According to MedlinePlus, folliculitis, or inflammation of the hair follicles, can occur anywhere on the body where there are hair follicles, and is a common problem under the arm. Folliculitis can be an irritation caused by shaving, friction or blockage of the follicles. It can be uncomfortable and unsightly, and has the potential to develop into an infection. Folliculitis usually appears as bumps that may be reddened; there may be drainage if there is an infection. Sometimes pustules, or pimples, appear in the affected area.
Use warm compresses in the area. Wet a towel with warm water and place it on the area for a few minutes. This helps to open up the follicle and promote drainage. Be careful that the towel is not too hot so it does not burn the skin.
Take antibiotics or other medications as directed by your doctor. Sometimes the doctor will need to do a culture of the affected area to determine what the appropriate antibiotic is to treat the area. Ask your doctor if a hydrocortisone cream is appropriate to use for decreasing itching and inflammation.
Prevent a recurrence of folliculitis or an exacerbation of the current condition. Avoid friction from clothing as much as possible by wearing loose clothing. Do not use lotions or deodorants since they can cause irritation. Avoid shaving the area.
Use good hygiene. It is important to wash hands frequently and change clothing appropriately so that the area does not become contaminated. Wash the area twice a day with a mild soap and water. Keep the area dry and clean as much as possible.
Use a new razor every time you shave, or use an electric razor. Keep areas that are being shaved clean. Avoid constrictive clothing. Consider alternative ways of removing hair in the area if folliculitis is a recurring problem.
Visit a doctor to confirm the diagnosis of folliculitis. It is important to rule out other skin conditions. More importantly, a doctor will be able to identify if there is an underlying infection that needs to be treated with antibiotics. Some forms of infections need special testing or special medications. If there is a boil or abscess, a doctor may need to incise and drain the area in order for it to heal. Sharing linens, towels or washcloths that have come into contact with the affected area is not recommended, since some infections can be passed from person to person.