What Is Herpetic Folliculitis? Its Causes And How To Treat It?

Folliculitis is inflammation and infection of the hair follicles. It may occur on any part of hairy skin. Generally the condition develops on scalp, cheeks, face, extremities, chest, and genital area having dense hair growth. Folliculitis can also develop on buttocks even though hair growth is less. The condition usually results due to damaged hair follicle. This damage can occur due to several reasons such as shaving, waxing, friction with jewelry and tight fitting clothes. The damaged hair follicle can become infected with several organisms, commonly bacteria, fungus and virus.

Folliculitis can be differentiated into several types, bacterial folliculitis, fungal folliculitis, viral folliculitis, and parasitic folliculitis.

All of them are superficial, meaning they develop on external surface of the skin, leaving aside palm and soles.

Herpetic folliculitis is one such entity. Though very uncommon, it occurs due to herpes virus infection. In herpetic folliculitis there are small fluid filled red bumps surrounding the hair follicle. Most often herpetic folliculitis develops in the corner of mouth or on the face. Involvement of hair follicle is more with Varicella –Zoster virus, rather than Herpes simplex virus infection.

Causes Of Herpetic Folliculitis

Herpetic follicultis is caused due to herpes virus, either Varicella Zoster virus or herpes virus simplex.

Once the virus enters into the system it produces primary infection which ultimately heals within few days. However, the virus stays inside the body in dormant stage for a long period in the nerve roots of the spinal cord. Under favorable circumstances, such as when a patient has low immune level, the virus gets a chance to re-surge and manifest its symptoms.

  • Use of common shaving kit or blade which is infected with herpes virus can lead to proliferation of the virus into the healthy individual. This is more common in men while shaving their beard.
  • People having immunocompromised state, are at a greater risk of suffering from herpetic folliculitis.
  • Patient suffering from HIV infection, SLE, taking chemotherapy are also at risk of suffering from this condition.

The symptoms of herpetic folliculitis include formation of fluid filled blisters around the hair follicle. There are group of blisters in one area. There is intense burning pain. The lesion remains for few days before healing.

Herpetic follciulitis can become infectious through close contact. The virus can enter into a healthy person through cuts or broken skin if he comes in contact with lesions of an infected individual. Sharing common dining utensils and garments can also spread the infection.

How To Treat Herpetic Folliculitis?

Since there are several types of folliculitis, it is necessary to differentiate herpetic folliculitis from others. This is because, the treatment may vary. Herpetic folliculitis is a self limiting disease. After few days the blisters will heal. But they may recur often. Therefore dermatologists usually prescribe anti viral oral medications to reduce severity as well as its course.

  • Patient should avoid wearing tight fitting clothes. Wearing lose clothes helps free air movement.
  • Patient should stop shaving the affected part.
  • Wash the infected area with antiseptic soap.
  • Patient should follow good personal hygiene to prevent spread of the virus to other non infected individuals.
  • They should eat healthy food to boost his immune system.

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