Hair loss can be traumatic, especially when large amounts of hair are lost within a short period of time. A number of conditions can cause hair loss, including scalp infection. Fortunately, scalp infections can often be effectively treated, and the hair loss reversed. Regular scalp maintenance and good hygiene can also prevent scalp infections. This includes keeping hair appliances such as combs and brushes clean, and never sharing them.
Ringworm is a fungus which causes itchy, ring-shaped patches on the skin. Tinea capits is the medical term for a fungal infection of the scalp. Ringworm causes patchy baldness in its victims. It can also cause the hair shaft to become weak and brittle, which results in hair breakage. It can be effectively treated with a topical or oral medication.
Folliculitis refers to inflammation of the hair follicles. It can be caused by a number of conditions. It can be mistaken for acne, with inflammation surrounding the infected hair follicles. Folliculitis can be caused by noninfectious causes such as oil, or infectious causes such as invasion of bacteria and viruses into follicles which have been damaged by friction. Treatments include antibiotics or topical steroids.
Peidra causes hardened nodules to form on the hair shafts. It is not commonly seen on the scalp, but when it does occur it is often mistaken for a lice infestation or a bacterial infection. It can occur either as black peidra or white peidra. Either type can actually co-exist with a bacterial infection. It can be transmitted from person to person. Peidra can cause the hair shaft to weaken and the hair to break. Peidra is commonly treated by shaving the area of infected hair. A less drastic treatment for peidra is washing the hair and scalp with shampoos made with salicylic acid or azole anti-fungals.
Demodex folliculorum is a parasite which causes one of the most common forms of scalp infections, actually an infestation of the scalp. It is especially common in people who suffer from acne or from male pattern baldness. The parasite feeds on dead skin and oils, both of which are common with acne and male pattern baldness. This parasite and resulting infection can be effectively treated with topical gel. While the gel can cure the infection, it cannot reverse the effects of male pattern baldness.
Sebhorreic dermatitis takes the form of painful and itchy inflammation. It is associated with fungal infection and can occur on various areas of the skin, including the scalp. When sebhorreic dermatitis occurs on the scalp, it can contribute to temporary hair loss. This disease is common in children and older adults over age 50, but uncommon in younger adults. It is also more common in men than in women. Many cases of sebhorreic dermatitis can be effectively treated with medicated dandruff shampoos available over the counter. Antibiotics may also be prescribed.