Folliculitis: What Causes Back Acne and How Can It be Prevented?
Back acne, also known as pityrosporum folliculitis, is a skin condition that occurs when hair follicles are irritated and inflamed by the presence of yeast. This condition can range from mild to serious cases that might require medical treatments. In general, folliculitis symptoms can be managed with self-care measures and other forms of treatment.
Causes of Folliculitis
The underlying cause of folliculitis with back acne is typically yeast. This yeast is normally present on the skin’s surface, but too much of it can affect hair follicles and cause an infection. Folliculitis can occur on a superficial level in which only the top part of the follicle is affected, or it can be deeper and involve all or most of the follicle. When follicles are damaged, they are at greater risk of inflammation and infection, which leads to symptoms of folliculitis. Follicle damage can happen when clothing rubs against skin or when acne or other skin conditions are present. It can also occur from sweating, exposure to heat, or injuries to the skin.
Symptoms of Folliculitis
Folliculitis usually causes pustules that are red and itchy. These pustules commonly develop on the back but they can also occur on other parts of the body, including the chest, shoulders, neck, and upper arms. In some cases, they can also develop on the face. Skin in the affected area can develop a burning sensation along with itching. The skin can also become tender in some cases.
Risk Factors for Folliculitis
Folliculitis that is associated with back acne typically occurs in teenagers and adult men, according to the Mayo Clinic. There are some risk factors that can increase the risk of developing this condition, such as having a skin condition, playing sports, being overweight, or taking certain medications, such as anti-inflammatory creams that contain steroids. Other risk factors that raise the chance of having folliculitis include wearing tight-fitting clothing on a regular basis or having skin damage from surgery or from injuries.
Doctors typically diagnose folliculitis by conducting an examination of the affected area and taking the patient’s medical history into consideration, such as whether or not there are underlying conditions that can increase the risk of this skin condition.
For more severe cases, doctors might take a sample of the affected skin to have it examined in a laboratory. This helps determine the underlying cause of the infection. Doctors might also order a skin biopsy for the purpose of ruling out other medical conditions, although this is rare.
Treatments and Remedies for Folliculitis
Mild cases of folliculitis associated with back acne can be managed with home remedies, such as keeping the affected area clean or using lotions that ease itching. Placing a warm compress on the affected area can also help relieve tenderness.
For mild cases, doctors might recommend over-the-counter cleansers and self-care measures. Some examples include:
- CLn® SportWash Promotes good hygiene and is the daily cleanser to help remove dirt, sweat, and oil to unclog pores and leave the skin clinically clean and healthy. CLn® SportWash is easy to use in the shower and you can use a scrubber brush if the folliculitis is in difficult to reach areas such as your back.
- CLn® Acne Cleanser can be used if you only have a small area where folliculitis is occurring and acne is also present.
- CLn® Facial Cleanser Can be used daily, without irritation, and is formulated to minimize tightness and stinging – especially important if there is folliculitis on the face or it has presented as razor burn. This gentle cleanser contains glycerin and skin conditioners – allowing the skin to retain moisture.
Severe cases of pityrosporum folliculitis can be treated with the use of antifungal products, such as pills or creams. These help reduce the amount of yeast in the affected area, which eases the symptoms of this infection. For cases of folliculitis that do not respond to antifungal products or to self-care measures, doctors might recommend laser hair removal in order to get rid of the affected follicles. This might help treat infections, although this type of treatment is expensive and can have permanent effects, such as scarring.
The risk of folliculitis can be lowered by making a few lifestyle changes. These include wearing clothes that fit more loosely to reduce friction and managing underlying health conditions to reduce the risk of follicle infections. Washing with over-the-counter products that contain gentle ingredients, such as CLn® BodyWash and CLn® SportWash can help ease symptoms of folliculitis and lower the risk of recurrence. The CLn® products, which have been clinically tested, contain sodium hypochlorite that helps reduce bacteria on the skin’s surface. This helps those with skin prone to back acne and folliculitis.