A yeast infection on the scalp can be itchy, painful and unpleasant. It can also give your hair a flaky, unhealthy look. So it is natural to be concerned if you suspect you may have developed this condition.
The good news is that yeast infections are rather common scalp problems. In fact, they are among the most frequent causes of an itchy scalp, according to the NHS. If treated correctly and in a timely fashion, they resolve within a few weeks, complications are rare and associated hair loss is usually not permanent.
This article will tell you everything you need to know about this topic:
Yeast is a type of fungus that is normally found on our skin and scalp in certain quantities. This is natural and usually does not cause any health issues. However, when different factors cause these fungi on your scalp to overgrow, they can lead to a local yeast infection.
There are two main types of fungi which are usually responsible for scalp infections:
This fungus overgrowing is the main cause for yeast infections on your skin, scalp, as well as your genitals, known as candidiasis .
Candida albicans is the most common culprit, as this species is responsible for 65.3% of candidiasis cases .
While these infections are normally benign and easy to treat in healthy people, they can be quite dangerous to those who are immunocompromised .
The overgrowth of this type of yeast is usually responsible for causing scalp conditions, such as seborrheic dermatitis, dandruff, tinea versicolor and Malassezia folliculitis .
There are many reasons why an overgrowth of yeast can occur on your scalp, leading to infection. The most common of these are :
You may have used yeast in your kitchen, to help baked goods rise or for brewing. However, the species you have used is not the same as the ones that live on your skin and manipulating it will not give you a yeast infection.
The cooking-friendly type of yeast is Saccharomyces cerevisiae, while the ones colonising your scalp and skin are mainly Candida and Malassezia. So no, cooking with yeast will not cause a yeast infection on your scalp. .
There are several signs that you may be experiencing a scalp yeast infection. Here are some of the most common symptoms of yeast infection on your scalp:
Keep in mind that these symptoms are not specific to yeast infections alone, but can also be caused by a variety of other issues. Always consult a trichologist for a proper diagnosis.
In rare cases, untreated yeast infection of the scalp can spread to other parts of your body, with serious consequences, especially if you are immunocompromised. Contact your health provider if you experience any of the following symptoms alongside a scalp yeast infection:
There are several conditions which can present similarly to a yeast infection on your scalp. Here are some of them :
Sometimes, even hair specialists have difficulties telling these conditions apart by merely looking at your scalp. They may need to perform a dermoscopy or a scalp biopsy in order to identify the root of the issue.
If you are a healthy person, with a strong immune system, all you need to do to prevent yeast infections is to maintain a healthy lifestyle, good scalp hygiene and avoid using harsh chemicals on your hair.
However, if you are immunocompromised, suffering from a health condition or undergoing drug treatment which predisposes you to opportunistic infection, it is best to get a recommendation adapted to your specific needs.
Dandruff is indeed, most often, an infection caused by the Malassezia yeast. However, in some cases, it may also be caused by non-microbial factors, such as dry skin, eczema or psoriasis .
Dandruff is one of the most common fungal infections, affecting 50% of the world’s population. This infection occurs especially in people with higher sebaceous secretion (aged 15-50). Its main symptoms include :
Ketoconazole is the most commonly recommended antifungal medication in the treatment of dandruff, as it is effective in reducing Malassezia overgrowth.
A study  on 66 patients with severe dandruff showed that after 4 weeks of treatment with ketoconazole shampoo, 73% of those who had used 2% concentration and 45% of those who used 1% concentration were dandruff free or had at least significantly improved in both scalp flakiness and amount of yeast present on their scalp.
Moreover, the relationship between ketoconazole and hair loss has also been documented, with studies showing it to be as effective in treating androgenetic alopecia (male pattern baldness) as Minoxidil .
Treatment for a scalp yeast infection largely depends on the fungus which has produced it and its severity.
Mild forms of seborrheic dermatitis are treated with antifungal shampoos which contain :
For more severe forms of dandruff, corticosteroids are generally effective.
The main treatment for mild candidiasis is:
If oral treatment is required, fluconazole is usually prescribed with good results.
While some of these antifungal shampoos and treatments are available over the counter, it is best not to self-medicate. Any active substance can have unwanted side effects and some may be more efficient than others in treating your condition. So whenever possible, get the recommendation of a hair specialist.
If you are experiencing a mild form of yeast infection on your scalp, you can try these home remedies to get some relief for your symptoms before your appointment with your hair specialist :
Fungal infections usually cause discomfort, but can your itchy scalp turn into hair loss?
Normally, mild scalp yeast infection does not cause permanent hair loss. However, you may notice diffuse thinning because the strands are broken by scratching or some of your hair follicles are clogged by crusting.
Furthermore, if stress is an underlying factor in both your scalp yeast infection and your hair shedding, you may be experiencing a temporary condition called telogen effluvium, which involves hair loss from stress.
However, even a mild yeast infection, left untreated, can become more severe. Severe forms of candidiasis of the scalp or seborrheic dermatitis can cause lasting damage to hair follicles, sometimes resulting in scarring alopecia.
While this is a rare occurrence, if your yeast infection does result in permanent scarring, conventional hair regrowth treatment, such as Minoxidil or Finasteride will not be effective. That means you may need a hair transplant to cover up the bald spots.
If you suspect that you may have a yeast infection on your scalp, it is best to get it diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. This will not only relieve your scalp discomfort and have your hair looking happy and healthy once more. It will also remove the risk of the infection spreading to other parts of your body and permanent damage to your hair follicles.
So book a consultation now at your most convenient location. Here at Wimpole Clinic, our best hair specialists will identify the exact scalp condition you are facing and provide you with an effective, personalised treatment plan.
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