Ask Dr. Ty: Getting rid of pesky breakouts

Question: I keep getting follicultis — a skin infection — and it’s beginning to take a toll on my mental state. Is there any way to cure it by diet? So far, I’m using a steroid cream.
– Tonya H. asked on Facebook

Folliculitis is a skin infection around the hair follicles, where hair comes through the skin. It looks like clusters of small, raised, red bumps. You can develop folliculitis anywhere, especially the arms, back, thighs, beard and pubic area. Folliculitis is different from ingrown hairs, though.

Most folliculitis goes away on its own. But, if you keep getting the rash and the steroid cream isn’t working, your follicles may be chronically infected with bacteria.

Eating a particular food likely won’t help, but using garlic on the skin may. There’s been some success with making garlic into a paste and applying it to the rash. Garlic is known to have antibiotic properties.

Other things you can try:

  • A bleach bath. It’s not as dramatic or dangerous as it sounds. Put 1/4 cup of actual cleaning bleach in a tubful of water and take a 15-minute bath in the water every day for a week. This is to rid the body of resistant bacteria.
  • Wash the area daily with products containing benzoyl peroxide, preferably with a high percentage. Oxy-10 contains 10 percent, for example.
  • If you’d like to use prescription creams, try Bactroban or mupirocin. It’s particularly good for resistant bacteria.
  • Avoid hot tubs and swimming pools until the rash is gone, and, if you can, avoid shaving. If you must shave, make sure to clean the blades with a strong cleanser or rubbing alcohol after each use.
  • Never sit in sweaty gym clothes or wet bathing suits. Change immediately.

If your problem persists, talk to your doctor or a dermatologist.

Dr. Tyeese Gaines is a physician-journalist with over 10 years of print and broadcast experience, now serving as health editor for Dr. Ty is also a practicing emergency medicine physician in New Jersey. Follow her on twitter at @doctorty or on Facebook. Send your questions to

Note: The information included in this post is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider with questions. Reading the information on this website does not create a physician-patient relationship.