Folliculitis refers to inflammation of hair follicles and develops when hair follicles become damaged, which can happen due to friction from clothing or irritation caused by shaving.

It is also known as “barber’s itch” when folliculitis occurs in the beard area of the face. It usually involves redness and swelling, and often an infection may develop. The affected follicles usually become infected with the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus (staph).  Some common symptoms include a rash, itching, pimples or pustules, usually in the neck or groin area.

The following sections offer detailed information for some common questions and different elements of folliculitis.

Forego the close shave

  • That means choosing a single-blade over a double-blade razor, shaving in the direction of your hair growth, and not pulling skin taut while shaving.

Choose a lubricating shave gel

  • It will make skin less prone to nicks and cuts.

Use a new blade

  • Opt for a sharp blade and preferably a new one each time you shave.

Calm your skin

  • Putting a cool compress on freshly shaved skin can prevent irritation and swelling.

At home, you can try relieving folliculitis symptoms by applying a hot, moist compress to the affected area. Should the infection worsen or not resolve on its own within 2 to 3 days, see your doctor. Topical or oral antibiotics may be required.

Folliculitis has the tendency to return. You can also think about preventing the next by following these tips:

Avoid clothing friction. Skin can get irritated by scratchy or restrictive clothing (e.g. closed shirt collars, scarves or turtlenecks).

Try to shave less often. Take a break from shaving when you can, such as on weekends. When you do have to shave, make sure to use a clean, new razor each time; or use an electric razor instead.

Keep it clean. Avoid touching affected skin with dirty hands or washcloths. Change clothing regularly.