Causes and Getting Rid of Scalp Folliculitis

May 14, 2018

Scalp folliculitis is characterized by an itchy scalp with pustules that are small. The lesions can be few or many and are very itchy.

Folliculitis is a condition where hair follicles become inflamed. It can be due to a fungal or bacterial infection. The pustules will first look like small red or white bumps around the hair follicles. The infections can spread and turn to crusty sores if not treated.

Severe infections cause hair loss and scarring. Mild cases however clear easily with basic self-care.

Causes of Scalp Folliculitis

Scalp folliculitis is considered an inflammatory reaction to an accumulation of hair follicle components, especially micro-organisms. These microorganisms include bacteria, yeast, and mites.

The accumulation of these microorganisms is brought on by:

  • Prolonged use of hair products that are not friendly to the scalp. This ends up irritating the hair follicles.
  • Bathing or swimming with dirty water.
  • Any open wounds on the scalp act as a starting point for folliculitis
  • Diseases that drain the immune system like HIV.

Symptoms of Scalp Folliculitis

  • Small red pimples
  • Itchiness
  • Hair loss (the hairline suffers most)
  • Crusted and numerous pimples.

Severe cases of scalp folliculitis cause acne necrotica.  This causes larger papules that get inflamed and develop black crusts. This then leaves permanent scars on the scalp that look like those of chickenpox.

Another form is known as Perifolliculitis capitis abscedens and suffodiens. This is a rare but very severe form of folliculitis that often affects black adult men. Large nodules and cysts appear on the scalp accompanied by other smaller pustules and papules from which discharge comes out.

It may cause temporary hair loss and the lesions will eventually form permanent scars and bald patches. This form of folliculitis resists treatment and when severe, is mostly treated with oral isotretinoin, dapsone, antibiotics, and systemic steroids.

How to get rid of scalp folliculitis – treatment

There are different options available to treat scalp folliculitis. They include:

a). Over the Counter treatments

1. Medication

These include antibiotics like fusidic acid gel, tetracycline, or clindamycin solution. Antibiotics can be used either on a long term or short term basis depending on how severe the condition is. It is however recommended that one visits a dermatologist so as to determine the best medication depending on the severity.

Others include:

  • Oral antihistamines
  • steroid creams
  • oral antibiotics
  • isotretinoin
2. Shampoo

Scalp folliculitis shampoo should be mild and contain antifungal agents like ciclopirox and ketoconazole.

3. Draining

Boils can form if the hair follicles are severely infected. Boils are painful and filled with pus. when boils form into clusters they create a carbuncle, which is a deeper infection. A physician can drain the scalp boils to empty the pus.

b). Home treatments or remedies

One can use antibacterial soap and antifungal shampoos to clean the scalp. Other remedies include:

1. Hot compress

For effectiveness add a tablespoon of either vinegar or salt into one cup of hot water. Dip a clean towel into the mixture and massage affected areas to relieve itchiness.

2. Aloe Vera

Contains antibacterial properties. Scoop out some aloe gel from a leaf and apply it directly onto affected areas. Let it rest for 15 minutes then wipe off. Apply daily. It will reduce itchiness and heal any wounds.

3. Tea tree oil

This is a good antiseptic that clears any bacterial, viral, or fungal infections. It also treats inflammations. Apply a few drops daily to the scalp.

4. Castor oil

Apply it to the affected areas to alleviate pain and cool off inflamed pimples. Apply daily for effective results.

5. Coconut oil

Coconut oil in its pure form contains anti-oxidant and antibacterial properties. Apply daily to the scalp to speed up healing of affected hair follicles.


The above-mentioned remedies will help cure your folliculitis but it’s also advisable to clean your combs and hair materials after use. Do not also share towels, scarves, hats, and shaving blades. Visit a dermatologist the minute you suspect scalp folliculitis so that they can help curb the infection through medication.