DESCRIPTIONBacterial folliculitis is a superficial or deep bacterial irritation and infection of hair follicles of the skin. This is contagious. The skin anywhere on the body can be involved, but usually the condition affects the exposed areas of the arms, legs, and face.
Appropriate health care includes:
Self-care after diagnosis.
Physician's monitoring of general condition and medications.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSPustules are yellow-white and surrounded by narrow red rings.
Pustules are 1mm to 2mm in size; there may be few or many.
Pustules discharge a blood-stained pus made from dead cells.
Some pustules are pierced by hair; others may be adjacent to hair follicles.
Pustules (small white blisters with pus inside) with the following characteristics:
CAUSESInfection of the hair follicles with staphylococcus bacteria, usually after a minor skin injury. Infection spreads to other parts of the child's body by fingernails, frequently from staphylococcus in the nose.
Infection with pseudomonas bacteria following the use of contaminated hot tubs or spas. This is rare but increasing.
RISK FACTORSRecent illness such as a nose infection.
Eczema or dermatitis.
Crowded or unsanitary living conditions.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCE
Keep the child's skin clean.
Avoid hot, humid environments, which foster bacterial growth.
Your own observation of symptoms.
Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
Laboratory culture of the discharge from the pustule.
POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONSThe infection may enter the child's bloodstream and spread to other body parts.
Without treatment, an individual pustule heals in 7 days -- but as some heal, new ones appear. Without treatment, boils or deep skin infections may develop. Treatment will shorten the course of your child's infection. Healing should be complete in 2 weeks. Recurrence is common.
Urge your child not to scratch pustules. The germs that cause them can be transferred from under the fingernails to other parts of the body.
Use warm-water soaks to relieve the child's itching and hasten healing.
MEDICATIONIf there are only a few pustules on your child, use non-prescription antibiotics, such as bacitracin, mycitracin, or neomycin. Apply and gently massage a small amount into the affected areas 3 or 4 times a day. Use only the small amount needed to cover--larger quantities don't help.
If there are many pustules on your child, your doctor may prescribe injections or oral antibiotics, such as erythromycin or dicloxacillin, to fight infection.
See Medications section for information regarding medicines your doctor may prescribe.
Your child can resume normal activities as soon as symptoms improve.
DIET & FLUIDS
No special diet.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?Yes, but only after pustules have healed. This problem may be contagious to others, particularly young children.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
The pustules spread, despite treatment.
Your child's temperature rises to 101F (38.3C).
Your child's ankles swell.
Your child develops a boil or signs of spreading infection.
Symptoms of bacterial folliculitis recur after treatment.