Folliculitis: Inflamed Hair Follicles that Can Cause Hair Loss
A bacterial or viral infection of the hair follicles can be the cause of folliculitis.
It may be easy to ignore small bumps or pustules in the scalp for a variety of reasons. You may think it is a simple pimple, as acne occasionally occurs in the scalp. Also, inflammation and irritation is not typically visible past the hairline, depending on where it falls and how you style your hair. Sometimes, skin infections will just “go away.” Sometimes, they will not.
Unfortunately, some scalp infections cause hair itself to go away – permanently. Folliculitis typically occurs where there is a break in the skin, allowing entry of bacteria (including the serious staph infection known as MRSA), viruses or fungi, including yeast infections. These infections of the hair follicles can occur anywhere on the body – humans have hair almost everywhere – which in the scalp may be due to shaving, tight braiding, an injury or a chemical burn (such as from a styling or dyeing treatment).
Entry of the infectious pathogen into the skin break is more likely under certain conditions: poor hygiene, being immuno-compromised (such as with HIV, or if you are diabetic), submersion in dirty water (hot tubs, dirty natural streams and ponds, unchlorinated pools), the habitual wearing of hats or headgear, excessive use of hair pomades that block pores or long-term use of antibiotics or steroid creams.
Health officials suggest home treatments of folliculitis (e.g., a warm compress of white vinegar or medicated shampoos). However, it the condition persists for more than two weeks, medical attention should be sought. If a patient allows the infection to continue, it can result in the death of the follicles themselves, rendering that area hairless. Once the hair follicles are gone, hair will not return.