Essential Oils for Folliculitis: Naturally Fight Irritation
From time to time, we all get minor skin irritations and rashes that give us red, bumpy skin. You may not know that sometimes, these are the result of a minor infection in your hair follicles and that you can treat this infection and get rid of those annoying and occasionally painful bumps by using essential oils.
Folliculitis is the medical term for an infection in the hair follicle site. Because our bodies are literally covered in hair follicles (over five million!), you can get this skin disorder just about anywhere on your body, but it is most common on areas that receive irritation through friction. Some familiar names for this disease include hot tub rash, razor burn, or barber’s rash.
Most people with folliculitis experience itchy skin, sore patches, and bumps that may be filled with pus. When this condition comes with infection, it is usually caused by a fungus or bacteria. If you have an acute version of this disease that is mild, it will likely clear on its own, but more severe and chronic cases require treatment to prevent secondary infection or recurrent infection.
The most common types of this skin disorder include:
- Bacterial folliculitis resulting in itchy, white pus-filled bumps, usually caused by a form of staph bacteria.
- Hot tub folliculitis, which creates red, round bumps that are extremely itchy between 24 and 48 hours after exposure to the Pseudomonas bacteria commonly found in unproperly chlorinated hot tubs and heated pools.
- Razor bumps, which are caused by ingrown hairs on the face, neck, or legs.
- Pityrosporum folliculitis, which is caused by a yeast infection and usually is seen on the back, chest, neck, shoulders, and upper arms.
Using Essential Oils to Treat Folliculitis
Many essential oils have antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties that make them excellent choices for treating skin infections such as folliculitis. Treating your skin with natural, plant-derived essential oils also helps to restore your skin’s moisture, allowing it to heal faster and regenerate damaged skin cells. Essential oils are also useful for reducing inflammation, lowering pain, and stimulating the immune system.
Tea Tree Oil for Folliculitis
Tea tree oil tops the list of effective treatments for this skin disease, because of its strong capacity to fight both bacteria and fungi that can cause infection. Tea tree oil is also exceptionally effective at helping to treat chronic forms of folliculitis because it can combat the types of bacteria, especially staph, that are commonly found on the skin. Should always dilute tea tree oil with a carrier oil before applying it to your skin. You can even add tea tree oil to your regular shampoo to help treat folliculitis of the scalp.
Geranium and Grapefruit Seed
Geranium and grapefruit seed essential oils also make for excellent treatments for this common skin ailment. When they are used together, they supply excellent protection against staph, MRSA, and other bacteria common in skin infections. You can also mix geranium and tea tree essential oils for another powerful treatment for folliculitis.
Other effective essential oils for use in treating folliculitis include thyme, lavender, and bergamot. These all provide protection against infection as well as are known to reduce inflammation, which can help with the appearance and severity of the bumps on your skin.
To use, you can apply several drops of your favorite essential oil to a bowl of water, soak a clean compress in the water, then apply the compress to the affected area. You can also dilute your essential oil with a carrier, such as neem oil, and apply directly to the affected area.
Hammer, K. A., et al. (1996). Susceptibility of transient and commensal skin flora to the essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree oil). American Journal of Infection Control. 24(3): 186 – 189.