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Scalp infections are the name given to any infection of the top of the head. Many scalp infections can cause hair loss through various methods. 

What scalp conditions cause hair loss?

There are many scalp conditions that can cause hair loss. The most common hair loss causes are folliculitis, ringworm, piedra, seborrheic dermatitis, and psoriasis of the scalp. 

Folliculitis

Folliculitis is a term for inflammation of hair follicles that is usually caused by staph bacteria or fungi. It is well known for causing hair loss. 

Folliculitis causes inflammation of the hair follicles, which looks like acne surrounding hair follicles. Whilst in the early stages, the hair follicle may still be present. However, as Folliculitis progresses, the hair follicle will fall out. 

Treatments for folliculitis include topical antibiotic treatments such as bacitracin, mycitracin, or neomycin. 

Can folliculitis cause hair thinning?

If folliculitis is allowed to progress to the stage where it becomes very severe, it can permanently destroy the hair follicle. This means that hair will no longer grow there, causing the appearance of thinning hair. 

Ringworm

Ringworm is well known for causing hair loss if it affects the scalp. This is especially common amongst children, where the fungus can spread easily from child to child. 

Ringworm is a fungal infection of the skin that can develop anywhere. The fungus affects the hair fibres, causing them to become brittle and break easily, creating a bald patch of skin. 

Ringworm is easily identified, as it grows in a distinctive ring-like patch, where the outside is red and the inside is normal skin colour. Areas of skin affected by ringworm are often red, itchy and inflamed. The skin may also become scaly, blister and ooze. 

Ringworm is extremely contagious and can be caught through a variety of methods. The fungus that causes ringworm, Microsporum gypseum or Microsporum audouinii, can be found in the soil, or on pets and animals that carry the fungus. The fungus can also live on combs and hairbrushes, pool and shower surfaces, or direct skin-to-skin contact. 

Piedra

Piedra is a fungal infection that affects the hair and can cause hair loss. It is caused by a fungus that infects the hair and causes hard nodules to develop on the hair. The infection causes the hair to become extremely weak, meaning that it can easily snap and break off, causing hair loss. 

The piedra fungal infection is usually benign, with its only side effect being hair loss. It can affect any area of the body where hair grows, including the scalp, genitals and body. 

The quickest way to remove piedra is to shave the affected hair off. However, antifungals, such as ketoconazole or terbinafine, can also be used in the treatment of piedra. 

Seborrheic dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis is a skin condition that can affect any area of the body, including the scalp. If developed on the scalp, the condition can cause the skin to become scaly and itchy, ultimately resulting in hair loss. 

Seborrheic dermatitis is still not very well understood, so the conditions that cause this skin condition to develop are not well known. There is known to be a link between seborrheic dermatitis and caucasian genes, particularly those of Celtic descent. 

Seborrheic dermatitis causes the skin to become extremely scaly, sometimes oily, and often itchy and painful. As the skin becomes inflamed, the hair follicles stop producing hair and, once they enter the resting phase, never re-enter the growth phase while the inflammation is present. This ultimately results in hair loss. 

There is no direct cure for seborrheic dermatitis, but there are medicines that can be used to bring the effects under control. The easiest method is using anti-dandruff shampoos to control the skin proliferation and scaling. It is best to consult with your GP to find the correct shampoo. 

Scalp psoriasis

Scalp psoriasis can cause hair loss on the scalp. Psoriasis can cause the skin to become extremely flaky and itchy, and if the skin flakes off, it can remove the hair too. 

One of the major concerns with scalp psoriasis is that scratching can cause bleeding and scabbing, and eventually scarring, of the skin. If this happens, hair will be unable to grow through the scar tissue, resulting in permanent hair loss. 

Psoriasis affects your whole body, so it is likely to show up in other areas too. To treat psoriasis, you will need to consult your GP. There are some special shampoos that can be used, that contain coal tar or salicylic acid, to help control it. However, it can also be the case that other medicines, light therapy, or other treatments are needed. 

There are other scalp conditions that can cause hair loss, such as some forms of acne, viruses like chickenpox, and a group of rare autoimmune diseases called pemphigus, but these are not very common. If you suspect something is causing your hair to fall out, consult your GP or contact us to meet with one of our hair loss specialists. 

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