Dermatologists usually treat mild cases of folliculitis with antiseptic washes combined with topical antibiotics. Tea tree oil, obtained from a health food store, is a good topical antiseptic as well. A small percentage of individuals may develop an allergy to tea tree oil.
Mild to moderate boils respond well to hot water compresses. In some cases, oral antibiotic treatment should accompany topical treatment. The antiobiotic chosen is determined by the cause suspected in an individual case. If lesions contain large quantities of pus or liquid, the doctor will drain them. This allows the antibiotics to penetrate to the affected areas.
Some stubborn cases of folliculitis have been responsive to laser-assisted hair removal. This process uses a laser to destroy the follicle. This reduces the scarring that results from folliculitis. However, hair will no longer grow in the treated area.
Patients with chronic unresponsive folliculitis may require investigation into the source of the infection. S. aureus bacteria can live in the patient's nostrils, periodically triggering a folliculitis outbreak. Sometimes the bacteria colonize the nostrils of a family member who does not develop the disorder but repeatedly reexposes the patient to the microbe. To break the patient's cycle of recurrence, the family member must also undergo treatment.
Follow-Up Treatment for Folliculitis
Because of the recurrent nature of follicle disorders, it is essential that patients receive adequate follow-up care. The dermatologist may be able to recognize a recurrence before it becomes severe.
Individuals who are predisposed to folliculitis should be extremely careful about personal hygiene. Application of antiseptic washes may help prevent recurrences. A topical antibiotic cream, mupirocin (Bactroban®), has been effective at reducing bacterial colonization in the nostrils. It is applied twice daily for a week and is repeated every 6 months.
An individual who is frequently exposed to oil, tar, or other irritating chemicals should avoid those substances or wear protective gear. Patients with diabetes, obesity, or compromised immune systems should be aware of folliculitis as a possible consequence of their disorder.