Q. Is Folliculitis curable? Vet has me using hydrocortisone cream.

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A. Folliculitis is usually a symptom of something underlying, as the inflammation is usually bacterial in origin. Systemic diseases that can lead to bacterial folliculitis include endocrine disorders (such as hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease in dogs) and disorders of the immune system.

Skin disorders causing bacterial folliculitis in dogs include: canine acne, acral lick granuloma, skin fold pyoderma, interdigital pododermatitis (interdigital cysts), idiopathic furunculosis of German Shepherd Dogs, pyotraumatic folliculitis, and callus dermatitis, among others. In both dogs and cats, allergic skin disease is perhaps the most common cause of bacterial folliculitis. Parasitism and fungal infection of the skin are also common causes.

The diagnosis of bacterial folliculitis is typically made upon visual inspection and often after undertaking one or more of the following diagnostic tests:

Skin scrapings for mites

Skin cytology

Fungal culture

Wood's lamp examination for fungus (ringworm)

Bacterial culture and sensitivity

Skin biopsy and histopathology

If the medication your vet prescribed does not improve the skin's condition, make a recheck appointment with your vet for further diagnostics or ask for a referral to a veterinary dermatologist for a more extensive workup.

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