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Bacterial Infections That Cause Hair Loss


Bacteria could enter the human body through several ways such as a cut or wound, an opening in your skin, or through your airway and cause a variety of infections. Though these infections are extremely common there are multiple ways through which you can get them.  This will make a difference to your symptoms and treatment options. 

Loss of body immunity is the main reason for hair loss that is induced by bacterial infections. Though these conditions are largely treatable, early diagnosis is crucial to offer opportunities for the best treatment and remedial measures. Any misdiagnosis could compromise the possibilities of the success of treatment procedures or indeed the options for hair transplant too.

Conditions such as Folliculitis Decalvans, Syphilis, and Impetigo tend to affect the body. Folliculitis Decalvans is a skin condition, which could be the result of a bacterial infection. This can cause permanent hair loss in both men and women. It mainly affects men during childhood but could also begin at early adulthood and later too. This condition leads to the inflammation of the hair follicles and leads to an itchy scalp. Folliculitis is a bacterial infection and it affects the hair follicles which become inflamed. They appear as small pimples around the infected follicles in any part of the body. They could later escalate into crusty sores all over the body. 

Syphilis is also a condition that leads to hair loss in both men and women if not attended to at the right time. Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease and could lead to syphilitic alopecia. It is a very contagious disease and could spread if steps are not taken to prevent its occurrence. 

The success of treatment for Impetigo depends essentially on the timely diagnosis of the condition. The first step would be to take medicines to control hair fall which could include hair growth shampoo and antibacterial soaps to arrest the spread of the infection. This bacteria spreads in warm and humid conditions when the immune system of the body is compromised. 

What Are The Causes Of Scalp Folliculitis?

The most common reason for Folliculitis Decalvans is a bacterial infection by Staphylococcus aureus. This is usually found on your skin and inside your nose. 

This type of folliculitis normally affects the scalp and results in oval-shaped or round bald spots.  The scalp becomes tight and you could experience pain. Small sacs full of yellowish pus form at the back of your head but might appear anywhere on your scalp as well. The pustules could ooze and form scabs and could lead to scaly skin or crusts. The hair tends to grow in tufts with several strands developing from the same follicle. The follicle eventually dies leaving behind a bald spot and scar.  

There is a condition called hot tub folliculitis which normally happens when you come in contact with improperly chlorinated water.

Normal folliculitis can be treated with topical medicines like bacitracin, neomycin, and mycitracin. More severe forms of folliculitis need to be treated with oral medicines such as erythromycin.

Bacterial folliculitis is caused by damaged hair follicles. This is contagious and could be caused by the sharing of pillows and combs. 

How To Detect Scalp Infections?

Your doctor will take a look at your skin, go back to your previous history, and will look at medical reports to diagnose any infection. Most of these start as skin infections that cause hair loss. Since the scalp is an extension of the skin, any infection that occurs in the skin would naturally spread to the scalp too. This means that this could affect the hair follicles too and impact healthy hair growth. Your hair might not grow as smoothly if your scalp is inflamed and irritated. This could result in hair thinning and breakage and also hair loss. The doctor might also opt to examine your skin with the help of a microscope. If the initial rounds of treatment do not help, the doctor might take a swab of your infected area to establish which strain of bacteria or fungus has caused the infection. If the results are yet inconclusive and the condition persists, a biopsy might be required for a conclusive diagnosis.

How Do You Cure The Infection?

These infections are not easy to cure, however, treatments to decrease inflammation and reduce scarring to prevent further hair loss are possible. Very often, the condition goes into remission only to flare up later. Therefore, treatment is more often an ongoing and largely prolonged process. Some of the treatments include oral medications like

  • Antibiotics: These are used to eliminate the bacteria completely from your system. 
  • Corticosteroids: These could also be prescribed to reduce inflammation. 
  • Isotretinoin: These are helpful to clear up the pustules. 

Other options include methyl aminolevulinate photodynamic therapy (MAL-PDT) which is a very effective remedy. Here, a specific chemical is applied to the scalp which is capable of reacting to a special light to eliminate the infected cells and bacteria.

Sometimes the doctor might look at the type of scalp infection and suggest a line of treatment to cure the infection. They could be the following: 

  • Hair transplant: The doctor might suggest a hair transplant if the follicles have already been severely damaged by the infection. Here healthy hair follicles are transplanted in the damaged area. The surgery might leave a small scar at the end.
  • PRP: This is platelet-rich plasma and this is a non-invasive procedure to ensure hair regrowth. Blood is taken from a patient and it undergoes a centrifugal process. It is then altered to protein-rich plasma and injected into the area where the infection has taken place. New hair grows quickly time through this procedure. 

Hair loss from Folliculitis Decalvans is in most cases permanent and this could make a number of individuals conscious of their appearance. A number of people tend to go into anxiety or depression and in such cases counselling might be necessary. Some options might be scalp micro pigmentation and hair grafting which might help mitigate the effects by making the bald spots less noticeable. You could also opt for a hairpiece or a wig.

Can Fungus Cause Hair Loss?

Fungal infections can have very similar symptoms to bacterial infections. However, antibiotics cannot be used to treat fungal infections.Fungal infections could also lead to hair loss as they affect the hair fibres by making them brittle. They tend to break off easily and leave behind a bald patch of skin. 

Fungal infections are normally transmitted by animals, objects or people. Once it comes into contact with your skin, it could spread and infect other areas. Quite a few fungal infections of the skin and the scalp are triggered by a  species of yeast fungus known as Candida albicans

Seborrheic dermatitis is also a yeast fungus and is responsible for an inflammatory condition that causes itchy red scales which shed on the outer layers of the skin and/or the scalp. Also called "cradle cap" on an infant, it is associated with hereditary hair loss and atopic dermatitis and is made worse by cold weather. The scabs may also develop if you end up scratching your skin which opens up the skin on the scalp. This allows viruses and bacteria to enter, and this could lead to hair loss.

Androgen steroids can be the trigger for seborrheic dermatitis. The sebaceous glands develop a very rich form of sebum with high triglyceride and cholesterol content. This leads to the increase of skin yeast and causes more inflammation and irritation.

Malassezia Infections are one of the most frequent types of scalp infections and are the result of fungal outgrowths. These happen because of hormonal changes in the body which lead to excess oil in the scalp. This in combination with an unhygienic scalp could provide a fertile ground for faster fungal growth. 

Scalp Fungus Hair Loss

The major fungal infection that leads to hair loss happens because of a ringworm called tinea capitis. This starts with a mild itch which increases in course of time and could cause extreme discomfort. It normally starts from a small area which becomes bigger quite rapidly. This results in the scaling of the skin around the hair follicles. The hair shafts snap, leading to a black-dotted appearance around the scalp. You might also experience red rashes in other areas of the body at the same time. 

Ringworm is one of the most common fungal infections and can affect the scalp too. Red scaly patches that occur cause hair to fall and prevent new hair from growing too. However, ringworm is easily treatable with the help of antifungal medicines and once cured new hair can grow too.

The most common treatment procedure for this is to shave off the infected area and then go for a course of antifungal creams. They are very easy to treat if they are diagnosed early. 

  • Children are normally prescribed an oral anti-fungal called Griseofulvin to be used over a course of 2 months. This is however not to be used by adults as it could have harmful side effects.
  • Terbinafine is suggested for adults and this could help resolve the problem in a month.
  • Anti-fungal shampoos mixed in the ratio of 2% ketoconazole and 1% selenium sulphide content can be used twice a week for an early resolution of your problems. 

Though an early cure cannot be expected it is important to take effective remedial measures to ensure that the condition does not happen again.

Ayurvedic therapies can also offer effective remedies for all such infections but need to be based on body type and constitution. A good concoction of herbs and oil massage on the scalp would go a long way in solving your infection issues.


While a person could recover from a mild case of bacterial infections without prolonged treatment, some more infectious forms may lead to more complications. That is why an early diagnosis is so very important to establish the cause and ensure that the proper course of treatment is followed. Do opt for Traya’s FREE Hair Test to get a proper diagnosis of your hair and scalp issues so that our experts can facilitate the smooth and convenient resolution of your hair problems


Q1 - Can Bacterial Infection Cause Your Hair To Fall Out?

Ans - Yes, bacterial infections like Folliculitis Decalvans could lead to inflammation of your hair follicles and scalp and lead to hair fall and scarring over time. It could also lead to permanent hair loss and scarring as a result of cicatricial alopecia.

Q2 - What Illness Is Linked To Hair Loss?

Ans - When you have alopecia, your immune system tends to attack your hair follicles and cause baldness. Research indicates that people who have conditions such as Atopic Dermatitis, Asthma, thyroid diseases, hay fever, Down’s syndrome, or Vitiligo are more at risk of alopecia areata. 

Q3 - What Parasites Cause Hair Thinning?

Ans - Certain invasive organisms such as fungi and parasites can cause hair loss. This is because they lead to a loss of body nutrients and make you undernourished. There is also a head louse which is found on human hair and feeds on blood at least 4-5 times a day, leading to weaker follicles and a greater risk of hair loss. 

Q4 - What Kind Of Fungus Causes Hair Loss?

Ans - Fungal agents known as trichomycoses can cause hair infections. The 3 main types are Dermatophytes, Malassezia and Piedra.


Zahra Lokhandwala

Hair Coach

Zahra is the hair coach-in-chief at Traya. She works closely with the doctors to monitor all cases. She is a fitness freak and has not touched sugar in years!

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