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Does Fungus Cause Hair Loss? Exploring the Link Between Infections

Fungal infections are nasty, let’s face it – everyone knows they exist but they are uncomfortable to discuss. Most people know of things like yeast infections, but what about fungal infections that affect your hair? These are lesser-known and I guarantee that most people don’t even know that fungal infections can work in this way.

So, can fungus cause hair loss? Yes, and in the below guide, I take a look at the different types such as ringworm and piedra, their treatments, and preventative measures you can take to avoid them.

Understanding Fungal Infections

To start, let’s dissect fungal infections so you understand what they entail. Essentially, a fungal infection is any condition that you get from a fungus. You may not know, but our bodies contain fungi such as in our mouths and skin, but an infection occurs when the fungi overgrow and examples include mold and yeast.

Typical areas of the body that are affected by fungal infections include your nails, skin, throat, and mouth. Hair can also be affected by fungal infections as you will see below, but this is less common compared to something like athlete’s foot.

The Types of Fungal Infections That Can Cause Hair Loss

As mentioned, most fungal infections affect your skin, nails, throat, and feet, but several infections affect your hair including:

  • Ringworm
  • Folliculitis
  • Seborrheic Dermatitis
  • Piedra

Ringworm is relatively common and can be spread by bodily contact. On your scalp, it causes ring-shaped, red, itchy bald spots that can also be incredibly itchy. The rings start relatively small but if the infection penetrates your hair shafts it can cause larger balding areas. Medication is usually prescribed to treat ringworm and in most instances, the hair should grow back.

Folliculitis infects your hair follicles and it can be caused by something as simple as shaving your scalp. This is the mildest type of fungus infection affecting the hair and usually, it disappears within a few days. However, if the condition is serious it can destroy your hair follicles and leave bald patches that might not grow back.

Seborrheic Dermatitis is a type of yeast infection that affects the oily parts of your body such as your scalp and can result in temporary hair loss. You may also notice itching and an excess of dandruff.

Lastly, Piedra is a fungal infection that affects your hair shafts and you will find either white or black nodules attached to the shafts. This infection is more common in tropical climates, particularly in South America and Asia and in some instances, it can cause your hair shafts to break off.

Treatment Options for Fungal-Induced Hair Loss

Psoriasis on the nape of a man Luckily, there is an abundance of treatments for fungal infections that cause hair loss and these vary depending on the type of infection and its severity:

  • Antibiotics or other medication.
  • Medicated shampoo.
  • Antibiotic lotion.
  • Anti-dandruff shampoos.
  • Antifungal medication.
  • Hair transplantation.

In most instances, your doctor will prescribe some type of medication either antifungal or antibiotic, in combination with or instead of special medicated shampoo. If you catch the fungal infection quickly, the damage to your hair can be reversed and there shouldn’t be any permanent hair loss.

However, in instances where the infection is severe and has resulted in bald patches, a hair transplant with something like Dr. Yaman’s FUE technique works as an effective restorative procedure. The surgeon takes healthy hair from the donor area i.e. the back of your scalp, and implants it into the areas of hair loss. This is a permanent solution and it’s also one of the best ways to combat hair loss conditions like alopecia.

Prevention and Management

In most instances, fungal infections are avoidable simply by having good hygiene and keeping your body and clothes clean. This is because you are not giving the fungus ideal conditions to reproduce and multiply. Some simple preventative tips to reduce the chance of fungal infections include:

  • Practice good personal hygiene.
  • Wash clothes regularly.
  • Make sure clothes are thoroughly dry before wearing them.
  • Avoid sharing clothes and headgear.
  • Wear protective clothing when gardening.
  • Use an anti-dandruff shampoo.

Exercise Caution and Maintain a Great Personal Hygiene Routine to Reduce the Chance of Fungal Infections

I hope you now have a clear answer to the question, can fungus cause hair loss? Yes, it can but fungal hair infections are less common compared to conditions like athlete’s foot. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t exercise caution though and I implore everyone to take their hygiene seriously.

Cleanliness with both your body and clothes is the simplest way to prevent fungal infections and if you are exploring permanent hair restoration, they are even more important. If you have a low immune system due to an illness or medication, extra care is needed as you will be more susceptible to fungus infections.