Follicular dermatitis is a skin condition where the actual hair follicle becomes inflamed and produces a swelling, often with a pus like discharge similar to an ingrown hair or a pimple that a human may have. While the condition is not usually serious; it is actually more unsightly and annoying than dangerous, if the bumps become infected or if the condition becomes widespread on the dog's body there is always the chance of hair loss, serious skin infections and the possibility of a weakened immunes system for the dog.
Follicular dermatitis is seen on shorter haired dogs much more commonly than long-haired dogs. Boxers, all Schnauzers, some of the Spaniel breeds, Bulldogs and occasionally virtually any breed that has recently been groomed or stripped can develop isolated cases of follicular dermatitis. Usually the dog seems rather unaware of the lesions but sometimes dogs will begin to lick and scratch at the area, leaving skin open for bacterial infections. In some breeds such as the Schnauzer other forms of dermatitis can also be present, most notably in this breed is Schnauzer Comedo Syndrome, which looks like blackheads along the skin of the dog, particularly over the back.
To treat follicular dermatitis start by providing the dog with routine bathing to remove excessive oils and dead cells from the skins surface. Use either a medicated shampoo or a very gentle and mild shampoo such as an oatmeal dog shampoo. If the follicular dermatitis is severe a medicated shampoo that helps to disinfect the skin can be prescribed or recommended by the vet, with the frequency with which to bath the dog. It is very important to avoid over bathing the dog as this will just lead to dry and itchy skin, causing more licking and scratching and actually making the problem more severe. Grooming is also very important as this helps remove old, dead hairs as well as remove dead skin cells and dander from around the hair follicles. In many of the very short haired breeds there is no routine grooming, but a textured grooming mitt can really help in removing those potentially harmful materials from the skin.
The area where the follicular dermatitis is present can be cleaned using a disinfectant and then an antibacterial cream can be sparingly applied to any inflamed areas. Unless the dog appears to be bothered by the bumps and infections it is best to leave the area to heal without covering it with salves or ointments. If the dog appears overly interested in the area by scratching or licking or if the follicular dermatitis seems to be bothering the dog you should make an appointment to see the vet immediately. Often the dog will need oral antibiotics if the skin has become infected or if the vet feels the condition is severe. In addition the vet may recommend monitoring the food to ensure that this is not an allergic reaction to an additive in the dog food or another environmental contaminant.