The Symptoms and Treatments of Scalp Infection

A scalp infection can appear in many forms, but for most of us the irritation is enough to drive us crazy! Itchiness, redness, and a flaky scalp are just a few signs that you might be dealing with an infection. To help you understand a little more about scalp infections, we are going to discuss the most common types of scalp infection and the symptoms that appear with each type. This information could help you discover a treatment that finally helps soothe the symptoms and alleviate your frustration and embarrassment.

Many people are unaware that one of the leading causes behind hair damage and hair loss is a scalp infection. When the scalp becomes damaged due to a fungus, bacteria, or even parasites, the decline is also reflected in the overall health and appearance of the hair. In some cases, the hair near the scalp may become excessively oily, regardless of how often it is washed, and the “body” and tips of the hair may appear dull or brittle. In some cases, people begin to notice a thinning of hair, sometimes to the point that bald patches appear.

The first type of scalp infection we are going to discuss is the fungal type. Fungal infections are one of the most common types of infection to plague the scalp and, unfortunately, can be quite difficult to treat due to good ‘ole fungi persistence. The most common fungal infection to occur on the scalp is ringworm, or Tinea Capitis. The most prevalent symptoms include a round, scaly rash on the scalp, often accompanied by hair loss in that area. The infected area may be itchy, red, swollen, or tender to the touch. The hair may also become matted with a crusty residue and in severe cases, puss pockets can form in the scalp. This type of fungus can be passed from person to person and is often seen in young children—particularly those who spend a great deal of time around other children. Because this fungus can reside in clothing, bedding, combs/brushes, and other materials for long periods of time, it can be especially difficult to treat. With treatment, the Tinea Capitis fungus usually clears up in about two months as long as the treatment is not ended prematurely. A doctor will usually prescribe an antifungal shampoo in conjunction with an antihistamine medication to be taken orally to soothe itching. Alternatively, the doctor may choose to prescribe an oral antifungal medication as opposed to shampoo.

The other most common type of scalp infection is caused by bacteria. Folliculitis is the most common form of bacteria to affect the scalp and usually targets the hair follicles. There are two basic categories of this infection, which are infectious and non-infectious. Non-infectious folliculitis is caused when oils or hair products are left on the scalp and the hair follicles become clogged. This causes swelling, inflammation, and sometimes a painful sensation around the follicles. Infectious folliculitis can occur through any sort of trauma to the follicles that then allows bacteria to gain entry into the scalp, which leads to inflammation. The “trauma” that can allow the bacteria into the scalp comes in many forms, such as shaving, friction caused by hats or other clothing, and injury such as a head wound. The severity of the condition largely determines the type of symptoms that will occur. With superficial folliculitis, a pustule similar to a pimple will form around hair follicles, but they usually heal without scarring the scalp. With a deep or severe folliculitis infection the pustule goes deeper into the follicle causes redness and severe inflammation. Painful lesions may also form on the scalp. Treatment often includes the use of oral antibiotics and in severe cases a steroid treatment may be given.

A common infection that afflicts many people is dandruff, which is a yeast infection of the scalp. While many people are of the opinion that bad hygiene and over-shampooing are causes behind dandruff, the true medical opinion is that it is caused by an overabundance of a microorganism called pityrosporum ovale. This yeasty fungus causes redness, flakes or scaly patches on the scalp, and sometimes itchiness. For the most part, changing shampoos or the amount of times you shampoo each week does not have an effect on dandruff. Sometimes a medicated shampoo such as Head & Shoulders or Selsun Blue can help keep the symptoms under control, as can antifungal creams. In severe cases, a doctor may issue a prescription shampoo or cream to help ease symptoms.


 

 


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