Infections That Cause Hair Loss: Infectious Agents

Several types of infections and infectious agents can cause hair loss. Some of these infectious agents are:

• Scalp Ringworm
• Folliculitis
• Piedra
• Demodex Folliculorum
• Seborrheic Dermatitis

Analysis of the health of the hair done in a trichological center.

1) Scalp Ringworm:

Scalp Ringworm or Tinae capitis is an infection that can cause hair loss. Unlike the name suggests, it does not have anything to do with worms.

It also goes by the names ringworm of the scalp, herpes tonsurans, and ringworm of the hair. It is a fungal infection. It can occur on any area of the body because it is fungal. The nails can have Ringworm or athletes foot – it is the same thing. When Ringworm occurs on the scalp or on a hair bearing part of the body, it can lead to hair loss.

The first symptom of Scalp Ringworm is a small pimple like bump. It gradually expands in size. The scalp will then have scaly patches, and the fungus will reach the hair fibers. This will cause brittle and hair loss. The appearance of the illness looks like rings – as the name of the illness implies.

Scalp Ringworm is contagious. One can get it through direct contact with an affected person, or with a contaminated item. Pools, showers, combs, towels, clothing are few to name. Scalp Ringworm in general affects children.

Types of (Scalp) Ringworm

There are different types of Scalp Ringworm. The rate of incidence in each of them differs geographically – varies from region to region, continent to continent.

Trichophyton Tonsurans is a very common type of Scalp Ringworm in Latin America. On the other hand, Microsporum Audouini cases are very frequent all around the world.

Trichophyton Violaceum is common in the Middle East, whereas Trichophyton Megninii and Trichophyton Schoenleinii are common in Africa and Southern Europe. Some fungus exists in soil, and some animals, especially cats, carry fungus. If humans have contact with an infected animal, they can get Scalp Ringworm, or the Ringworm fungus in general.

Treating Scalp Ringworm

Treatment of Scalp Ringworm is fortunately available. The treatment depends on the affecting fungus. For treating Scalp Ringworm, the doctors often prescribe antifungal medication. Antifungal shampoos may also help in the treatment, but they may not be solely effective on treating the Scalp Ringworm.

The antibiotic called Griseofulvin (also goes by the name Fulsovin) is often the first choice in treating Scalp Ringworm. Terbinafine, fluconazole, itraconazole are some other options in the treatment of Scalp Ringworm.

In some cases, Scalp Ringworm resolves on its own.

2) Folliculitis

Folliculitis in the name of an infection that can cause hair loss. It is the inflammation of the hair follicles. It can look like pimples in the beginning, and after a while the hair falls out. The inflammation appears like rings around the hair follicles. It can appear on any hair bearing part of the body.

The condition is common and often not very severe. In mild Folliculitis, there may be no need for treatment. It is a benign condition. Healthy people can have Folliculitis if they acquire it.

Sycosis Barbae is a type of chronic folliculitis of the beard area.

Causes of Folliculitis

Often, it is Staphylococcus Aureus, a germ, which causes Folliculitis. Other times, oil clogs up the hair follicles. Excessive sweating can also be a cause.

Treating Folliculitis

Many cases of Folliculitis progress mildly. They require no treatment at all.

It can resolve in 7-10 days on its own. In severe and chronic cases, doctors can prescribe griseofulvin or oral antibiotics (for example: erythromycin) and for milder cases, benzoyl peroxide, andantibiotics (bacitracin, mycitracin, or neomycin).

Maintaining good personal hygiene can prevent Folliculitis.

3) Piedra

Piedra is a fungus that affects the hair fibers and causes infection. It also goes by the name Trichomycosis Nodularis. One of the most visible symptoms of Piedra is the stone hard nodules on hair fibers. In Spanish, piedra means stone. That is where the name of the illness comes from.

Types of Piedra

There are mainly two types of Piedra: the white Piedra, and the black Piedra.

Trichosporon Beigelii causes white Piedra, and it is common in tropical countries. The fungus Piedra Iahortae causes black Piedra, and it is common in the USA, and in Europe. The names black and white Piedra refer to the colors of the nodules on the hair fiber as Piedra develops.

Treatment of Piedra

Piedra may affect all hair bearing parts of the body including the scalp and the
genital areas.

The treatment of Piedra can involve the following:

• Shaving the affected area
• Application of topical formaldehyde
• Application of salicylic acid
• Oral use of ketoconazole
• Oral use of terbinafine

4) Demodex Folliculorum

Demodex Folliculorum is a type of face mite. It occurs in humans. Whether they cause hair loss is still under debate, and yet the evidence so far shows that they are harmless. They do not play a part in hair loss according to the most recent research.

They occur in many people even though we do not notice them.

They can sometimes cause itchiness and irritation. If your eyelashes are itchy, it might be due to Demodex Folliculorum.

They are very small in size, and can live in ears, arms, and chest.

5) Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrheic Dermatitis is a skin condition. The other name for it is Seborrhoeic Eczema. It can occur on the scalp or on other parts of the body.

Seborrheic means the sebaceous zones – the greasy zones of the face and the body – have redness, inflammation, and itchiness.


The first symptoms are an oily and inflamed skin. The skin will look scaly too. Dandruff is a mild Seborrheic Dermatitis. It is common in men, and can start after puberty.

The cradle cap in babies which occurs after birth, and stays for a few months on the scalp is also a form of Seborrheic Dermatitis.


We still do not know the exact cause of Seborrheic Dermatitis. People of Celtic and Caucasian descent are more prone to Seborrheic Dermatitis.

The Malassezia yeast lives on the skin. It is believed to cause Seborrheic Dermatitis.

The following can trigger Seborrheic Dermatitis:

• Cold weather (it is more common in cold weather than in warm weather)
• Dry weather
• Hormonal fluctuations
• Stress
• Harsh chemical, beauty, and personal care products

Diagnosis of Seborrheic Dermatitis

The diagnosis of Seborrheic Dermatitis is straightforward. There is no test to identify it. Though, your doctor may request a scalp biopsy.

The Treatment of Seborrheic Dermatitis

The treatment of mild cases of Seborrheic Dermatitis is very effective. The treatment involves:

• The application of mild steroid creams
• The application of non-steroid anti-inflammatory eczema creams
• The use of medical shampoos (ketoconazole, selenium sulfide, coal tar, and zinc pyrithione)
• Oral antifungal medications in severe cases.


thirteen − 4 =