DermNet provides Google Translate, a free machine translation service. Note that this may not provide an exact translation in all languages


Oil folliculitis

Author: Dr Amanda Oakley Dermatologist, Hamilton, New Zealand. Reviewed by Vanessa Ngan, Staff Writer, February 2014.

Table of contents

What is oil folliculitis?

Oil folliculitis is inflammation of hair follicles due to exposure to various oils in the workplace. Excessive oil on the skin can result in small pustules with a red halo in affected areas. Commonly, the lesions are seen on the forearms and thighs. The follicles may be obviously plugged with oil. The pustules may be sterile or contain the harmless skin bacteria, Staphylococcus epidermidis. They may be painless or painful.

Occupational or therapeutic contact with mineral oils or tar can result in comedones and inflamed hair follicles (folliculitis). Occupations at risk of oil folliculitis include:

  • Oil field and refinery workers (crude petroleum)
  • Engineering industry workers
  • Diesel mechanics (impure paraffin mixtures)
  • Sheep shearers (wool fats)
  • Road workers (coal tar distillates including pitch, creosote)

In some cases, topical creams or ointments containing coal tar can also cause oil folliculitis. These are used for the treatment of eczema and psoriasis.

Oil folliculitis

What is the treatment for oil folliculitis?

Skin affected by oil folliculitis should be carefully protected from contact with the responsible material and washed twice daily with a mild soap and water. Change overalls every day.

If the folliculitis doesn't settle by itself, standard treatments for moderate acne usually prove effective.



Related information

Sign up to the newsletter