Diagnosing Folliculitis

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Malassezia furfur, a type of yeast that causes folliculitis.

When making a diagnosis of folliculitis, a physician will look at the skin, take a clinical history and assess exposure to these 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.


During diagnosis, a physician or dermatologist will usually assess whether there is a bacterial or fungal infection causing folliculitis. Other types of micoorganism can also lead to folliculitis, but the most common culprits are Staphylococccus aureus (a bacterium), Candida albicans, and Malassezia yeasts.

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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