Symptoms, Causes & Treatment of Scalp Infections

a woman scratching her scalp

Scalp infection: causes, symptoms & treatment

Scalp cleanliness is very important as it relates to the growth of hair. How healthy does it grow? Many children and infants face problems with scalp infections. The scalp can be infected due to fungus or bacteria that enter the scalp from hair follicles or if the skin is damaged.

Healthy hair is only achieved when you have a healthy scalp. We always need to take care of the scalp, as most hair care problems start from the scalp only. The scalp is also like the skin, which tends to get affected by various infections. So, let’s know more about the scalp and its infections.

What are scalp infections?

Eczema and psoriasis are the best examples of infection on the scalp of your head. This is the most common type of skin condition that causes flaky skin. There are many causes for scalp infections caused by bacteria and fungal infections on the scalp. The symptoms of scalp infection differ from person to person and can be treated with ointments, medicated shampoos, and creams. The symptoms may include redness, itching, and cradle cap in infants.

Scalp infection if untreated can further cause hair loss or many kinds of skin infections on the scalp. But there are many more causes of scalp infection and hair loss which can be genetic or due to diet.

Types of scalp infection

Types of scalp conditions and skin conditions of the scalp that cause infection:

  • Hair loss or hair damage is a common type of scalp condition that involves breaking the hair or creating small patches on the scalp.
  • Hair loss or other scalp conditions are also caused due to thyroid hormones. If thyroid hormone is affected it leads to many changes in body functioning. The types of thyroid disease are hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, Hashimoto's disease, or Graves' disease. This disease too causes hair loss and in severe cases may lead to balding.
  • Hair loss and many scalp conditions also occur due to using hair styling tools, various hair products that contain chemicals, and shampoos that cause thinning and breakage of hair.
  • Many autoimmune diseases also cause hair loss and scalp infection.
  • Cradle cap is seborrheic eczema the skin condition caused in infants and in adults is known as dermatitis that causes itchy, flaky, and scaly patches on the skin of the scalp or head is known as dandruff.
  • Psoriasis is another common skin disease that affects the scalp that causes dry, red, and scaly patches on the scalp and it also causes inflammation on the skin.
  • Leishmaniasis is a parasite that causes skin inflammation.
  • Ringworm is another skin infection that generally occurs in children.

How do scalp infections start?

There are many reasons why scalp infections start, most of them are associated with the hygiene you put on the care you take. Scalp infections can be started due to genetics and using the products like caps, combs, and other hair care accessories used by an infected person. It can also be transferred from the scissors in the saloon if it’s not cleaned and maintained properly. 

Signs and symptoms of scalp infection

A few symptoms of skin conditions that might be visually inspected are:

  1. Hair loss, hair breakage, or hair thinning 
  2. Redness on scalp skin
  3. Itchy scalp
  4. Inflammation on the scalp or skin
  5. Pain
  6. Flaky skin
  7. Male pattern baldness 
  8. Psoriasis
  9. Ringworm 
  10. Alopecia
  11. Eczema

Scalp infection treatment

Treatment for scalp infection or condition depends on the identification and symptoms of the disease. The symptoms vary from person to person and also the treatment depends on these symptoms.

It is very important to know whether the scalp condition is due to nutritional deficiency if-then supplementary diets help to relieve the scalp condition. Hair transplantation is also the treatment for more hair loss but should be medically prescribed by the doctor. This can treat the hair loss process.

Medicated ointment, creams, and shampoos also can treat skin conditions by removing lice or other insects in the hair and reducing itching on the skin. There are also many home remedies that are natural remedies to prevent scalp infections. Also following a good hair care routine is recommended to every individual but also the skin condition does not necessarily mean that you are not hygienic. 

Take Away

Scalp condition is caused by many reasons and there are treatments for the same based on various symptoms which differ from person to person. This skin or scalp condition may be uncomfortable but treatment is effective but sometimes it may not be effective and the option that you are left with hair transplantation at it may also cause hair loss. So in case of any symptoms that relate to hair loss or balding or scalp condition always consult a dermatologist or a doctor and take medicated creams, ointments, and shampoos based on the doctor's prescription.


How serious is a scalp infection?

Untreated scalp infection can cause severe medical complications. There are chances that the infection can be transferred to other parts of the body.

How do I know if I have a scalp infection?

The main symptom you can notice is itching or rashes on your scalp, and hair fall in some cases too. However, if you notice something irregular with your scalp health or hair health then you can consult your doctor.

How can I check my scalp?

If you notice something unusual lately then it can be a reason for infection. Apart from that, you can check for rashes or redness on your scalp too.


What to know about scalp infection? By Medical News Today, Jan 9, 2019.

Scalp conditions. By Healthline, Feb 13, 2023. 

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