In the 2nd part of this series, we will talk about the influence of a combination of hereditary and scalp infections on hair loss.

Q 1. What are the types of scalp infections seen?

We can divide these into 3 categories- bacterial, fungal and parasitical. Bacterial infections often cause the appearance of boils on the head, resembling pimples, which break and ooze out pus. While it can be a bothersome condition, for the boils can be rather painful, they do not however cause hair loss in most cases. The common parasitical infections are lice infestations, which cause much itching, but again do not cause hair loss. Fungal infections on the other hand not only cause much itching and irritation, but can cause quite a bit of hair loss as well. The hair fall can be all over the head (seen in Malassezia infections) or in round patches (known as Tinea infections)

Q2. Which type of infection occurs more commonly with hereditary hair loss?

That would be the fungal infections. One reason for this is that a lot of patients with hereditary hair loss also have excess oil secretion on their scalps, a substance called sebum. This is often a source of food for the fungal infections which then latch onto the scalp very easily and accelerate the hair fall. Thus while the regular baldness starts at a later age and proceeds slowly, with a complicating fungal infection, the whole thing can not only start early, but lead to baldness much faster.

Q3. How can one catch these infections?

Like many other infections, they are also airborne. Leave a piece of bread on the table for two days and there will be a fungal growth on it. There is a very interesting story of fungal infections and the Pharaoh’s tomb in Egypt. In the 1920’s when the Pharaoh Tutankhamen’s tomb was broken into by the archaeologists, they were warned by the natives, that there is curse on them and they would soon die. Being men of science they naturally did not believe in this, but strangely enough some of them did die, within the next few years. For a long time it was unexplained, until recently when it was found that they suffered from fungal infections of the lungs. Its seems the pharaohs tomb was airtight for 2000 years during which there was plenty of fungal growth in the tomb and the first few people who entered the tomb inhaled the contaminated air and died from it. That’s how tenacious fungal infections can be. I have treated patients who had it on the scalp for as long as 20-30 years together.

Dr Shahid Shamsher is India’s leading Trichologist certified from UK, Australia and India. He can be contacted at Dr Health Clinics at RT Nagar, Indiranagar, Jayanagar or Malleswaram on 42067474 to 76 or 23568290 to 94.

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