Dog Skin Conditions: Superficial Bacterial Folliculitis

The cause, symptoms, and treatment of canine superficial bacterial folliculitis.

Superficial bacterial folliculitis
Photo courtesy David A. Senter, DVM

Cause: Most commonly, Staphylococcus (“staph”) bacteria, usually secondary to other skin disorders such as allergies, demodicosis (mange), endocrine problems, trauma, foreign bodies, and many others.

Symptoms: Shorthaired dogs often have patchy hair loss, tufts of hair raised above the coat surface and/or reddish or brown “staining” of white hairs. Longhaired dogs may have more subtle symptoms, including scaly skin, dull coat, and excessive shedding. Regardless of coat type, clipping may be necessary to fully reveal the extent of the disorder. The underlying skin lesions include bumps, pimples, crusts, or scales occurring singly, in clusters, or over large areas; reddened circular hairless areas with or without darker pigmentation in the center; scaly or crusty skin may surround the individual lesions in a circular pattern (epidermal collarettes). The degree of itchiness varies from intense to non-existent.

Treatment: Oral antibiotics for three to four weeks or longer, depending on the response; antibacterial shampoos; antibacterial ointments or sprays. Because superficial bacterial folliculitis occurs secondary to other disorders, identification and concurrent treatment of the underlying cause are essential for successful resolution.

Disclaimer:’s Dog Skin Conditions are intended for educational purposes only. They are not meant to replace the expertise and experience of a professional veterinarian. Do not use the information presented here to make decisions about your dog’s ailment. If you notice changes in your dog’s health or behavior, please take your pet to the nearest veterinarian or an emergency pet clinic as soon as possible.


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suzanne   LAS VEGAS, Nevada

4/4/2016 1:10:29 PM

My Malamute had all of the above symptoms. My vet put him on an antibiotic, named Flagyl, since folliculitis is an infection and steroids, Prednisone because it usually goes along with allergies. After scratching and chewing himself and losing lots of hair,for 6 months, in less than 1 week of taking his meds, he was itch free and for the first time, in 6 mo. his hair has started to grow back

Ann be very careful about the "raw diet" I know it's a new fad. BUT your dog could pass on Salmonella to small children if it's raw chicken.

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Jessica   Orlando, Florida

11/16/2014 2:25:33 PM

I need help I have a 4 year old Chihuahua she's constantly stratching her ears and skin she stratches and bites at her little arms where she used to have a little hair. I don't know if she has any food allgeries. Based on her symptoms she seems to have Follictious so my question is that contagious to people or harmful to her. What cures it this got more worse when I Brought her back to Florida. She wasn't like this in New York she was born in Florida though. She's Been back in Florida a whole month going on two so I been bathing her with oatmeal dog shampoo I don't know what else to do should the next step be the vet what medicine should I give her to treat This.

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Michelle   Hannacroix, New York

12/28/2013 12:51:39 PM

I am in need of some help for my dog. He is a three year old lab Sheppard mix. He has food allergies which I have under control but over the last 6 months he has started to pull his hair out around his rear legs, behind, back, and tail. I have taken him to the vet and have received no true solution. His skin looks similar to the photo above. What can I give my dog to relieve these symptoms.

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Jennifer   Seminole, Florida

5/2/2013 5:00:36 PM

I have a 16 week old Doberman Pinscher puppy that I have been bathing about once every 7-9 days. Is it normal for the Doberman breed to develop folliculitis from over bathing and grooming? Or could it be caused by puppy vaginitis?

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