What is it?

Folliculitis happens when an ingrown hair (a hair that was trapped under the skin before it was able to surface) also causes bacterial infection. The infection typically forces the hair out of the surface, but you’re left with inflammation and a plug of bacteria, dead skin cells, and oils.

This typically results in discomfort, itching, and sometimes outright pain.


Folliculitis can be treated in a number of ways. A warm compress can help sooth any itching that may occur. For folliculitis on the scalp or beard, a medicated shampoo or antibacterial cleanser will help treat it. Over the counter antibiotic ointment can help topically.

Smoothing a hydroxy acid serum into clean skin will help treat and prevent bumps. One of my favorite hydroxy acids to help soothe folliculitis is mandelic acid. It is naturally antibacterial and antifungal, so it is particularly effective for folliculitis-prone skin.

Should the bumps spread or persist, a doctor can prescribe an oral antibiotic to kill the bacteria. (I suggest avoiding oral antibiotics unless absolutely necessary, as they can mess with your whole body.)

Shaving and Hair Removal

While the bumps are present, I highly discourage shaving. If you absolutely must shave, use an electric razor, or a safety razor with only one blade and shaving cream or cleanser to help the blade glide.

Other types of hair removal should be used with caution. Depilatory creams will cause additional inflammation, and should be avoided. Waxing, sugaring, or epilating should be done with caution, some clients find it helps reduce additional bumps, others find these methods aggravating. My recommendation is to get your skin to a calm, inflammation-free state before trying any hair removal methods.

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