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Folliculitis treatments?

Over the winter my lower legs were covered in cellulitis (skin infection, not to be confused with cellulite!) and it took two rounds of oral antibiotics to get rid of it. Months later, following a cut on my foot, the same area is now covered in folliculitis. Argh!! My doctor wants to put me back on oral antibiotics, but I reeeaaally want to fight this without throwing my stomach and immunity back into the blender. So far I've been consuming extra Vit C, vit D3, Turmeric, and apple cider vinegar. Externally I've been attacking this with Bactroban (prescription antibiotic cream), tea tree oil, aloe vera, and epsom salt baths. All this is in addition to leading a fairly active and healthy lifestyle, which only makes the condition that much more frustrating and embarrassing.

So anyway the treatments seem to be helping the wounds heal quickly, but all my efforts are destroyed by the ITCHING! No matter what I do, such as taking benadryl at night, I scratch my skin off in my sleep! Any suggestions or personal experiences to share?

Unfortunately I don't know exactly what is causing this. The doctor suspects staph, but when a culture was taken nothing showed up.


( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 18th, 2010 10:25 pm (UTC)
UGH I feel your pain. I have chronic folliculitus all over. It looks like acne all over my body. It sucks. I hope you get some ideas because nothing I've tried works. I've tried tea tree oil (diluted, straight, doesn't matter it only marginally helps), aloe vera (just makes it heal quicker once it's gone but doesn't make it go away), epsom salt baths, different acne washes, and tons of other things and NOTHING works well. and being active does make mine worse as well. Sweating is the bane of my existence because that makes it bloom.

Mine doesn't itch per se, but its very painful and stays that way for days. I'd go to the doctor again save for 1) no money, and 2) internal meds, fuck with my system horribly. Hormones make mine worse, so right before my period, I have a wonderful bloom of folliculitis (makes me strongly suspect that I have folliculitus combined with cystic hormonal acne...) When I was diagnosed with folliculitis the doc prescribed me bactroban as well, but it didn't work all that well since mine was chronic (hard to smear the stuff ALL OVER every day... expensive too) and it wasn't a good preventative in any case.

What does help some with mine is to wash with burts bees acne washes (it has tea tree oil) and then liberally smear on neosporin. The tea tree helps it go away faster and the neosporin helps it heal really quickly (three days vs a week and a half) and not scar as badly. Good luck with yours, wish I had some advise for the itching but I've been stumped for years on how to deal with folliculitus and have about given up.
Jul. 19th, 2010 01:12 am (UTC)
Man that sucks :( Hopefully a few suggestions will pop up on here that'll help you out too then.

I'm almost out of bactroban and am debating whether to switch to neosporin or stick with straight tea tree oil. I doubt either are good for you in such large amounts, but at least it has stopped the infection from spreading. My mom had a similar chronic problem that vanished when she switched to using glycerin soap. It hasn't helped my problem, but it's something else to try if you haven't used it yet.

On a good note, the rest of my skin is very happy with all the extra attention, lol.
Jul. 19th, 2010 05:20 am (UTC)
"neosporin or stick with straight tea tree oil"

It's not an "or" it's an "and". i use a wash with tea tree in it when I bathe and then in morning and evening I put neosporin on it- the tea tree to deal with the folliculitus (fungal or bacterial [staph]) and the neosporin to make it heal quicker.

Glycerin soap doesn't do squat for me. But scrubbing my skin helps clean the wounds I get better for when I use tea tree wash. I use felted soap I make myself for this and my skin loves it. (http://www.mielkesfarm.com/felt_soap.htm)
Jul. 18th, 2010 10:25 pm (UTC)
Wear mittens to bed. Have you talked to your doc about the wisdom or otherwise of topical anti-itch creams? If it's not allergies, taking oral Benadryl at night isn't going to help at all. Benadryl is an antihistamine, not an anti-itch agent.

Have your doc do a second culture. He's probably culturing for staph aureus, but maybe he should be looking for a fungal infection instead? Have you ruled out allergies as a trigger?
Jul. 19th, 2010 12:19 am (UTC)
I've already chopped off my nails, and even when I've bandaged up my legs I can easily remove the wrappings in my sleep. My doctor told me NOT to put anything on it for itching because of the open sours. The pharmacist however recommended trying Caladryl, but it doesn't work for very long. A fan blowing cool air on my legs seems to help the most right now.

The rash doesn't seem to react to anything (besides heat) so it's hard to tell if it's allergies or not. In the past when I've had athletes foot or ringworm Tea Tree Oil would clear it right up, but it's not curing my folliculitis. I haven't ruled out fungal infections though since I've had them before. I'm reluctant to go back to the doctor again and again, but if I do end up going I will be sure to ask for another culture.

Huh, I thought antihistamine was anti-itch. Oops, guess I'll stop taking it and see if I feel better or worst without it! I hate taking it anyway, but I'm desperate for a solid nights sleep :(

Thanks for the tips.
Jul. 19th, 2010 12:23 am (UTC)
Antihistamine is anti-itch for histamine (allergic) reactions. If it's not a histamine reaction, an antihistamine won't help. You'd want something with a little bit of lidocaine in it, like Lanacaine, which will numb the skin. Maybe ask your doc if there's a safe lidocaine preparation that will numb them so you don't do them further damage in your sleep.

Chopping off your nails just makes more sharp edges--file them completely smooth after you cut them. Do try the mittens. If you take them off in your sleep, have someone (or you yourself) bandage-tape them to your wrists. Sleep on your back with your arms over your head. (Surprisingly possible for short periods of time--this is what I did when I got wrist tats a few months ago to stop them sticking to my sheets.)
Jul. 19th, 2010 12:36 am (UTC)
Not a natural thing, but I have a friend who takes Cetirizine HCl for her itching. She has allergies that if she doesn't take it, her skin would be in ribbons from the itching. It's fairly inexpensive and it's a once/day thing.

In massage school we were taught that using another stimulus will sometimes help (i.e. using heat/cold for pain, etc.). You could try putting on a warming/cooling lotion to override the itch sensation.
Jul. 19th, 2010 12:38 am (UTC)
Again, only works if the itching is allergic in nature. (I'm on cetirizine for allergies too. I love it.) Cetirizine is another antihistamine, and antihistamines only work if the itch is a histamine reaction.
Jul. 19th, 2010 12:52 am (UTC)
I will give the mittens a shot. At least that way maybe I will have time to fully wake up and stop myself before causing any damage.
Jul. 19th, 2010 12:58 am (UTC)
The bigger and more unwieldy, the better--what you want is to make your hands so huge that you can't effectively get an angle on the wounds. :)

If it gets really bad, buy a pair of cheap strap-and-buckle bondage wrist cuffs (not handcuffs) and fasten a pair of oven mitts on your hands. I guarantee there's no way you'll be able to effectively scratch your legs that way. Although getting up in the middle of the night to pee might be problematic. :D
Jul. 19th, 2010 12:59 am (UTC)
Also, I seriously can't believe I just wrote that comment. :)
Jul. 19th, 2010 01:28 am (UTC)
LOL!!! I sleep alone so I wouldn't want to make things too difficult... but now I can't stop laughing at the mental image of my roommates walking in and seeing me tied up, mittens and all, to the bed posts screaming for help :P

It doesn't help that they all have cameras and are into bondage!
Jul. 19th, 2010 03:53 pm (UTC)

I wish to state for the record that I am in no way paid by your roommates to suggest such things. Specifically, no one paid me a twenty. *wink*
Jul. 19th, 2010 06:13 pm (UTC)
*locks door* @_@
Jul. 18th, 2010 10:26 pm (UTC)
My suggestion would be to cut your nails short enough you *can't* scratch your skin off in your sleep.

What we do for my Boyfriend's random follicle infections is remove the hair in question in the follicle. It then lets the follicle drain and lets the infection out.
Jul. 19th, 2010 06:39 pm (UTC)
Lately I've been popping new blisters as they form as it does seem to help it heal faster and stops the itching. Unfortunately this is my entire lower legs so removing every single hair by hand would be torture! But if the skin is also inflamed then wouldn't that block the new hair from growing properly and cause an ingrown hair?
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 19th, 2010 06:42 pm (UTC)
I'd be hesitant to try it because I know a few people who did the elimination diet, followed by getting actual allergy testing done, and their guesses were way off. Might be worth it for the "detox" effect though.
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 19th, 2010 06:55 pm (UTC)
This is my first time battling folliculitis so I'm really hoping this is just a random infection and not a new chronic condition! Most moisturizers irritate my skin so I usually just stick with pure aloe vera and don't bother shaving most of the year. Out of curiosity do you have any suggestions on good-quality moisturizers?
Jul. 19th, 2010 11:18 am (UTC)
Just curious, since I'm not too famliar with folliculitis, but seems like there must be hair involved... I saw another commentor say as much. Would getting rid of the hair altogether help? I'm not sure how natural it's considered, but maybe something like laser hair removal? It's expensive, but it really does work (I used to do it for a living, and have had it done myself)... maybe since you have a medical condition, insurance might cover part of it? I'm guessing shaving is out because of the unevenness of the skin, and depilatories are out 'cause they'll just clog more... not sure about waxing, but I'm guessing having to let the hair grow out between appointments would be excruciating; of course, you have to shave for the laser to be effective, too, so maybe not...

Also, what someone said about Lidocaine or somesuch is good, but be careful to follow whatever recommended dosage; more is NOT better in this case, an really can kill you if you overdo it. Since itching is a form of pain, oral analgesics might also help; I'd lean towards anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) under the circumstances (maybe willow, if you're wanting more natural).

Good luck!!!
Jul. 19th, 2010 06:33 pm (UTC)
It looks like an option, but since this is the first time I've had folliculitis I doubt my cheap insurance would cover it. If this continues to be a problem I will look more into it, especially if that means I don't have to worry about leg hair anymore :)
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )

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