What are Scalp Yeast Infections?

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Scalp yeast infection, also known as tinea capitis, is a fungal infection of the scalp that is caused by a group of fungi known as dermatophytes. This condition is common in children but can affect people of all ages. It can cause a range of symptoms, including itching, scaling, and hair loss. On this page, we will provide all information about scalp yeast infection.

What causes a scalp yeast infection?

Scalp yeast infections are caused by an overgrowth of the fungus Malassezia, which is naturally present on the skin. Malassezia feeds on the oils produced by the scalp, and under certain conditions, it can multiply rapidly and cause an infection. Some of the factors that can contribute to the development of a scalp yeast infection include:

Oily scalp

An oily scalp provides an ideal environment for the growth of Malassezia. This can be caused by hormonal changes, certain medications, or even genetics.

Poor hygiene

Poor hygiene, such as infrequent hair washing, can lead to the buildup of dead skin cells and oils on the scalp, providing a favorable environment for the growth of Malassezia.

Excessive sweating

Sweat can also contribute to the growth of Malassezia, particularly in areas where the sweat glands are more active, such as the scalp.

Immune system problems

People with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS or cancer, are more susceptible to scalp yeast infections.

Certain medications

Certain medications, such as antibiotics and steroids, can disrupt the balance of bacteria and fungi on the scalp, leading to an overgrowth of Malassezia.


Stress can weaken the immune system and make a person more susceptible to infections, including scalp yeast infections.

What are the symptoms of scalp yeast infection?

The symptoms of a scalp yeast infection can vary from person to person, but some of the most common symptoms include:


Itching is a common symptom of scalp yeast infections, and it can be mild to severe.


Flaking or scaling of the scalp is another common symptom of scalp yeast infections. The flakes may be white or yellow in color.


The affected area of the scalp may appear red and inflamed.

Greasy or oily scalp

The scalp may appear greasy or oily, even after washing.

Hair loss

In severe cases, hair loss or bald patches may occur.


In some cases, the affected area of the scalp may become crusted or scabbed.

Foul odor

A foul odor may be present on the scalp due to the overgrowth of yeast and bacteria.

How is a scalp yeast infection diagnosed?

A scalp yeast infection can be diagnosed by a doctor or dermatologist through a physical examination of the scalp and a medical history review. During the examination, the doctor may look for the following signs and symptoms:

  1. Redness, scaling, or crusting of the scalp
  2. Itching or burning sensations
  3. Hair loss or bald patches
  4. Flaking or scaling of the skin on the scalp
  5. Oily or greasy scalp

In some cases, the doctor may take a skin scraping or hair sample from the affected area to examine under a microscope or send to a lab for culture. This can help to confirm the presence of the fungus Malassezia, which is responsible for causing scalp yeast infections.

How to prevent Scalp Yeast Infection?

Some of the important steps you can take to help prevent scalp yeast infections include:

  1. Keep your scalp clean
  2. Avoid sharing personal items
  3. Avoid using hair products with harsh chemicals
  4. Manage stress levels
  5. Keep your scalp dry
  6. Maintain a healthy diet

How is a scalp yeast infection treated?

Scalp yeast infections can be treated with antifungal medications, which can be prescribed by a doctor. The treatment usually involves using topical antifungal agents or oral medications.

Topical antifungal agents

These are usually applied directly to the affected area and include shampoos, creams, and gels. The most commonly used topical antifungal agents for scalp yeast infections include ketoconazole, selenium sulfide, and ciclopirox.

Oral medications

In more severe cases, oral antifungal medications may be prescribed. The most commonly used oral antifungal medications for scalp yeast infections include fluconazole, itraconazole, and terbinafine.

Final Word

If you suspect that you have a scalp yeast infection, It is important to seek medical attention as it can become more serious if left untreated. A doctor can diagnose a scalp yeast infection and recommend appropriate treatment. Early diagnosis and treatment can help to prevent complications and reduce the risk of the infection spreading to other areas of the body.

If you or your loved one is facing well-defined baldness or hair thinning, can opt for hair replacement surgery, it is one of the best options for those with limited hair loss due to scalp injuries or repeated cosmetic procedures.

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