The medical term for an infected hair follicle is folliculitis, this phenomenon of the human body is most often associated with shaving, but it can occur a variety of different ways. An infected hair follicle can often be mistaken for a variety of things ranging from as something as minimal as a pimple to something as serious as herpes.
It is best that you know how to properly identify a infected hair follicle as the treatment for it can cause other things, such as a herpes outbreak, to spread.
There are several ways to differentiate between an infected hair follicle, pimple or herpes. You should consider reading up on each and treat what best fits your symptoms. However, if you find yourself in serious doubt, it is best to consult a doctor.
Who Can Get Infect Hair Follicles and How Do They Happen?
Anyone is prone to infected hair follicles every now and then. It is just a part of life, especially if you shave the sensitive areas of the body. However, people with compromised immune systems, like those with diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and those who have cancer and are undergoing chemotherapy develop them more frequently and should avoid shaving and other activities that can cause a infected hair follicle.
Infected hair follicles are, in essence, a bacterial infection of the hair follicle. This can be caused by a hair getting ingrown into the skin, or just the bacteria itself. The biggest cause of infected hairs is shaving, so thus they are more apt to appear in areas you shave regularly. However infected hairs can be caused by those who use cortisone steroids, those who handle water resistant oils, staph bacteria getting into a hair follicle, and those who have been in a poorly maintained hot tub.
The good news is that these are easily treatable and are not contagious. They are just really unsightly and sometimes painful.
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How to Treat Folliculitis
Ingrown hairs can often be treated by over-the-counter antibiotic creams, so going to the doctor is usually not needed. A doctor visit should occur if the infection worsens or the ingrown hairs have shown no sign or healing after a week of treatment. Usually if the over-the-counter remedies do not work it is because you have a particularly bad infection that requires stronger antibiotics (more than likely a Staph infection) or it is something else, like Herpes.
Prior to adding ointment you should wash the affected area thoroughly with warm water and antibacterial soup (like Dial or most hand washing soaps). Dry the area with a clean towel and you are ready to apply the ointment. You can also apply hydrogen peroxide to help treat the infection.
If you have an actual ingrown hair in your infected hair follicle and it is stuck, you can dislodge it by running a sharp razor against the grain of the hair and over the bump. This will almost always get the hair out and growing right again. Be warned though, this will hurt a bit.
Ointments to treat infected hair follicles:
Neosporin (The kind with pain reliever works best as it also controls the pain)
Clearasil (or any acne cream with benzoyl peroxide)
After applying the cream, do not put a bandage on it. Avoid wearing tight clothing even. You want to let the infected hair follicle breathe as much as you can. It will heal faster and without a scar, providing you do not pick at it.
Preventing Infected Follicles
Preventing infected hair follicles starts first and foremost with good skin hygiene practices. Keep the skin as clean as you can, avoid unsanitary or questionably clean hot tubs, do not share razors, keeping razors sharp and avoid shaving too closely. When shaving always remember to keep the skin moist and use some sort of skin lubricant.
To even further prevent infected hair follicles, always shave with the grain of the hair. You sacrifice smoothness, but avoid unsightly bumps.