Folliculitis In Children: Symptoms, Causes, Remedies, And Treatment

Image: Shutterstock


Folliculitis is an infection of the hair follicles in the skin. The infected hair follicle generally looks like acne, and may cause itching. Folliculitis usually occurs due to bacterial infection, and might go away on its own in seven to ten days; if it does not, then it could turn into boils, which may need a course of antibiotics (1).

The condition is mostly found on the arms, legs, buttocks, back, and scalp. In this post, MomJunction tells you about the various causes for folliculitis in children, how to identify it, and also the available treatment options.

Symptoms Of Folliculitis In Children

Folliculitis infection looks like red bumps and could be mistaken for acne. These red bumps would resolve or gradually turn into pus-filled boils known as furuncles. When a group of hair follicles gets infected and forms large painful swellings with multiple pus-discharging boils known as carbuncles, it is an indication that the infection has spread to deeper layers and might even cause fever (1).

Some of the symptoms of folliculitis include (1):

  • Red pimples with a hair at the center
  • Pimples predominantly on the arms, legs, buttocks, and back
  • Gradual development of pus in the pimples
  • Fever and an upset stomach in some rare cases

What Does Folliculitis Look Like, And Is It Contagious?

Folliculitis is often mistaken for acne. Here are a few images to help you identify this condition.

Image: Shutterstock

Since folliculitis is caused due to microbial infections, it could spread through personal contact or sharing of towels, clothes, and other personal accessories. However, this is usually more common when the infection has turned into furuncles or carbuncles (2).

Causes Of Folliculitis In Children

Folliculitis is usually caused by the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus. However, the infection can also occur due to viruses, such as herpes, and fungi, such as yeast (3) (4).

Many microorganisms dwell on the surface of the human skin without causing any harm, but when the skin gets bruised or cut, these microorganisms may enter the skin and cause infections, such as folliculitis.

Children often play outdoors and get hurt, which could be one of the reasons for them to get folliculitis. One study found that 25% of high school athletes who participated in football and basketball developed furuncles (5). Children with compromised immunity may also be at a greater risk of the infection.

Here are some other ways your child could get folliculitis (4) (6).

  • Wearing tight-fitting clothes that might cause friction and damage the skin
  • Swimming in pools that are not treated with chlorine
  • Excessive scratching or skin injuries
  • Blockage of hair follicles due to certain skincare products
  • Plucking the hair, especially in children who have densely curly hair
  • Oily skin, which may cause blocked hair follicles

Diagnosis Of Folliculitis In Children

Physical examination is usually enough for a doctor to diagnose the condition. In cases where there is a discharge from a boil, the doctor may send the discharge for laboratory culture to determine the infective microorganism.

Treatment For Folliculitis In Children

In immunocompetent children, folliculitis tends to go away on its own in seven to ten days. But, if it turns into boils or carbuncles, then you might need to take your child to a doctor.

Here are the available treatment options for folliculitis in children (1).

  1. Your child’s doctor may prescribe topical antibiotics based on the severity of the infection.
  1. Topical antiseptics in the form of gels, soaps, or solutions might also reduce the infection.
  1. Oral antibiotics may be prescribed in severe cases of infection or when there is a fever.

Home Care For Folliculitis In Children

Home care may help in reducing the healing time and relieving the symptoms of folliculitis.

  1. Apply a warm compress on the sores for 20 minutes. It might help reduce the inflammation and soothe the itch. Repeat it three times a day.
  1. Gently wash the affected area with antibacterial soap and wipe it clean. Dress your child in loose, cotton clothes to avoid friction on the skin.
  1. Make sure you change your child’s clothes every day and wash them with a disinfectant.
  1. Discourage your child from scratching or squeezing the pimples, as it can spread the infection to other  parts of the body.

Natural Remedies For Folliculitis In Children

You may consider a few natural remedies to relieve the symptoms of folliculitis in children. Do note that there are inadequate scientific studies to prove the effectiveness of these remedies, especially among children.

  1. Tea tree oil: It is said to have antimicrobial properties that could help clear the red bumps and pus due to folliculitis. However, make sure you dilute it with other oils, such as coconutor almond oil, before applying on your child’s skin (7).
  1. Neem: This is a plant that is known for its antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. You can boil neem leaves in water and apply the water or make a paste of the leaves and apply it on the affected area. Repeat it thrice daily (8).
  1. Apple cider vinegar: Studies note that apple cider vinegar has antimicrobial effects on Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, which is responsible for folliculitis. Mix one part of vinegar in two parts of water, and dab the solution on the affected area. Leave it for ten minutes and rinse off (9).
  1. Aloe vera gel: As aloe vera is known for its anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties, it might help reduce the itching and inflammation due to folliculitis. Extract the gel from the aloe vera plant and apply it to the infected area. Leave it for ten minutes and rinse off with warm water. Do it once or twice a day until the inflammation subsides (10).
  1. Turmeric: Research has found turmeric to be effective against Staphylococcus aureus bacteria (11). Mix turmeric powder in water, and make it into a smooth paste. Apply it on the affected skin. Leave it for 20 minutes and rinse off. Repeat this two to three times daily.

If the folliculitis has progressed into a furuncle or carbuncle, pus or blood oozes from the boil/acne, or the child has developed fever, then consult a doctor before trying any home or natural remedies.

Can You Prevent Folliculitis In Children?

The following precautionary measures might help prevent folliculitis in children.

  1. Encourage children to wash their hands after playing outside to prevent the transfer of the microorganisms on the skin.
  1. Clean wounds with antiseptic lotion and apply bandages. Never keep the wounds open.
  1. Always clean and disinfect the bathtubs at your home.
  1. Make sure the water in the swimming pool is treated with chlorine before allowing your children into it.
  1. Keep your children away from adults who might have folliculitis.
  1. If your child has folliculitis, do not mix their towels, blankets, and clothes with others.
  1. Encourage teenagers never to share their shaving razor with others. Also, teach them how to keep the razor clean.

Although folliculitis is common, it can turn into severe skin infection if left untreated. So, always identify it in a nascent stage and take measures to treat it. If the infection does occur, it is seldom serious and subsides on its own. Adequate precaution through personal hygiene is usually all that is needed to prevent folliculitis in your child.


MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
1. Huang‐Shen Lin, et al.; Interventions for bacterial folliculitis and boils (furuncles and carbuncles); Cochrane Library
2. Dennis L. Stevens, et al.; Practice Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Skin and Soft-Tissue Infections; Clinical Infectious Diseases; Oxford Academy
3. Kai-lv Sun and Jian-min Chang; Special types of folliculitis which should be differentiated from acne; Dermato Endocrinology
4. Pityrosporum Folliculitis; American Osteopathic College of Dermatology
5. Brian B Adams; Which skin infections are transmitted between athletes?; Western Journal of Medicine
6. Saegeman, Veroniek MD, PhD; Van Meensel, Britt MD; Aeromonas Associated With Swimming Pool Folliculitis; The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal
7. Ané Orchard and Sandy van Vuuren; Commercial Essential Oils as Potential Antimicrobials to Treat Skin Diseases; Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
8. Jayakumar Jerobin, et al.; Antibacterial activity of neem nanoemulsion and its toxicity assessment on human lymphocytes in vitro; NCBI
9. Darshna Yagnik, Vlad Serafin, and Ajit J. Shah; Antimicrobial activity of apple cider vinegar against Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans; downregulating cytokine and microbial protein expression; NCBI
10. Amar Surjushe, Resham Vasani, and D G Saple; Aloe Vera: A Short Review; Indian Journal of Dermatology
11. Sin-Yeang Teow, et al.; Antibacterial Action of Curcumin against Staphylococcus aureus: A Brief Review;; Journal of Tropical Medicine

Recommended Articles

The following two tabs change content below.

Dr. Elna Gibson

(MBChB, MMed, Paeds)
Dr. Elna Gibson is a general pediatrician. She did her MBChB and specialization as a pediatrician in South Africa at the University of Pretoria. She obtained MMed Pediatrics (masters) with distinction in 1993. As a young specialist, Dr. Gibson spent some time in the Netherlands, and then settled in the Vaal Triangle where she has practiced for 25 years. She... more

Dr Bisny T. Joseph

Dr. Bisny T. Joseph is a Georgian Board-certified physician. She has completed her professional graduate degree as a medical doctor from Tbilisi State Medical University, Georgia. She has 3+ years of experience in various sectors of medical affairs as a physician, medical reviewer, medical writer, health coach, and Q&A expert. Her interest in digital medical education and patient education made... more