Folliculitis Pictures

What is Folliculitis?

Folliculitis is an inflammation of the hair follicles, the tiny tunnels in the skin from which hair grows. It occurs when the hair follicles become irritated and an infection then sets in. This may be seen with damage to the follicle as a result of shaving, friction with clothing, scratching, or an obstruction of a pore. An infected hair follicle appears as a red bump or white pustule which may crust over at a later stage (Picture 1). Infectious folliculitis which arises with a Staphylococcus aureus (bacteria) infection is discussed in detail within this article. Read about other types of folliculitis.

Folliculitis Pictures

Pictures in this article show staphylococcal folliculitis. Links to pictures of other types of folliculitis.

Staph Folliculitis

Picture 1: Staphylococcal folliculitis with red bumps and pus-filled white centers.
(source: Samuel Freire da Silva, M.D., Atlasdermatologico)

Folliculitis on the Chest

Picture 2: Staphylococcal folliculitis on the woman’s chest
Click to enlarge >> © Dermnet

Folliculitis on Thighs

Picture 3:Staphylococcal folliculitis on thighs
Click to enlarge >> © Dermnet

Folliculitis Pictures on the Web

Folliculitis Pictures on Dermnet
Folliculitis Pictures on Dermnetnz
Folliculitis Pictures on Visualdxhealth

Folliculitis and Acne

Folliculitis and acne are two different skin conditions although gram-negative folliculitis may be seen in certain cases of severe acne. Acne primarily involves the oil-producing glands (sebaceous glands) of the skin which are clogged with excess oil (sebum) and shed skin cells. It may lead to localized inflammatio which may then develop into folliculitis (Picture 5). Due to the similarity of the lesions, it may sometimes difficult to differentiate between acne and folliculitis only by visual examination. Some key points to bear in mind though is that acne occurs mainly on the face, neck and upper trunk, more often in teenagers, and may last for months or years. Folliculitis on the other hand may occur anywhere on the body, can affect at any age group, and it usually lasts only for a few days or weeks.


Picture 5:Infected acne plus non-infected comedones
Click to enlarge >> © Dermnet

Symptoms of Staphylococcal Folliculitis

Staphylococcal folliculitis usually appears as clusters of red bumps surrounding hair follicles (with or without the hair). It varies between 2 to 5 millimeters in diameter, often with a white blister in the center (Pictures 1-3). Inflamed follicles may burst, release pus and crust over. The skin in superficial folliculitis is itchy and tender while in  deep folliculitis it may be painful.

Folliculitis most commonly occurs on the :

  • Beard area in men
  • Scalp
  • Upper trunk (chest, under breasts, in armpits)
  • Buttocks
  • Thighs
  • Groin

Folliculitis never appears in areas without hair follicles such as the palms, soles, or mucous membranes. Superficial folliculitis affects only upper parts of a hair follicle, while deep folliculitis affects the whole hair follicle.

Folliculitis Barbae

Folliculitis barbae is a superficial folliculitis of the bearded area in men, caused by Staphylococcus aureus (staph) bacteria. It often appears on the skin around the nose or mouth when hair follicles that are damaged during shaving become infected, especially in those who are nasal staph carriers.


Picture 6:Folliculitis barbae
(source: Samuel Freire da Silva, M.D., Atlasdermatologico)

Pseudofolliculitis Barbae (Ingrown Hair)

An ingrown hair is a curly hair that curves or twists on the surface and then re-enters the hair follicle opening again. This causes inflammation of the follicle (folliculitis). It may resemble bacterial folliculitis but pseudofolliculitis barbae this is not an infection and tends to occur in those who shave with a razor blade. The use of an electric razor may be one of the preventative measures that may be employed, along with shaving every second day or resorting to not shaving and letting the beard grow (3).

Pictures of Pseudofolliculitis Barbae (Shaving Bumps)

Sycosis Barbae

Sycosis barbae is deep folliculitis of the bearded area in men and involves the deeper parts of hair follicles. Sycosis barbae may leave scars.

Picture of Sycosis Barbae


A stye is an inflammation or infection of a hair follicle on the eyelid.

Folliculitis, Stye

Picture 7:Stye (staphylococcal folliculitis) on the lower eyelid
Click to enlarge >> © Dermnet

Risk Factors for Folliculitis

Folliculitis is more likely to occur in:

  • Nasal staph carriers
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Dermatitis
  • Obesity
  • Topical steroid treatment
  • Lowered immunity (leukemia, AIDS)
  • Acne treatment with tetracycline
  • Infants with tight clothes
  • Athletes
  • Hot humid climates

Folliculitis Diagnosis

Folliculitis may be diagnosed by a medical doctor without any further tests. However, if there is doubt about the diagnosis, then swabs or biopsies of the skin lesions are collected and sent for laboratory testing.  In recurrent folliculitis, diabetes and HIV tests should be considered.

Compare Pictures of Folliculitis with Other Types of Rash

Folliculitis Treatment

  • Superficial folliculitis may heal on its own within 1 to 2 weeks.
  • Applying over the counter (OTC) antibiotic ointments like Bacitracin, Mycitracin (bacitracin + neomycin + polymyxin B), or Bactrobam (mupirocin), or washing with antibacterial soaps may help in more resistant cases (2).
  • In a deep folliculitis and recurrent cases, oral antibiotics (dicloxacillin, cephalosporins) may be needed.
  • Folliculitis caused by MRSA requires treatment by antibiotics chosen on the basis of antibiotic sensitivity test (1).

During acute stages, electric razors should be used or shaving should be temporarily avoided in this time. S. aureus carriers may be treated with mupirocin ointment in the nasal vestibule twice a day for 5 days (1). Family members may be also treated by mupirocin to eliminate the carrier state and prevent re-infection.

Is Folliculitis Contagious?

Staphylococcal folliculitis is very contagious. It spreads by direct skin-to-skin contact, or by sharing razors, towels, clothes or other personal items.

Prevention of Folliculitis

The following measures may help to prevent folliculitis :

  • Wear comfortable airy clothes.
  • Wash and dry swimming suits and sport apparel after each use.
  • Eradicate nasal staphylococci.
  • Laser depilation for hair removal.
  • Disinfect of a sport equipment and hot tubs.
  • Do not share razors and towels.
  • Apply a disinfectant on any break in the skin with shaving.

Folliculitis Complications

Folliculitis may result in :

  • Furuncles
  • Cellulitis – inflammation of deeper layers of the skin
  • Scars or hyper-pigmentation
  • Permanent hair loss (alopecia)

Pictures of Other Types of Folliculitis

Several other types of folliculitis beside staphylococcal folliculitis are known:

Related Articles:


  1. Antibiotics for staphylococcal folliculitis (
  2. Antibiotic ointments for folliculitis (
  3. Ingrown hair – shaving bumps (
About Jan Modric (249 Articles)
Health writer

Please note that any information or feedback on this website is not intended to replace a consultation with a health care professional and will not constitute a medical diagnosis. By using this website and the comment service you agree to abide by the comment terms and conditions as outlined on this page

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  • Sue Willison

    I too have had these skin problems in my life. They started when my younger brother Rich molested me when I was 12 and they never really went away. I havent said anything to my parents because I figured it wasnt worth disturbing the family peace. Sue.

  • Jan Modric

    To Sue.

    If you think you have the rash like described above, you may visit your primary doctor, that may give you appropriate diagnosis, and antibiotics, if needed. He can also set an appointment with dermatologist or infectologist, if necessary.

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  • karina14

    I have a friend who has this bump and its red she says it itches and that it doesn’t hurt is that a sign of the the staff infection?

  • Jan Modric


    if a bump is a boil (furuncle, caused by staph bacteria), 1 cm in size or larger, it would be likely tender to touch. Such a boil has a small opening somewhere on its surface.

    Small staph folliculitis bumps (1-5 mm) usually appear in groups.

    A single small red itchy bump suddenly appearing on the skin may be from an insect bite.

    Slowly (weeks-months) growing red bump can be a mole – benign tumor that may eventually develop into a skin cancer.

    If not sure, dermatologist should check it to say what is it.

  • JAY

    Im a 23 year old male and i went to the doctor cause i tought he would help get some aid i regards to my acne,he ask me if it was itchy and he said my skin was inflamed,and i had an infection as above in my beard area.He told me to let my facial hair grow and the shave and to use antibatirial soap which has helped a lot.But my? is i have never put lotion on my face after i shave cause i think it would do harm,so is it ok for me to put lotion,cause i do notice my facial skin get really dry!?

  • Jan Modric


    does your skin get dry after you put the lotion on? If so, try to use non-alcoholic lotion.

  • alexandra

    i thought i had a allergy reaction they took a sample and said it was this they gave me antibotics for batria???? it itches then burns after i had this for 3months already.. will it go away with ths antbiotics called cephalexin

    • Jan Modric


      if you have staphylococcal folliculitis, cephalexin is one of antibiotics that can treat it…in some days.

  • alexandra

    i am takin cephalexin tht its been 7 days and still no good do you know anything else that i can do? i hav has this for three months ..

  • Jan Modric


    if it was folliculitis, cephalexin should help in this time at least a bit. I recommend you to get a correct diagnosis from a dermatologist.

  • jane

    I have sculp folliculitis for over 5 years during which I have lost a lot of my hair. After many dermatologist visits and treatments with ketoconazole shampoo, vitamin B5, topical solution of chloramphenicol, salicycilc acid and propanol, and at the end oral antibiotics – doxycylinmonohydrat I still have it. It goes away for a month or two and then it comes back. It’s deep, itching me and it hurts a lot, too. I don’t know why there is no cure for this thing so it can go away forever :(.

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  • lucyrose

    my dr has said i have follelculitis under the arm, it is just reasonably mild red spots which are under my arm and downwards. i have to take flucloxicillin tablets for a week, so far there has been no change do you know how long the rash will take to disappear?

    • Jan Modric


      in staphylococcal – bacterial – folliculitis, antibiotics should have some effect in one week, so maybe is it some other type of folliculitis, like fungal folliculitis or some other disorder. A dermatologist can give a diagnosis.

  • petricia

    My daughter has folliculitis and she has responded well with Tar shampoo, topical antibiotics and oral antibiotics. After bathing I get her scalp while still wet and wipe the pus off her scalp then use an antiseptic then antibiotic cream. This treatment has contained the infection only. Oral antibiotic is nessisary to get rid of the main infection.

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  • JJ

    I was diagnosed with folliculitis on my buttox region and was prescribed Doxycycline (2 pills per day for 10 days), but it appears that I had gotten another red bump on the upper half of my buttox region a weak after carefully taking all the meds. Now, three weeks later, I have had a total of 7 bumps on my buttox region, all within the past 2 week span. These bumps have been fairly small and only one ended up getting pus, but it was still small when compared to the boils I received in the past.

    I changed my underwear/wash my buttox region three times per day with anti-bacterial soap, shower twice per day, use new towels/clothes everyday, apply anti-bacterial ointment to each bump several times per day, etc. Basically, I have become a clean freak. I’m even drastically changing my diet because I’m so desperate for this issue to go away, but it hasn’t.

    Any advice? I’m scheduling another appointment soon.

    • Jan Modric


      folliculitis bumps and boils are usually caused by Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, but several starins exist (like MRSA) and not all of them react to the same antibiotics sucessfully. So, you can ask a doctor (infectologist) to take samples of discharge from few boils and send them to laboratory, where they can culture it and find out to which exact antibiotics bacteria are sensitive.

  • Jack

    I was diagnosed with rare quantity of Staphylococcus capitis coagulase, negative
    and i have been diagnosed with folliculitis growing out of my whole head from small pimple like bumps with puss to hard bump that don’t come to a head also it passed on my from my head to my neck, top of my arms chest and back this has been going on with me since February i was put on clindamycin 300mg for taking 4 a day for 10 days i also tried doxycycline and that did not work what should i do? can some explain what does Staphylococcus capitis coagulase, negative mean do you think i might have a fungal infection instead of a bacteria please help me out.

  • sachin

    I have the same problem but it didnt cure with cephalexin. Now I have this spread across my whole body with red bumps with itching but without pus. Doctor has given me Flucloxacillen for 2 weeks. After a weeks treatment I dont see any difference. Any advice from you in this regard.

    • Jan Modric


      if treatment doesn’t help, a swab from few skin bumps can be taken and sent to laboratory, where they can determine the exact subtype of bacteria, and to which exact antibiotics they are sensitive.

  • sachin

    I had been to dermatologist this week and he took the biopsy and after few mins he told me that i have psoriasis. Iam really scared to hear that I have psoriasis. Looking at my body spots they dont look like psoriasis. Dermatologist has suggested me to apply Dovobet and silkis for 30 days. After coming from hospital I did a bit of googling and found out that my condition might be be guttage psoriasis which occurs with or after staph infection. A lot of forums suggest that Dovobet should not be used for Guttate psoriasis. Iam in a big dilemma what to do. I havent started to apply the creams so like to hear your feedback.

    With regards,

    • Jan Modric


      I’ve also read Dovobet should not be used in guttate psoriasis. Guttate psoriasis is usually triggered by an infection, like streptococcal infection of the throat. Here’s one detailed article:

      Like you see, rash can be in the form of red bumps.

  • mama2briana

    My husband has folliculitis, and a Dr recommended Hibiclens (found at drug stores, about $10) and it helps tremendously. That coupled with Mupirocin ointment (2%usp) has kept it to only a few spots, rather than all over face, neck, arms, lower back. I’m not sure if that was mentioned anywhere above, but in finding this forum, wanted to pass that along!

    • Jan Modric


      Mupirocin, like mentioned above in the article, can often successfully kill skin staphylococci. Hibiclens alone would probably not work, but it may help to disinfect the skin.

  • harry

    Hello, I went to the dermatologist due to ALOT of small non pustulating bumps all under my neck area where I shave. (I shave correct, no alcohol products, correct methods). She said it was folliculitis and perscribed topical clindamycin 1%. I went back 5 months later because the problem was exactly the same and then she prescribed Atralin (a tretinoin product). I have been using this for 3 months and the problem is the same and probably worse. What is the next step? I think an oral antibiotic such as cephalexin or augmentin may be sufficient but I know it will not go away with this alone. I worked in a hospital for the past year until 4 weeks ago, so I am thinking it can possibly a nasal staph aureus infection that is consistently infecting my neck (I am usually congested).

    • Jan Modric


      tretinoin is for acne. Folliculitis is usually caused by staphylococcus aureus – OTC antibiotic ointments containing mupirocin are available in pharmacies. If that doesn’t work, a doctor can prescribe you oral antibiotics, and if bumps still persist, a swab can be taken and tested in a laboratory to find an exact subtype of bacteria and sensitivity to various antibiotics.

  • Aaron

    I was diagnosed with staph folliculitis yesterday and given an oral anti-biotic to treat it. My wife has it as well but we both thought it was bug bites. I have 2 questions- 1st- we brought a long haired cat home from an animal shelter a week ago and started noticing the bumps within about 4 days. He had a very bad unknown infection that almost killed him and he was prescribed doxycycline to treat it. Is it possible he gave this to us? Also, how do I keep it from spreading to other parts of my body? Right now it is on my chest primarily and around my eyes. Some spots are showing up on my arms and arm pits today. I want to keep it from spreading but I don’t know if it is spread by touch or what. The LAST thing I want to do is spread it to my groin and live with that misery.

    • Jan Modric


      antibiotic should start to work in few days, and if not, a sample of the rash excretions should be checked in the laboratory and the exact type of infection determined along with antibiotic sensitivity. Folliculitis can spread by hands, clothes or any object touching the infected and then non-infected skin. An OTC antibiotic ointment containing mupirocin could prevent spreading. Don’t take this as my advice, since I don’t know if you have folliculitis or not. Staph infection can spread from cats to human, but other infections are possible.

  • Af

    Dr. Modric,
    I have been on antibiotics (1000 mg cephalexin at bed time) for nearly 4 years for scalp folliculitis with good resolution of the cumbersome symptoms. What worries me is the long term effect of the systemic antibiotics.

    Are there any other treatments, that are permanent?

    • Jan Modric


      I’m not a doctor. Treatment of bacterial (staphylococcal) folliculitis usually lasts for few days/weeks, so I’m not sure if you have meant this or some other type of folliculitis.

  • sameer chaudhary

    At present,I’m having inflammation on my chin.It is paining intolerably.I’ve visited the doctor and he gave me the ointment neosporin and antibiotics Ampicillin and cloxacillin.Further he recommended me not to touch the infected region .But I notice that the folliculitis contains the pus,so is it good to pinch the swollen area to let the pus come out?I can’t stand this unbearble pain any longer.please suggest me.

    • Jan Modric

      sameer chaudhary,

      do not in any case pinch the bumps with pus, since this may result in a life-threatening complications, like infection of the brain (encephalitis). If you can’t bear the pain, ask the doctor for painkillers. If you think antibiotics you’ve got do not work (there should be at least some improvement seen after few days), ask the doctor to take a sample from the rash to determine the exact subtype of bacteria and and to which exact antibiotics they are sensitive.

  • hkan

    My son (9yo) came back from Florida (we live in oregon) with 13 what looked like bites. They were inflamed, pus filled, and extremely painful. They were only on his buttocks. Within the next 24 hours he developed 14 more now ranging from his chest to his knees. Took him to the ER and again to Urgent care for a second opinion and both doctors said it was folliculitis. They gave him a sulfa antibiotic. This morning he woke up with 2 more. One more on his buttocks and one on the front of his knee but at least it didnt double in numbers like it did the night before. He said with this medication he is starting to feel better and have less pain.

    • Jan Modric


      if he gets better, he should continue with the antibiotics, as prescribed. If there will be no signs of improvement in few days, the liquid from the bumps should be probably tested for exact type of bacteria to see if some other antibiotic would be necessary.

  • Dalton O

    I often shave in my lower region, completely shaving any hair around there. However, a couple months ago I started noticing small red bumps, around my pubic region. I didnt think much of it because they looked identicle to an ingrown hair. However, about a month or so ago, i noticed a small bump on the bottom of my shaft. I went to the doctors that morning, where they told me it was an infected hair follicle, which relieved a lot of my stress.. The doctor gave me Cephalexin, and it did not work. About 7 days ago i went to the doctors again, because i started feeling stressed thinking the first doctor was wrong and it may be an std. The other doctor also told me that it was an ingrown hair. But, this stubborn thing wont go away, im sick of having this on my shaft, its rather embarrassing and im starting to worry. Any idea would really help! Thank you

    • Jan Modric

      Dalton O,

      I can’t say is it an ingrown hair or staphylococcal folliculitis. If it is a staph infection, it would be possible that it is caused by a strain of bacteria that are resistant to cephalexin and a different type of antibiotic would be needed. To confirm/exclude staph infection and to find the appropriate antibiotic, a sample of excretion from the rash would be required.

  • Jason

    Hi guys,

    I’d like to share my experience about my hair folliculitis. I’m 26 years old. I smoke around 10-15 sticks a day get drunk at least 2 times a week, and sleep around 4am till 11am in the morning. As you can see, I’m not really living a very healthy lifestyle. I tried to understand the causes and remedies of folliculitis. I have been under heavy oral medication before and have tried other methods in dealing with my problem – such as applying baking soda, manuka honey, vinegar, anti folliculitis shampoos, anti bacterial ointments and the likes. But unfortunately, it keeps coming back and back (prolly 30 times already for me within the span of 5 years)

    I got so fed up using a lot of “unnatural” medication that i decided to just really find out about this sickness and try to come up with my own natural way of fighting it.

    If you ever come across recurring folliculitis and or are tired of using oral medication then i think my advice might help you eradicate or at least contain the problem indefinitely.

    Lets go back to the causes of folliculitis as shown on the article above and how it may have contributed to my having this sickness:

    Folliculitis is more likely to occur in:

    * Nasal staph carriers
    – probably from excessive smoking
    * Diabetes
    – my mom has it but so far i’m no sweet tooth
    * Dermatitis
    – don’t really have this
    * Obesity
    – i was really obese before, i had around 28 percent body fat and was having bad palpitations at night that would wake me up
    * Topical steroid treatment
    -i never had this kind of treatment
    * Lowered immunity (leukemia, AIDS)
    -this is the main culprit as i will mention later on
    * Acne treatment with tetracycline
    -never head this kind of treatment
    * Infants with tight clothes
    -i rarely wear hats
    * Athletes
    -probably not hygenic (not taking a bath right after etc… so they tend to get folliculitis
    * Hot humid climates
    – i live in the philippines. Weather here is about 26-32 degrees. Quite hot.

    As i mentioned earlier, i think my immunity is the real cause of the problem. One day, i just decided to really change my lifestyle. I smoke about 2 sticks a day, don’t drink anymore, sleep at around 10pm (wake up 7-8 hours after for work) and do cardio and lifting weights almost everyday (5-6 days alternate routines, soaking up 2 shirts with my sweat for every workout day). Another bad habits i changed was not smoking anymore after brushing my teeth. I think this contributes a lot especially when you drool in bed and all those chemicals left on your mouth sticks into your hair thru the drool.

    Do you know those games wherein you upgrade your character to combat enemies with ease. Well i basically did that to help me combat this irritating problem.
    Before, i probably had around 10 big bumps on my head and probably 30-40 pus along with it. Now i have around 1-2 bumps and no pus at all.

    Smoking- this is very obvious. All those chemicals that go to your body really kills those good cells and poisons your body. Minimizing or better yet, quitting smoking helps your immunity and helps you intensify your workouts by giving you more energy to do it.

    Alcohol- a few alcohol is ok (1 glass of wine a day as they say). But if you drink a lot, you also poison your liver and lower your immunity since you weaken yourself by excessive drinking.

    Water- Lots of water (1 once per pound of body weight, or 2/3 ounce if your athletic) also helps in combating this problem. Do not take this for granted. Dehydration may contribute to dryness of skin while dryness of skin can also contributes to skin folliculitis. Moreover, you can’t allow all those toxins you ingested to be excreted if your body won’t allow you to perspire much. Your body is smart. Drink too little and it would save all that water. Drink too much and it’ll tell itself to excrete all that water. If you don’t drink enough, you won’t find yourself perspiring much when you workout – which is also important

    Exercising – i remember telling all these to my dad and recall him saying ” well its the natural salt that comes out of your body that kills all those bacteria.” He had a point and my dermatologist had that look where a light bulb could be seen above her head. You not only excrete all those bad toxins you ingested by sweating, but you also kill the bacteria found on your head with your body’s salt.

    Right eating- all my food now is boiled. I don’t drink colas or softdrinks and don’t eat food with sugar and too much sodium. A few drops of salt won’t hurt you’re diet as salt is still necessary for us. I not only lost weight but i also helped my body strengthen with all those veggies and clean meat i ingest.

    Sleeping early- ok theres a clear difference when you sleep early and late even if the number of hours used to sleep is the same. Just notice how your mind and body reacts to those two scenarios. If i sleep early, i feel like brand new the next day, if i sleep late (even with the same amount of sleep) and wake up late, i feel weak and groggy the whole day. One of the reason is (from what i remember on the article i read) because you have hormonal imbalance. Remember how kids get their first pimple and we say its just your hormones. The same thing applies to us. The necessary hormones needed by our body for recovery are being made around 10pm-2am of our sleeping time. In short, your messing with your immune system again when you don’t sleep early.

    Stress- i’m also a hot headed guy. But one thing i do to relieve myself of stress is to just take a moment and breathe. As much as possible, don’t use smoking as an excuse. I only smoke when i’m really REALLY really dying to have one. Get used to this practice and you will find yourself being able to be more patient in a lot of circumstances.

    Hygiene- Always take a bath right after a workout. Don’t wait until 3 hours after to take a bath. If you think your heart has rested enough (around 20 mins after cooldown) then your ready to go. Flush out all those bacteria right away and don’t give them a chance to get into your pores. Remember, after your workout your pores are all open.

    Cut your nails regularly to avoid getting germs and bacteria on it. This will even be more horrible if you use your long nails to scratch your head.

  • john

    hello, an follucitis be also in the hair, and what is a good medication for that,and to stop the itching?

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi John

      Yes, tufted folliculitis occurs on the scalp. You should speak to your doctor about the appropriate treatment. The infection will first need to be treated followed by topical applications to ease the other symptoms like itching.

  • Stephanie

    I was told I have folliculitis and its been 5 days that I am on Cephalexin 4 times a day and I am still bad and itchy. Should I stop and get another antibiotic?

    • Hi Stephanie. Hopefully the condition has resolved by now. As a general rule of thumb, NEVER stop an antibiotic before the course is complete. This applies to an bacterial infectio. It is these incomplete courses of antibiotics that in part contributes to drug resistant bacteria. You may find that the bacteria may be difficult to treat with future courses if you do not complete the current course. The only time that you should consider doing so is if advised by a doctor.