Folliculitis in Infants & Children: Reasons, Signs & Treatment

Folliculitis in Babies and Kids- Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Parents are usually extra sensitive and careful when it comes to their kids, especially babies. Any small discomfort to their little ones is enough to warrant an immediate visit to the doctor. Every ailment of the babies is critical for parents, and they may panic seeing their baby in even little pain. However, this panic can be avoided if parents know and understand the details of the illness or ailment, its symptoms, and preventive measures. One such infection is folliculitis, which can be controlled and treated with home remedies in its initial stages.

What Is Folliculitis?

Folliculitis, as the name suggests, is an inflammation or infection commonly occurring in the hair follicles. Acne-like red bumps or rashes characterize this infection at the base of the hair follicle, which may be accompanied by itching. The rashes or tiny pouches can have pus, and may even be mildly painful. This common infection usually occurs in the hair follicles of arms, legs, buttocks and thighs.

Folliculitis is usually caused by a bacterial infection, and in most cases, it is cured by itself in a few days (7 to 10 days). However, in some cases, the rashes can turn into boils, which require an antibiotic course as treatment.

What Causes Folliculitis in a Child?

Folliculitis is caused by an infection happening due to pathogenic microorganisms entering the skin, such as the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus, viruses, or fungi such as yeast, which dwell on the skin. These microorganisms are usually harmless; however, when there is a or bruise, they enter the skin and cause infections such as folliculitis.

A few causes of folliculitis in a child are:

  • Skin injuries like scratches, cuts, or bruises, resulting in infections
  • Skin damage due to friction caused by tight-fitting clothes or during sports
  • Swimming in unhygienic pools of water, or those that are not properly treated with chlorine
  • Blockage at the base of hair follicle due to dirt, oil, or skincare products
  • Plucking of hair
  • Weak immunity or resilience due to some disease
  • Prolonged use of antibiotics or steroids
  • Ingrown hair

What Are the Symptoms of Folliculitis in Children?

Folliculitis looks like red rashes, or acne-like bumps. These rashes or bumps develop into furuncles gradually, which are pus-filled boils. Sometimes, when many hair follicles get infected, they form carbuncles, which are large painful bumps or swellings with many pus-discharging boils. This is an indication of a deep-layer infection, and may cause a fever.

Some of the common symptoms of folliculitis in children are:

  • Red bumps around the base of the hair follicle
  • Red bumps looking like acne on scalp, face, arms, legs, back, buttocks, and thighs
  • The gradual development of pus-filled boils
  • Itching on the affected areas
  • Mild pain in the boils or rashes
  • Mild fever
  • Upset stomach


As folliculitis looks like rashes or acne, people can sometimes get confused and might take one for the other. There are many kinds of skin infections caused by different things that may have similar symptoms. So, an accurate diagnosis of folliculitis can be made by a doctor only. After a thorough physical examination of the skin and its condition, a doctor diagnoses the infection and prescribes the treatment. Usually, just a physical assessment is enough. However, in a few cases, where there is discharge from the boils, the doctor may ask for a laboratory culture test or examination of the discharge to determine the infective microorganism accurately.

Treatment of Folliculitis in Children

In children who have strong immunity, folliculitis tends to go away by itself in a period of seven to ten days. If the rashes or bumps turn into carbuncles or boils in some cases, then the parents need to consult a doctor for folliculitis infant treatment. Below are the treatment options the doctor may prescribe for the children with folliculitis:

  • Topical antibiotics – The doctor may prescribe topical antibiotics such as cream or ointments, depending on the severity of the folliculitis in babies.
  • Topical antiseptics – The doctor may prescribe topical antiseptics like gels, solution, or soaps to reduce the inflammation or infection.
  • Oral antibiotics – Oral antibiotics or medicines may be prescribed by the child’s doctor in severe infection cases or if the child has a fever.
  • Bleach bath – In a few cases, the doctor may prescribe a bleach bath for the child to prevent the bacterial folliculitis from reoccurring.

How Can You Help Your Child?

Parents are the main source of care and comfort for a child suffering from folliculitis. The doctor prescribes the treatment, but the parents are the ones who perform their home care, and can thus ensure a speedy recovery for their child. Some home care advice that can help in the speedy healing of folliculitis in children are:

  • You can apply a warm compress for 15 to 20 minutes on the body areas infected with sores. This may reduce the itch and inflammation, especially in cases of folliculitis on the child’s bottom. This can be repeated three times a day.
  • Bathe the child daily, and dress him in clean clothes.
  • Gently wash the affected area with antibacterial soap and warm water, and then wipe it clean to dry the area.
  • Dressing the child in soft, loose, cotton clothes. This will ensure there is no friction, and the child is comfortable.
  • Wash the child’s clothes with a disinfectant.
  • Discourage the child from squeezing the bumps or scratching them to avoid the spread of infection, especially in cases of eosinophilic pustular folliculitis of infancy.

Natural Remedies to Treat Folliculitis on Baby and Kids

Natural remedies may be considered, in order to relieve the folliculitis symptoms in children. However, do remember to take your child’s doctor’s advice before choosing a home remedy to try. Some natural remedies to treat folliculitis in babies and kids are:

1. Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is known for its antimicrobial properties that may help prevent bumps and pus caused by folliculitis. However, pure tea tree oil is strong for kids, so remember to dilute it with other natural oils such as almond or coconut oil before applying it to your child’s soft skin.

2. Neem

Neem leaves are also known for their antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. They can be boiled in water, and then the strained water, or a paste of boiled neem leaves, can be applied on the affected areas. Do remember to cool the paste or neem water!

3. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is known for its antimicrobial effect on the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, which is responsible for causing folliculitis. Apple cider vinegar, mixed with two parts of water, is applied to the affected area, left for 10 minutes, and then rinsed off.

4. Aloe Vera Gel

Aloe vera gel is known for its antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties to reduce the inflammation and itching caused due to folliculitis. Fresh aloe vera gel extracted from the aloe vera plant can be applied to infected areas. It should be left for 10 minutes, and then the area should be rinsed off with warm water.

5. Turmeric

Several researchers have found that turmeric is effective against the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. Apply a paste of turmeric with water on the affected area, leave it for 20 minutes, and then rinse off completely.

Ways to Prevent Folliculitis in Children

Parents often worry about their kid who is at risk of getting folliculitis easily if he plays outside in dust and mud, or gets hurt frequently. Parents can easily prevent folliculitis in their children by taking these precautions:

1. Ensuring a daily bath and clean clothes
2. Regular hand-washing, especially after play
3. Cleaning cuts and bruises immediately with antiseptic lotion, and applying bandages to cover them
4. Disinfecting and cleaning the bathtub regularly
5. Swimming in hygienic pools
6. Keeping the kids away from adults suffering from folliculitis
7. Using separate towels, combs, blankets, etc.
8. Avoiding tight clothes

When to See a Doctor

The child should be taken to a doctor if the folliculitis doesn’t heal itself in a few days, or is not subsisting after following self-care measures. Immediate medical consultation should be sought if the infection spreads to other body parts, or the rashes start oozing pus. When the bumps are itchy or painful, or the child has a large red area with multiple pus-discharging boils, it is time to visit the doctor.

Folliculitis is a common occurrence in kids, and it usually gets cured by itself in a few days with proper precautions. However, it can become severe if not treated properly. Identifying the symptoms at the nascent stage and taking proper treatment are important to ensure it doesn’t become severe.

Also Read: 

Baby Rash on Face
Scalp Problems in Kids
Natural Remedies for Cradle Cap in Babies

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Gauri Ratnam completed her Masters in English Literature from the University of Pune. She began her journey as a German translator soon after completing her graduation, but later moved on to pursue her passion for writing. Having written for both digital and print media in a varied range of industries, she has the ability to write relatable and well-researched content, benefical for anyone seeking advice or direction.