Antibiotics for Folliculitis

| Modified on Mar 18, 2024

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Posted by Steve (Ms.) on 02/15/2016

My dermatologist diagnosed me with bacterial hair folliculitis on my head. He prescribed an antibiotic called "Bactrim" 160 mg. I took it for 10 days 2xdaily and at the end of the 10 days my folliculitis was cleared up. My Dr. suggested I take it for another 10 days which I did with 7 days in between. I have been clear for 2 months now with no further problems other than some occasional itching. All of the sores are gone. BTW he did state that it is a problem that could come back as there is no permanent cure.

Hope this helps others as it is an insidious disease.

Posted by Bats (Perth, Wa) on 10/16/2012

It's clear reading the posts here that there are many causes as well as many potential rememdies to the problem. Some work for some people whilst not for others. The only time in 12 years that my folliculitis has gone away has been as a side effect of taking antibiotics for sinus or chest infections (1 course in every 1 or 2 years). The problem has gone for up to 4 months at a time but has always returned. I have only ever had antibiotics specifically for this problem on one occasion. A 1 month course. It took the problem away after a week but it returned after 3 weeks, I. E. before I'd even finished taking the anitbiotics.

I have recently taken a stronger antibiotic for a bad sinus infection that I had had for 4 weeks. Sure enough the folliculitis has gone away and I've been free of it for a month now. It remains to be seen how long it will be gone for this time.

One thing is for sure, the fact that it goes when I take antibiotics proves that my problem is related to a bacteria not a fungus or diet etc. That will not be the case for everyone.

I just have to find a permanent cure now, although I have no doubt that I will have to take antibiotics again for a sinus or chest infection, I have no deisre to take them for folliculitis.

Posted by Bats (Perth, Wa) on 10/13/2012

I have had what I believe is a form of scalp follicultis for about 12 years. The only thing that I can relate it to was starting at a gym and therefore sweating more than normal for an hour 3 or 4 times a week. I still gym about 6 times a week and also sometimes work outdoors in the heat of summer, so sweat ALOT!

Having had acne is my teens/twenties, I assumed it was just a side effect of a greasey skin/hair. I noticed that the only time it ever cleared up was when I went on a course of antibiotics. I am susceptible to sinusitis and bronchitis in the winter. Some years I can get away with no colds, but if I catch a cold and it hasn't gone of its own accord in 3 weeks, antibiotics are the ONLY thing to clear it. The infection could last for months otherwise. And the side-effect of taking the antibiotics was that the folliculitis went away.... usually for about 4 months.

More recently I was put on antibiotics after a tooth extraction. I hadn't had antibiotics for well over a year. The folliculitis went away but only for two weeks. I mentioned this to my doctor who put me on a course for a month - this time specifically for the spots. Spots went away after a week but came back before I'd finished the course. This had never happened before. I have been referred to a dermatologist now and am due to see him later this month.

I recently had a case of sinusitis which had the usual effect of laying me low for 4 weeks. Got tired really quickly. 1st batch of antibiotics started to work, then the sinus infection came back before I finished them, so I was put on a combination of amoxycillin & potassium clavulanate. The 2nd ingredient is meant to help antibiotics overcome resistant bacterial strains. It worked on both the sinus infection AND the folliculitis and I find myself free of scalp zits once again. It remains to be seen how long that lasts but I think I'm going to put the dermatologist visit on hold until the problem returns.... which I'm guessing it will.

Other remedies I have tried.... Medicated shampoo, T Gel.. Tea tree shampoo... Keeping pillow cases and towels as clean as possible. Cutting out wheat, alcohol, dairy produce from my diet. None of these had the slightest effect.

I'm sure my immune system is below par. I had glandular fever when I was 20 and, ever since, some colds can easily turn into a sinus or chest infection and lay me low with flu type symptoms for weeks/months when most people would recover without any real problems.

I'm loathe to take any antibiotic long term, even though it is the only thing to work... Albeit the problem has, so far, always returned. It is BLISS when it goes away!!

I'll try a few of the remedies suggested here. Turmeric? Well I eat curry regularly so get alot of this already. Not sure I want to smell of vinegar all day and, being on the scalp, creams/ointments are not easy to apply.

And I also get quite deep pernicious spots on the face - the cheek area specifically. These spots take months to clear and are much deeper in the skin than the scalp spots. Worst of all, they often leave a pock mark scar. These also go when I take antibiotics. They are also more prevalent in the winter. As with acne, UV does help to keep them at bay. When a teenager, I loved sunbathing because UV ALWAYS killed the acne. It was the only time it went away! I'll probably get skin cancer but as any acne infested teenager will tell you, it'd have been worth it!

Replied by D M
(Orlando, Fl)

If your folliculitis responds to antibiotics, it is probably caused by one or more types of bacteria. Try applying a mixture of aloe vera, turmeric, charcoal (studies show definite gradual improvement when charcoal is used on skin ulcers caused by staph), and if itch is present, powdered cloves. Charcoal adsorbs bacteria, but stains fabric, so you may wish to apply the mixture at night and protect your sheets with a towel that you do not mind staining. The charcoal and herbs will not be effective if applied dry; apply in a moist application like aloe vera, a wet poultice, or water. A squirt (i.e. , from a spray bottle) of pure water can keep your application moist and effective for a longer time. Eat a diet low in sugar, with plenty of fruits and vegetables (including onions/garlic and raw produce). Get lots of water and rest. Your hygiene regimen sounds perfect. Best wishes! :)


I have had recurrent folliculitis for over 10 years. I was an over user of antibiotics for years and didn't counter act the antibiotics I took with a pro-biotic, huge mistake!

I am eating better, however, on bad eating day or 2 - (when I eat candida growing foods, I pay for it), this time so bad that I am forced to get back on an antibiotic to clear it up again... sigh), but this time I am taking a STRONG, HIGH quality pro-biotic along with Garlic Extract pills, 4 drops of Oregano Oil (2 x day under tongue - push tongue down for 30 seconds and swallow), Oregano pills 2 x day, and I am increasing my water in take to 4 or 5 x 18 oz a day.... this is key to flush the system.

My main areas were on my scalp, chest and around my beard. lastly, I am using Coconut Oil to help fade/eliminate the scarring.

I know it seems like a lot, but 1 week into things, I am better, and off the antibiotics - hoping that they folliculitis will stay away by keeping my candida until control by eating the right foods and taking a strong pro-biotic.

Replied by Bats
(Perth, Wa)

Cured - after 12 years I've actually found something that works. After referral to a skin specialist, his conclusion was that is was definitely folliculitis, BUT that there was NO KNOWN cure for it. It was probably caused by a bacteria, given that there was some response to antibiotics and that I could have a test to find out which one. I declined this, as knowing what it was wouldn't actually help any.

He prescribed some anti acne medication, but I never used the prescription, as it was over $100. He also suggested I try Selsun Gold shampoo. As it's actually an anti dandruff shampoo (I don't have dandruff) I guess that there is an anti-bacterial componenet that also kills the bacteria that causes my problem.

I started using Selsun once every 2-4 days using other shampoos in between (I shampoo at least once a day, due to strenuous outdoor work & gym visits). There was a marked improvement.

I now use it pretty much daily and the problem has gone completely. It remains to be seen if this is a long-term cure.

Posted by Angie (S, Indiana) on 07/31/2011

I am prone to folliculitis. Over the past 6 years I have had it twice. In both instances I felt the bumps on my scalp, had flu like sympoms and ran a fever. I was put on antibiotics and was better in a week. This past May I was again diagnosed with folliculitis. I thought it was weird that I was getting folliculitis again because I had just gotten over pneumonia and an ear infection and had been on two rounds of antibiotics.

My doctor put me on more antibiotics and I got worse. He switched me to Kflex and I took four rounds of that and got worse. I switched doctors and the new Dr. Put me on Cipra. After 10 days on Cipra, I started developing a rash on my chest, arms and legs. My face was flushed and I developed sores in my mouth. I found out I am allergic to sulfides so I decided to see a dermatologist. Before I saw him they took a culture of the blisters and tested them against different antibiotics. I took that report to the dermatologist and based on the report he put me on augmentin. I got a lot worse on augmentin.

I decided to research and I found this site. I tried the Apple Cider Vinegar and it made it worse. Tea tree oil helped and turmeric helped, but it was still spreading rapidly. Swimming made it worse. Sweating made it worse. I could feel it move and spread. It hurt and burned. I quit going to the gym.

Then I read a comment on this site about developing folliculits while on antibiotics and how it caused not a bacterial based infection, but a yeast based infection. I gave this info to my dermatologist and he took me off anitibiotics and put me on a 10 day oral antifungal medication and for the first time in 11 weeks my scalp is blister free. It is all healing up and drying up. I can't thank this site enough. I am going to continue to add turmeric to my daily vitamins because I believe that it will help prevent it from coming back. I would say that you might check into yeast even if you have had a culture taken. They took a culture of my blisters and it showed a high concentration of bacteria and the report didn't say anything about yeast, but the bacteria wasn't the problem. Good Luck!

Replied by Andrew
(Socal, Usa)

People NEED to get their antibacterials and antifungals straight, asap. Because antibiotics (vs bacteria) will COUNTERACT antifungals (vs fungi, vs yeasts), almost always, by clearing out the non-harmful bacteria that inhabit your skin ("skin flora") and letting yeasts overgrow in the newly vacant spot. And antifungals KILL antibiotic molds like the penicillin class, rendering them useless

general rules for id:

* "-azole" name: antifungals (fluconazole and itraconazole pills, ketoconazole 1st gen pill now topical shampoo Nizoral, clotrimazole athketes foot spray, miconazole vaginal yeast infection applicators)

* also: Nystatin (weak "maintenance" pill), Terbinafine (strong, but massive sidefx), Natamycin (food preservative mold inhibitor / gut yeast pill in Japan and Europe), Amphocetrin B (deadly dangerous! )

* "-vir" are antivirals - mostly HIV meds, herpes treatments, etc, and unknown to non-sufferers woth possible exception of controversial flu virus pill, brand name Tamiflu

* all others for "infections" are anti"biotic"s (actually, antibacterials), mpst widely known to anyone who has ever had sinus or strep problems, surgery, dental work, bronchitis, pneumonia, STIs, etc etc - most commonly recognized class of meds today, can hardly get treated for anything without these getting tried by doc "just in case" (reckless! ) - typical ones in USA are Ciprofloxacin (Cipro), Augmentin, Amoxicillin, etc.

* Bactrim (sulfamethoxazole) - DOUBLE EXCEPTION - is a non-mold-based antibacterial of a class called sulfa drugs. despite being an azole, it is against bacteria NOT fungi/yeasts

For ppl woth folliculitis starting at scalp and moving down (undiagnosed = "whoa why is there DANDRUFF on my eyebrow/beard/chest), fungal causes should be the PRIME suspect unless proven otherwise....bacteria suspicions are GP/derm's unprofessionalism, "looks like acne lets treat it as such"

To test for possible fungal/yeast infections: buy athletes foot creme clotrimazole or miconazole from monistat, dab on visible spot - compare effect to untreated area nearby.

ALCOHOL does NOT disinfect yeasts and fungi reliably, probably also why draining boils according to standard disinfection logic causes widespread reinfection.

Otc antifungals: athletes foot creme/spray, vaginal yeast cremes (caution! Anecdotal evidence of accelerated hair growth - may be undesirable on scalp face or body if you shave there, already a chore with folliculitis), jock itch and ringworm stuff (btw, avoid gyms, pools, lockers like the plague - for you, they ARE), pyrithione zinc (head and shoulders shampoo, btw see name for hint), sulfur (mexican or veterinary sulfur soap, veterinary "cureall" leavein conditioners like NuStock, MTG; btw, MTG also has zinc and is widely used to cure "cysts" under hairline on all mammals, sound familiar yet?)

OTC antibacterials w/ antiyeast, antifungal action: iodine (tincture & povidone), tea tree oil - proven; benzyl peroxide & salycilic acid, likely, too

Replied by Julia
(Surrey, Uk)

Yes, antibiotics kill the good bacteria in your gut and it desperately needs help to rebalance again, with probiotics, fermented foods etc, otherwise the immune system becomes innefective against these skin issues.

All the doctors I have seen, and also the dermatologist they finally referred me to, basically did not believe me about the infection moving. I found if I applied helpful remedies then it would come out nearby, fight back by moving. Also if a larger lump that looked like a mole was rubbed to break it down little by little, infection would spread from it. Only my pathologist/haematologist who is helping with my immune system is helpful. All the others treat my like I am an idiot, basically tell my that what I tell them is impossible and prescribe things that make it worse, then wonder why I don't believe them when they try to tell me they are harmless things. My skin used to be perfect before this, then the infection developed in many different types of manifestations, from hard mole like things to pimply things to blotches varying from red to brown slightly raised ones, to white flat areas.

I have always had a defective immune system apparently (neutropenia) and that seems to be why I have succumbed to this, but now I am having injections to boost it, and that seems to be starting to make a difference, though early days yet. I used to have many bronchial infections as a kid but as I grew up and learnt healing, I was able to keep myself clear. However, now that I am post menopausal I have been having difficulties again, so my specialist and I decided it is time to boost the immune system through weekly injections.

The immune system tends to struggle more as you age due to levels of various other things declining in the body, and although I would prefer to stay with natural products only, it seems unfair of me to go on expecting my body to cope as it has done for quite a while now trying to fight off skin issues. I want to regain my strength and vitality, which although I have been eating really really healthily (I'm a nutritional therapist), still flags too much to be able to cope well with all the work I do.

Cutting down on sugar is really important as these kind of infections do feed on it.