Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

The treatments you receive for folliculitis depend on the type and severity of your condition, what self-care measures you've already tried and your preferences for treatment. Even if treatment helps, the infection may come back.


  • Creams or pills to control infection. For mild infections, your doctor may recommend the antibiotic cream mupirocin (Bactroban). Oral antibiotics aren't routinely used for folliculitis. But for a severe or recurrent infection, your doctor may prescribe them.
  • Creams, shampoos or pills to fight fungal infections. Antifungals are for infections caused by yeast rather than bacteria, such as pityrosporum folliculitis. Antibiotics aren't helpful in treating this type.
  • Creams or pills to reduce inflammation. If you have mild eosinophilic folliculitis, your doctor may suggest you try a steroid cream. If your condition is severe, he or she may prescribe oral corticosteroids. Such drugs can have serious side effects and should be used for as brief a time as possible.

    If you have HIV/AIDS, you may see improvement in your eosinophilic folliculitis symptoms after antiretroviral therapy.

Other interventions

  • Minor surgery. If you have a large boil or a carbuncle, your doctor may make a small incision in it to drain the pus. This may relieve pain, speed recovery and help lessen scarring. Your doctor may then cover the area with sterile gauze in case pus continues to drain.
  • Light therapy with a medicated cream. Also called photodynamic therapy, this technique has helped people with folliculitis that did not clear up with other treatments. In a study of seven people who each had one treatment of photodynamic therapy, six people showed significant improvement four weeks later. In another study of one man, the technique completely cleared his folliculitis. And he remained free of symptoms 15 months after the last treatment.
  • Laser hair removal. If other treatments fail, laser therapy may clear up the infection. This method is expensive and may require several treatments. It permanently reduces the density of the hair in the treated area. Other possible side effects include discolored skin, scarring and blistering.
Aug. 21, 2014