Painful would best describe folliculitis–those bumpy, red, pus-filled pimples that appear on the hair follicle and give enough pain that you would wish body hair never existed. Folliculitis is an inflammatory condition of hair follicles–those small pouches from where body hair grows. Usually caused by the bacteria, staphylococcus aureus, folliculitis most commonly affects the arms, legs, back, buttocks, scalp, and beard area.1
Injuries Can Lead To Folliculitis
An injury (from shaving, rough clothes or blockages caused by sweat, makeup, etc) to the hair follicle causes it to get infected and result in folliculitis. The presence of pustules alone does not indicate an infection; there are many noninfectious types of folliculitis, too.2 Remember, some people like those with diabetes or a weak immune system could be more prone to developing folliculitis than others.
How Do You Know You Have Folliculitis?
If you have tender pimples that itch or burn with a hair in the center, it is most likely folliculitis. The pimples may have pus in them and at the height of the infected stage, when the pimples break open, they may drain pus or blood, or both.
10 Best Natural Remedies For Folliculitis
Painful as it is, folliculitis is usually minor and will go away on its own without the need for any treatment. Good hygiene and washing with an antibacterial soap are all that are required. For more serious cases like deeper or nonhealing lesions, antibiotic treatments and antihistamines may be necessary. However, there are quite a few natural home remedies that are effective in treating folliculitis. Let’s have a look.
1. White Vinegar
A potential antibacterial and disinfectant agent, white vinegar can cure folliculitis since it is useful in reducing staphylococcus aureus bacteria.3
Mix one tablespoon of white vinegar to two cups of water. Then dip some cotton balls in this solution and apply it on the boil. Keep the cotton balls firmly pressed on the boil for 20 minutes. Re-apply if necessary. This treatment should be done twice daily for a few days. Any superficial boils will clear up in one to two days.
2. Tea Tree Oil
For those with scalp folliculitis, using a shampoo which contains tea tree oil is considered to be beneficial. Tea tree oil is believed to be a natural germicide. It has the ability to disrupt the permeability barrier of cell membrane structures of the disease-causing microbes. Regular use of tea tree oil shampoo can help prevent the recurrence of scalp folliculitis.4
Like tea tree oil, garlic also has antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. It is also a rich source of sulfur which is beneficial in preventing various skin disorders. However, care should be taken when opting for this herbal treatment. Since garlic is strong, applying garlic directly on the infected follicle can burn the skin.5
Another easy to use herbal treatment is thyme. Thyme contains thymol, a chemical compound that has antibacterial properties that can help clear staphylococcus infection in folliculitis.6
This herbal plant is believed to be a good home remedy for folliculitis. Its anti-inflammatory properties help in calming and soothing the aggravated follicles.7 Honeysuckle needs to be taken internally. Having a concoction made from boiling honeysuckle leaves with water will help fight the bacteria from within.
Goldenseal, a small perennial herb, is a good antimicrobic agent with bacteriostatic activity against a host of bacteria, especially staphylococcus aureus.8 Like honeysuckle, goldenseal should also be taken internally as soon as the symptoms appear. It can also be used by making a paste using powdered goldenseal and water. This paste needs to be applied directly to the affected area which is then covered with a clean bandage and left on overnight.
7. Neem Leaves
One of the easiest home remedies for folliculitis, neem has been used since ages to treat all kinds of skin disorders. Rich in antibacterial, antiseptic, and antifungal properties, neem can effectively cure folliculitis infection as well as soothe the follicles.9
Boil a lot of neem leaves in two liters of water. Let the water cool. Then bathe the affected areas with this water. Do this twice a day and the infected follicle will soon heal.
8. Aloe Vera
Much like neem, aloe vera too has antimicrobial,10 antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties that are effective in curing folliculitis infections. It also works to soothe the irritated hair follicles and reduces the pain and swelling and burning or itching sensation. Apart from all this, aloe vera also helps to repair the damaged hair follicle and heal it.
Wipe and clean an aloe leaf, remove the gel from within it, and apply it all over the affected area. Let it remain for at least 15 minutes. Repeat the process three times a day till a complete cure is achieved.
9. Coconut Oil
As research and studies have shown, coconut oil, especially virgin coconut oil, is full of essential nutrients with healing and curing properties. Brimming with antibacterial, antifungal and antimicrobial properties, it can easily cure folliculitis.11
Rub or apply pure coconut oil to the affected areas three times a day.
Yet another home remedy is turmeric. Turmeric contains a strong anti-inflammatory compound–curcumin–that has been shown to effectively treat skin disorders like folliculitis. It also boasts of antifungal and antibacterial properties.12
Turmeric can be used both internally as well as externally. To use, simply dissolve one teaspoon of turmeric to a glass of water, and consume twice a day. Additionally, you can make a paste of turmeric and water or coconut oil, apply it over the affected parts and cover lightly with a bandage. Repeat the process after 12 hours.
Homeopathy To The Rescue
Homeopathy treats the patient as a whole, focusing on not just the disease symptoms, but the whole individual and his pathological condition.13 The homeopath will try to treat more than just the presenting symptoms and a correct homeopathic remedy will try to rectify the disease predisposition as well. Hence, it is better to consult with a homeopath first in order to select the most appropriate medicines. Homeopathy can be considered as a useful alternative along with conventional treatments.
|↑1||Luelmo-Aguilar, Jesús, and Mireia Sàbat Santandreu. “Folliculitis.” American journal of clinical dermatology 5, no. 5 (2004): 301-310.|
|↑2||Luelmo-Aguilar, Jesús, and Mireia Sàbat Santandreu. “Folliculitis.” American journal of clinical dermatology 5, no. 5 (2004): 301-310.|
|↑3||Komiyama, Edson Yukio, Graziella Nuernberg Back-Brito, Ivan Balducci, and Cristiane Yumi Koga-Ito. “Evaluation of alternative methods for the disinfection of toothbrushes.” Brazilian oral research 24, no. 1 (2010): 28-33.|
|↑4||Raman, A., U. Weir, and S. F. Bloomfield. “Antimicrobial effects of tea‐tree oil and its major components on Staphylococcus aureus, Staph. epidermidis and Propionibacterium acnes.” Letters in Applied Microbiology 21, no. 4 (1995): 242-245.|
|↑5||Iciek, Małgorzata, Inga Kwiecień, and Lidia Włodek. “Biological properties of garlic and garlic‐derived organosulfur compounds.” Environmental and molecular mutagenesis 50, no. 3 (2009): 247-265.|
|↑6||Smith-Palmer, A., J. Stewart, and Lorna Fyfe. “Antimicrobial properties of plant essential oils and essences against five important food-borne pathogens.” Letters in applied microbiology 26, no. 2 (1998): 118-122.|
|↑7||Jin, Xue-Hai, Kazuhiro Ohgami, Kenji Shiratori, Yukari Suzuki, Yoshikazu Koyama, Kazuhiko Yoshida, Iliyana Ilieva, Tsuneo Tanaka, Kazunori Onoe, and Shigeaki Ohno. “Effects of blue honeysuckle (Lonicera caerulea L.) extract on lipopolysaccharide-induced inflammation in vitro and in vivo.” Experimental Eye Research 82, no. 5 (2006): 860-867.|
|↑8||Knight, Sherilynn Eddy. “Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) versus penicillin: a comparison of effects on Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pyogenes, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.” Bios (1999): 3-10.|
|↑9||Biswas, Kausik, Ishita Chattopadhyay, Ranajit K. Banerjee, and Uday Bandyopadhyay. “Biological activities and medicinal properties of neem (Azadirachta indica).” CURRENT SCIENCE-BANGALORE- 82, no. 11 (2002): 1336-1345.|
|↑10||Habeeb, Fatema, Eisin Shakir, Fiona Bradbury, Pamela Cameron, Mohamad R. Taravati, Allan J. Drummond, Alexander I. Gray, and Valerie A. Ferro. “Screening methods used to determine the anti-microbial properties of Aloe vera inner gel.” Methods 42, no. 4 (2007): 315-320.|
|↑11||Verallo-Rowell, Vermén M., Kristine M. Dillague, and Bertha S. Syah-Tjundawan. “Novel antibacterial and emollient effects of coconut and virgin olive oils in adult atopic dermatitis.” Dermatitis 19, no. 6 (2008): 308-315.|
|↑12||Negi, P. S., G. K. Jayaprakasha, L. Jagan Mohan Rao, and K. K. Sakariah. “Antibacterial activity of turmeric oil: a byproduct from curcumin manufacture.” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 47, no. 10 (1999): 4297-4300.|
|↑13||Itamura, R. “Effect of homeopathic treatment of 60 Japanese patients with chronic skin disease.” Complementary Therapies in Medicine 15, no. 2 (2007): 115-120.|