The Skin Problem You May Not Be Aware Of
In my practice, I treat nearly as many adults for acne as I do teenagers. I know it doesn't seem fair, but people of all ages struggle to achieve clear, healthy skin. In recent years, I've consulted with many patients who thought they suffered from adult acne when the real culprit was folliculitis (a different condition often mistaken for pimples). The good news is that it may not be as hard as you think to cure this common problem and enjoy clear skin once again.
What Is Going On With My Skin?
Though often misunderstood, folliculitis is simply the result of infected hair follicles. It resembles a red, itchy pimple with a hair in the center, and it may contain white pus. Inflammation of the infected area results in itchy, sensitive skin. It is most common on the face and scalp, or on areas which experience excessive friction from clothing, like the inner thighs.
Bacteria are usually the cause of folliculitis but strains of yeast can also infect hair follicles. How does this happen? When skin is already damaged from shaving or chafing, it is easier for the bacteria to take hold. If pores are clogged with sweat, oil or makeup, they are also more susceptible to infection.
You can treat folliculitis naturally by applying warm, clean compresses soaked in a white vinegar solution several times a day. This will ease the itch and help skin heal more quickly. If you have a persistent problem, your doctor may need to advise you on your unique condition.
Your Healthy Answers to Better Skin!
The key to dealing with folliculitis is prevention. Many of my male patients can heal their folliculitis just by altering their shaving routines! Here are the best ways to keep your skin clear and free of irritation:
1) Shave right - Always use a natural shaving aid to protect your skin from inflammation and irritation. If you get folliculitis, stop shaving until it heals or use hair removal cream up to twice a week.
2) Watch out for hot tubs - Improperly chlorinated water may contain bacteria that can infect hair follicles. Shower immediately after soaking in a hot tub unless you know it has been well-maintained.
3) Switch your soap - Use antibacterial soap on problem areas. If you do have an outbreak, use a clean towel every time you wash so you don't spread the infection.
4) Clean up after work - If your job puts you in contact with skin irritants like motor oil, tar, cocoa butter, creosote or makeup, wash it off thoroughly as soon as possible.
5) Don't take a breather after your workout - Instead, hit the showers to wash off sweat that may clog hair follicles.
6) Don't scratch yourself - Itching an irritated area can trap bacteria under your fingernails and cause an infection to spread.
7) Loosen up - Wear loose, breathable clothing to minimize friction and chafing. Fabrics that wick sweat away from the body are also good at keeping skin dry and healthy.
As you can see, there are many simple ways you can avoid the irritating problem of folliculitis. Remember to be gentle with your skin, and it will stay soft and healthy from head to toe.
Jay Brachfeld, M.D.
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