I'm writing this lens to discuss and explore the acne-like skin infection known as folliculitis. I'll cover the various types of folliculitis, the common and alternative treatments available, psychological factors to consider and my recent personal experience with this condition. I hope this will be of help and comfort to you if you too are suffering from a folliculitis infection. Just knowing that others are going through the same thing and that it's just a condition that can be sorted out will be of some consolation.
My Experience With Folliculitis
...how I became Spotty Muldoon overnight and discovered the joys of folliculitis skin infections - yay!
When I started getting spots on my face about 7 weeks ago, I figured I must have been overdoing it a bit and needed to detox. I immediately went on a water fast for a day, followed by two days on just raw apples. In the past, this would have been more than enough to clear up skin blemishes and I should have looked and felt really good. Only thing was, it didn't make a bit of difference! I was getting even more spots. What was going on? This shouldn't be happening. I was a 38-year-old 'health nut' of a man not a 14-year-old junkfood-eating boy -- I shouldn't be getting acne spots!
Well, like it or not, I was getting acne-like spots and they seemed to be multiplying over my face and neck. There's nothing like having a big zit on your nose to really make your day!
I upped my liquid intake -- consuming lots of water. I washed my face morning and night with Oxy face wash (it had always worked for me in the past). I was already eating lots of fresh, organic fruit and vegetables. Surely that would fix it?
No, the spots kept coming (red ones, whiteheads, crusty ones ... the complete pizza menu!).
I went to Google and started searching ... acne, adult acne, skin infections. Oh my gosh, there was a whole world of nasties out there. The worst is if you click on image search results and get hit by the absolute extreme cases. I was scared when I saw how bad some people get hit by skin infections. I looked at hives, scabies, impetigo, psoriasis, ecsema (how do you spell that?!), and a host of things that I have now deliberately forgotten. Somewhere in the mix I also read about folliculitis. But to be honest I didn't know what I had. Follicultis sounded like the most likely -- but there were many different types of folliculitis.
I get medical folliculitis treatment
Taking my folliculitis face to the Doctor!
I really hate medical intervention and avoid medicines and pharmaceutical products as much as I can. So I started looking for natural cures to get rid of it and at the very least control it. These worked to some extent but it felt like a real battle that has just stretched on week after week. I did go to the Doctors after about 3 weeks of this. She told me it was folliculitis and prescribed antibiotics. I got my prescription and went home. For the next two days I was elated, the spots were clearing. Yay!
...But then they came back. Before the course of antiobiotics had finished. Oh-my-god! No-ooooooo-oooooooo!
Well, I didn't know what to do then. I had read of certain types of hardcore acne that resulted from taking too much antibiotics. And that there were types of folliculitis that didn't respond to antibiotics. It was all so confusing. So I just kept going, getting different types of supplement, trying different cleansing regimes, natural cures, supplements and so on.
Finally, just this last weekend, I looked a real mess. In trying to treat and fight the spots, my skin had dried up and it started sloughing off my chin and upper lip. I felt hideous. :-) My wife and son were completely non-judgemental and supportive as they had been all along. But I just felt like hiding in a dark cupboard somewhere. So I finally booked another doctor's appointment and just this morning went back to see her.
Turns out the pharmacy had given me the wrong type of antibiotic (a general kind called Amoxicillin instead of one for skin called Flucloxacillin). She gave me another course of antibiotics (making sure it was the Flucloxacillin kind this time) and a fungal cream in case it is fungal like folliculitis barbae. She also prescribed an anti-fungal medication (miconazole nitrate) but we decided I would go on that following the antiobiotics -- just in case the side affects of taking both medicines simultaneously were too much. If the antibiotics and cream don't work completely, I will go and get the anti-fungal meds too.
Symptoms, treatments and cures for the various types of folliculitis
Folliculitis can be a very distressing skin infection particularly when it attacks your face, causing spots, whitehead papules and crusting zits.
Types of Folliculitis
There are two forms of folliculitis: superficial and deep/recurring folliculitis.
Superficial folliculitis sometimes clears by itself within a few days and includes the following variants of folliculitis:
* Pseudomonas folliculitis (hot tub folliculitis)
* Barber's itch
* Tinea barbae
* Pseudofolliculitis barbae
* Pityrosporum folliculitis
* Herpetic folliculitis
Deep or recurring folliculitis includes the following:
* Gram-negative folliculitis
* Boils and carbuncles
* Eosinophilic folliculitis
To read a concise description of the symptoms of each of these, see:
Medical treatments for folliculitis
What your Doctor or Dermatologist will likely give you to cure folliculitis
Medical treatments for folliculitis seem to focus on antibiotics and antifungals.
Antibiotics might be topical (creams or lotions you put on your skin like Neosporin) or oral (pills you swallow). I've been prescribed a course of 500mg Flucloxacillin capsules to be taken 4 times a day for a week.
Antifungals again can be topical (like the miconazole nitrate cream I was prescribed today) or oral.
Your doctor may also prescribe an anti-pruritic medication to help you control itching if that is a problem. I find my skin does get itchy, around the jawline, especially at night in bed.
The Mayo Clinic website summarizes treatments for the different types of folliculitis here:
Natural and alternative treatments for folliculitis
Searching for natural folliculitis cures?
Natural treatments are always my first choice. Sometimes that is a good thing and sometimes it just prolongs my suffering! There are times when hardcore proven science will have to rescue you from the fuzzy-thinking, anecdotal world of alternative health!
That said, here is what I have been using to cope with folliculitis.
During the times when I thought I might just have acne, I tried a host of natural acne remedies which included:
* 3 day apple diet cure for acne. Result: no significant change... and hunger!
* Manuka honey applied topically on my face (for 30 mins and also overnight). Result: very limited improvement. Better off swallowing it.
* Salt and baking soda face scrub as recommended in an online acne cure book. Result: no obvious improvement. Ouch!
* Lemon juice on spots. Result: slight sting with no obvious improvement.
* Tea tree oil and tea tree moisturiser. Result: Good. Seemed to control and dry-up spots. Kept them in check. Stings though and can dry out skin too much.
* Vitamin B5. I read this was good for acne. Result: psychological comfort that I was taking something that would help. No obvious improvement.
* Propolis capsules. Read great things about propolis' antiobiotic-like affects. Result: Don't know.
* Vitamin E 1000 iu. Result: seemed to exacerbate whitehead spots.
* Vitamin C 500mg chew tablets. Result: I have great confidence in Vit C support for skin, but don't think chew tabs are that great because of sugar content.
* Vitamin An oil drops. Result: Oil based Vit A seemed to trigger whitehead spots.
More natural folliculitis cures I tried
Experimenting on my folliculitis filled face!
Continuing on the list of my experiments with natural cures for folliculitis...
* Raw garlic in meals. Result: I think this helps attack whatever is causing my folliculitis. I just felt good for having it in salads. Libido picked up too (which is a bonus!). Anyone fancy a romp with a spotty, garlic-breathed 'horndawg'?
* Apple Cider Vinegar: 2 tablespoons of this in a glass of water first thing in AM. Result: hair looks much shinier, unaffected skin looks good.
* Baking Soda: eighth of a teaspoon mixed in with Apple Cider Vinegar drink. Supposed to even out the pH. Don't understand the 'science' behind it, but I feel good on it.
* Hydrogen Peroxide 3% solution. Just got this to apply topically to whiteheads. Result: Too soon to say, but maybe helps shrink whiteheads faster.
* Visualizing healthy clear skin. Result: I would say this is one of the single most important aids to recovery. Seeing yourself where you want to be. Check out Psycho-cybernetics (the Matt Furey updates).
* Affirmations. I used Louse Hay's book 'You Can Heal Your Life' for insights into psychological factors that might cause skin infections. Result: Insightful, comforting.
* Turmeric powder (1 teaspoon mixed with a little water and swallowed 3 or 4 times a day). Result: I believe this helps.
* Blackstrap Molasses (1 teaspoon mixed in with warm water and the turmeric mentioned above). Result: I believe this helps too.
Best source of information I found on natural cures for skin disorders is http://www.earthclinic.com They have a page dealing specifically with boils and staph and MRSA infections. Reading this was a little scary ...and enlightening.
Here in the UK, national newspapers like the the Daily Mail indulge in periodic rants at the state of British NHS hospitals where so-called superbugs like MRSA are said to be rife because of poor hygience conditions. Reading those stories has always made me think that MRSA is just in hospitals but of course it isn't! And reading the personal stories on earthclinic.com shows how many people are getting MRSA infections and being misdiagnosed.
Anyway take a look and hold your nerve. There are some very good superhealth recommendations on there. And one or two scary sounding cures. Use discernment.
Here's where you can comment on this folliculitis lens, relate your story or give a tip for an effective folliculitis cure that you have used....