Diagnosing Folliculitis

by L Matthews on August 17, 2017

When diagnosing folliculitis, a physician will look at the skin, take a clinical history and assess exposure to a variety of risk factors. A skin swab may be taken if usual treatments fail to resolve folliculitis, and this sample will be used to determine the cause of any infection. Skin biopsy is rarely necessary, but may be performed to rule out other skin conditions.


Diagnosing folliculitis often involves a physician or dermatologist testing for signs of bacterial or fungal infection. The most common culprits are Staphylococccus aureus (a bacterium), Candida albicans, and Malassezia yeasts. Other types of infectious microorganisms can also cause folliculitis, however.

In some cases, folliculitis is not related to an infection of the hair follicle. Instead, it may be caused by ingrowing hairs. To increase the chances of successful treatment, it is important to first determine what is causing folliculitis.

What Happens After Diagnosing Folliculitis?

Once a diagnosis of folliculitis has been made, treatments will be prescribed depending on the severity and cause of the problem. Personal preferences and existing skin care regimens will also be taken into account. It is also important to look at ways to reduce the risk of reinfection, rather than simply concentrating on symptomatic relief or short-term eradication of infection.

Untreated or poorly managed folliculitis can lead to recurrent and spreading infection, boils under the skin (furunculosis), large and itchy skin plaques, destruction of hair follicles (causing permanent hair loss), and permanent skin damage, such as hyperpigmentation.

Read on to learn about folliculitis treatment.

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