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It's not acne—it's folliculitis.

It's not acne—it's folliculitis.

You may have noticed from time to time that small bumps appear over your body. For some, they happen commonly on inner thighs or around the neck. For others, it's under arms or around the groin area.

But the key thing to know is that folliculitis isn't acne, which means it needs to be treated differently.

What is it

Folliculitis is an inflammation of the hair follicle. You've most likely encountered a form of folliculitis in razor burn, which occurs after shaving when bacteria is introduced into the open hair follicle. 

It usually looks like small red bumps, but can occasionally resemble acne in that it can be accompanied by white pus-filled heads (yummy). Folliculitis is usually itchy, but can sometimes be painful and sensitive.

How to treat

Firstly, if it's a minor bout of folliculitis, it's not dangerous: just annoying. But if it doesn't clear within a couple days, it's important to see a dermatologist to make sure there isn't anything weird going on (skin can do scary things sometimes). 

That said, if you have acne on your butt, it probably isn't acne: it's folliculitis caused by sitting, shaving, and/or irritation. Which means you can't rub acne products down there and expect it to clear up. Here's a better protocol:

1. Grab some Hibiclens. This is a special soap used by doctors and nurses to wash their hands before performing surgery. Rub the Hibiclens on your butt or other areas for about a minute before rinsing.

2. Towel dry. Bacteria loves wet, damp places, so make sure you keep your affected areas dry. Don't allow your skin to air dry.

3. Repeat. Do this for three days, and if you don't notice a great improvement, head to the dermatologist.

The fact is that any place on your body can be affected by folliculitis. Any places that are prone to rubbing and irritation—like inner thighs or under arms—are especially prone to irritated hair follicles. The key is to get rid of the bacteria around the hair so that the folliculitis can clear up.