Pseudomonas Folliculitis: Symptoms & Treatment

Do you love to go to the pool? Do you love waterslides? You might want to think twice about getting into the pool unless you’re ok with Pseudomonas folliculitis. This lesson goes over this condition’s symptoms and treatment.

Pseudomonas Folliculitis

Who doesn’t love summer? You’ve got swimming pools and water slide parks you can go to during the day. You’ve got outdoor hot tubs for a relaxing evening at home. But you’re not the only one who loves this summer fun. Bacteria called Pseudomonas aeruginosa love it too. And my what fun you’ll have when you get infected by this bacteria found in contaminated water, especially in contained water sources like pools and tubs.

You might get a condition called Pseudomonas folliculitis as a result. Folliculitis refers to the inflammation (‘-itis’) of the hair follicles.

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Let’s learn about this condition’s signs, symptoms and treatment options.

How Does This Happen?

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a bacterium that can be found in your intestines. That means you poop it out. It can be found in the anogenital region of your body as a result. So when someone who didn’t shower before jumping into the public pool splashes into the water, you can imagine these bacteria become suspended within the pool water you’re in as well!

When the pool water isn’t properly balanced with chemicals like chlorine, Pseudomonas aeruginosa can thrive. This bacterium loves a warm and moist environment that’s rich in dead skin cells that it can feed off of. And so you’re a perfect target in this situation, especially if you’ve got (sometimes unnoticeable) breaks in the skin.

Signs ; Symptoms

In as little as eight hours after you’re exposed to contaminated pool water, you can expect the following summer fun:

  • Itchiness
  • A burning sensation
  • Red and flat discolored spots on the skin, called macules.
  • These then turn into papules, which are like pimples, and pustules, which are like pimples with pus.

This usually occurs in between skin folds (like the armpits) or in areas under your bathing suit.

Pseudomonas folliculitis


Usually, all of this resolves in about a week or so without treatment, but there might be some brownish discoloration to your skin thereafter in the spots where you had the rash. There’s no evidence that treating this infection with antibiotics, drugs that target bacteria, will help speed up the recovery process. This is likely because Pseudomonas aeruginosa is resistant to most topical and oral antibiotics.

In some cases, such as when a person is immunocompromised, an antibiotic called ciprofloxacin or clindamycin might be used.

Lesson Summary

Pseudomonas folliculitis is the inflammation/infection of the hair follicles as a result of Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria. These bacteria, found in your intestines, thrive in improperly disinfected communal and contained water sources like pools and hot tubs. They infect the person, sometimes through breaks in the skin, and within as little as eight hours produce:

  • Itchiness
  • Burning
  • Macules, reddish (in this case) and flat discolorations of the skin
  • Papules, pimples, and pustules, pimples with pus

All of this resolves on its own most of the time in about a week or so without any need for treatment. In some cases, drugs that target bacteria, antibiotics, might be used. These include ciprofloxacin and clindamycin.

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