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Dermatologic Disorders
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Table of contents:
FOLLICULITIS (Including Sycosis)
General Considerations
Clinical Findings
Differential Diagnosis
Complications
Prevention
Treatment
Prognosis
FOLLICULITIS (Including Sycosis)
ESSENTIALS OF DIAGNOSIS
Itching and burning in hairy areas.
Pustules in the hair follicles.
General Considerations
Folliculitis has multiple causes. It is frequently caused by staphylococcal infection and may be more common in the diabetic patient. When the lesion is deep-seated, chronic, and recalcitrant on the head and neck, it is called sycosis.
Gram-negative folliculitis, which may develop during antibiotic treatment of acne, may present as a flare of acne pustules or nodules. Klebsiella, Enterobacter, Escherichia coli, and Proteus have been isolated from these lesions.
“Hot tub folliculitis,” caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa, is characterized by pruritic or tender follicular, pustular lesions occurring within 1–4 days after bathing in a contaminated hot tub, whirlpool, or public swimming pool. Rarely, systemic infections may result. Neutropenic patients should avoid these exposures.
Nonbacterial folliculitis may also be caused by friction and oils. Occlusion, perspiration, and rubbing, such as that resulting from tight jeans and other heavy fabrics on the upper legs can worsen this type of folliculitis.
Steroid acne may be seen during topical or systemic corticosteroid therapy.
A form of sterile folliculitis called eosinophilic folliculitis consisting of urticarial papules with prominent eosinophilic infiltration is common in patients with AIDS. It may appear first with institution of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) and be mistaken for a drug eruption.
Pseudofolliculitis is caused by ingrowing hairs in the beard area. It occurs in men and women with tightly curled beard hair. In this entity, the papules and pustules are located at the side of and not in follicles. It may be treated by growing a beard, by using chemical depilatories, or by shaving with a foil-guard razor. Laser hair removal is dramatically beneficial in patients with pseudofolliculitis, requires limited maintenance, and can be done on patients of any skin color. Pseudofolliculitis is a true medical indication for such a procedure and should not be considered cosmetic.
Clinical Findings
The symptoms range from slight burning and tenderness to intense itching. The lesions consist of pustules of hair follicles (Figure 6–27).
Differential Diagnosis
It is important to differentiate bacterial from nonbacterial folliculitis. The history is important for pinpointing the causes of nonbacterial folliculitis, and a Gram stain and culture are indispensable. One must differentiate folliculitis from acne vulgaris or pustular miliaria (heat rash) and from infections of the skin such as impetigo or fungal infections. Pseudomonas folliculitis is often suggested by the history of hot tub use. Eosinophilic folliculitis in AIDS often requires biopsy for diagnosis.
Complications
Abscess formation is the major complication of bacterial folliculitis.
Figure 6–27. Bacterial folliculitis. (Used, with permission, from Berger TG, Dept Dermatology, UCSF.)
Prevention
Correct any predisposing local causes such as oils or friction. Be sure that the water in hot tubs and spas is treated properly. If staphylococcal folliculitis is persistent, treatment of nasal or perineal carriage with rifampin, 600 mg daily for 5 days, or with topical mupirocin ointment 2% twice daily for 5 days, may help. Prolonged oral clindamycin, 150–300 mg/d for 4–6 weeks, or oral TMP-SMZ given 1 week per month for 6 months can be effective in preventing recurrent staphylococcal folliculitis and furunculosis. Bleach baths (½ to 1 cup per 20 liters of bathwater for 15 minutes 3–5 times weekly) may reduce cutaneous staphylococcal carriage and not contribute to antibiotic resistance. Control of blood glucose in diabetes may reduce the number of these infections.
Treatment

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