurs among people with HIV, appearing as recurring patches of inflamed, pus-filled sores, primarily on the face and sometimes on the back or upper arms. The sores are usually itchy, often spread to other parts of the body, and, oftentimes, cause hyperpigmentation.
One of the best ways to treat folliculitis is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. As folliculitus is often caused by irritated follicles, keeping skin prone to folliculitus properly cleansed and exfoliated is half the battle. Using a cleanser with Salicylic Acid to go deep within the pores and sweep away impurities, debris and pore clogging oils and dirt will significantly reduce the opportunity for bacteria to find its way into pores and cause trouble.
Milder cases of folliculitis often disappear on their own, or with special care. Using clean razors, shaving in the direction of the hair curve, and gentle exfoliation can help prevent or clear superficial folliculities. Anti-bacterial face washes or anti-fungal body washes and shampoos can also be effective folliculitis treatments, particularly when used in conjunction with a topical antifungal cream. Other simple ways – use clean washcloths and towels, clean razor every time after shaving, and don't shave if bumps are evident – try a depilatory cream or lotion.
For African-Americans who face the challenge of both folliculitis and hyperpigmentation, finding a comprehensive skin care system that treats dual skin care concerns is important- and without further irritating the skin. Try Rx for Brown Skin's Calm, Cool and Clear Kit, specifically designed to provide the fastest and most effective visible results to keep skin clear, smooth and breakout-free.