The scientific name is folliculitis, and it often starts with damage to your hair follicles either from a blockage or from friction caused by clothing or shaving; hence, the term barber's itch.
The small, white-headed pimples around one or more hair follicles can occur almost anywhere on your body, but they are especially common on the face, scalp, thighs, legs, and in the groin area.
Once injured, the follicle is susceptible to infection by bacteria, yeast or fungi. In many cases, the infection clears on its own. When it persists, your doctor may recommend treatment with a topical antibiotic.
Although it's not always possible to prevent folliculitis, The Mayo Clinic offers these measures to help keep you infection-free:
- Avoid constricting clothing: Tight clothes especially jeans and athletic wear may be stylish, but make sure they don't chafe your skin.
- Shave with care: Use an electric razor or a new blade every time you shave. Be especially careful to keep the shaved area clean and to avoid cuts and nicks. If you're a woman who gets frequent infections, you may want to consider depilatories or other methods of hair removal.
- Maintain hot tubs: If you own a hot tub, clean it regularly and add chlorine when recommended. Use commercial tubs only if you're sure they're well-maintained.