A brief discussion on the major scalp infections that cause hair loss.



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Scalp Infections
Scalp Infections are one of the world’s major causes of hair damage and loss through the promotion of hair disease. Fortunately, most scalp infections can be treated and successfully treating a scalp infection can have a significant positive effect on the hair growth.

The main causes of scalp infections are various pathogens or micro-organisms like bacteria, fungus, virus or parasites. Among these micro-organisms the most common pathogens involved in skin and hair infections are bacteria and fungus. However, there is a species of parasites called demodex folliculorum that causes a major hair infection (actually an infestation) in people and it is more likely to develop in people already affected by pattern baldness. Demodex folliculorum can lead to significant itching on the scalp and elsewhere, particularly in the eyebrows and eyelashes. Fortunately, the infection is effectively cured with appropriate treatments.

Bacterial infection which to a large extent affects the scalp is called follliculitus. A type of bacteria called Staphylococcus is known to cause scalp infections in many cases. Sometimes the folliculitus infection is superficial and it heals quickly with appropriate treatments. But if the infection is deep in the hair follicles, the damage to the skin can be more severe and the treatments become quite time-consuming.

Besides bacteria, several scalp infections are caused by a virus, fungus or by parasites. Viral and parasitic folliculitis generally affects other hair growing areas of the body like the beard, the eyelashes, etc. Fungal folliculitus can be divided into various types according to the infected body area like Tinea capits (scalp), tinea barbae (beard), tinea corporis (trunk), tinea cruris (groin) and tinea pedis (feet). Tinea capitis is a severe scalp infection and is more common in children.

Sebhorreic dermatitis itself is not necessarily due to a scalp infection, but the sebhorreic dermatitis does make the skin more attractive to fungal infections and an infection can make the seborrheic dermatitis worse. A seborrheic dermatitis associated fungal scalp infection, is usually caused by a particular species of fungus called yeast Pityrosporon ovale (also called Malassezia furfur). Malassezia is an organism that is normally present on everyones’ skin in small numbers. But sometimes the numbers of the Malassezia organism increase, resulting in skin problems. This sudden increase and arousal of skin problems is suggested by some experts as a causative or at least an exacerbate role of Malassezia yeasts in the presentation of seborrheic dermatitis. While the possibility of Malassezia yeasts being the fundamental cause of seborrheic dermatitis is open to question, it does at least seem to be a complicating factor.

Peidra is another very common scalp infection that affects both curly and straight hair.

It leads to the formation of nodules of different hardness on the infected hair. Piedra is a fungal infection but it can co-exist with bacterial infection. However, this co-existence is usually not seen in the scalp but rather in other hair growing areas of the body like the armpits or groin. Piedra can often be confused with lice or a bacterial infection of the hair.

There are a wide variety of infectious pathogens responsible for scalp infection that can cause severe hair disease. A careful examination of the hair disease, causes and its most appropriate treatment can solve your hair related problems.


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