Hair Treatment

How To Get Rid Of A Fungal Scalp Infection

Reviewed by Dr.K.Harish Kumar, MD.DVL
by
How To Get Rid Of A Fungal Scalp Infection Hyderabd040-395603080 September 4, 2019

Has your scalp been itching constantly? Do you come across flaking skin and pus-filled boils whenever you feel your scalp? You probably have a fungal scalp infection.

When the dead skin cells combine with oil and pollutants, it creates the perfect breeding ground for fungus. Such fungal infections are most often caused due to poor scalp hygiene, i.e., not washing your hair regularly. Use of styling products and other harsh chemicals on your hair can worsen such infections.

To know a little more about a fungal scalp infection, its natural treatment options, and how to prevent it, read on.

What Is A Fungal Scalp Infection?

A scalp fungus infection, as the term suggests, is a fungal infection in the scalp. Certain types of harmless fungi exist on your skin. When provided with appropriate environmental conditions, these fungi can multiply and cause an infection.

Fungal infections can occur anywhere on or inside the body. But they are more common on the feet, fingernails, and scalp. Let’s take a look at the causes.

What Causes A Fungal Infection On The Scalp?

Candida is one of the most common types of fungus known to trigger infections. There are more than 20 species of Candida that have been identified. However, most Candida infections are caused by Candida albicans.

Some factors that can contribute to fungal growth on your skin and scalp are:

  • Certain medical conditions
  • An unhealthy diet
  • Stress
  • Presence of certain harsh chemicals in hair care products
  • Lack of personal hygiene
  • Cuts or injuries on the scalp
  • Sharing towels or hairbrush with people who have fungus in the scalp

How do you know if you have a fungal scalp infection? Take a look at the signs and symptoms listed below.

Signs And Symptoms

The common signs and symptoms of a fungal scalp infection are:

  • A reddish or purplish rash on the scalp that may flake
  • White flakes on the scalp that may also shed
  • Pus-filled white or yellow boils on the scalp
  • Soft, moist, and/or white patches on the scalp

Most fungal infections can be treated easily using over-the-counter treatments available in the form of shampoos, foams, and ointments. But if you are looking for natural alternatives to treat the infection, the list below will help.

8 Natural Remedies To Get Rid Of A Fungal Scalp Infection

1. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar Pinit

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You Will Need
  • 1 cup of apple cider vinegar (ACV)
  • 2 cups of water
What You Have To Do
  1. Add a cup of ACV to two cups of water.
  2. Rinse your hair with this solution.
How Often You Should Do This

You can do this 2-3 times a week.

Why This Works

Apple cider vinegar has antifungal properties (1). These properties may help in getting rid of the fungi causing the infection.

2. Lemon

Lemon Pinit

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You Will Need
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • 1 cup of water
What You Have To Do
  1. Add a teaspoon of lemon juice to a cup of water.
  2. Mix well and rinse your scalp with this mixture before you take a shower. Leave it on for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Go about your regular shower routine.
How Often You Should Do This

You can do this 2-3 times a week.

Why This Works

Lemons are citrus fruits with antimicrobial activities that may help treat a fungal scalp infection (2).

3. Baking Soda

Baking Soda Pinit

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You Will Need
  • 1 tablespoon of baking soda
  • 1 cup of water
What You Have To Do
  1. Add a tablespoon of baking soda to a cup of water.
  2. Mix well and add the solution to your shampoo.
  3. Massage it into your scalp for a few minutes.
  4. Rinse thoroughly with water.
How Often You Should Do This

You can do this multiple times a week.

Why This Works

Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate as it is popularly known, exhibits antifungal activity (3). Hence, it can prove to be effective in treating scalp fungus.

4. Neem Oil

Neem Oil Pinit

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You Will Need
  • 2 teaspoons of neem oil
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
What You Have To Do
  1. Add two teaspoons of neem oil to a tablespoon of coconut oil.
  2. Mix well and apply it to your scalp and hair.
  3. Leave it on for at least 30-60 minutes before rinsing it off with a mild shampoo.
How Often You Should Do This

You may do this 2-3 times a week.

Why This Works

Neem oil shows antifungal activity due to the presence of niminol (4). This can help in dealing with a fungal scalp infection.

5. Castor Oil

Castor Oil Pinit

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You Will Need
  • 1 tablespoon of cold-pressed castor oil
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
What You Have To Do
  1. Take a tablespoon each of cold-pressed castor oil and coconut oil.
  2. Mix well and apply it to the scalp. Spread the remaining oil onto the rest of your hair.
  3. Leave it on for 30 minutes or more.
  4. Rinse your hair with a mild shampoo and condition it.
How Often You Should Do This

You can do this 1-2 times a week.

Why This Works

Castor oil contains ricinoleate, which imparts powerful antifungal properties to it and can help you get rid of the fungi causing the infection (5).

6. Tea Tree Essential Oil

Tea Tree Essential Oil Pinit

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You Will Need
  • 3-4 drops of tea tree oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil
What You Have To Do
  1. Add two to three drops of tea tree oil to one to two tablespoons of coconut oil.
  2. Mix well and apply it to your scalp and hair.
  3. Leave it on for 30-60 minutes and rinse it off with a mild cleanser.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this at least twice a week.

Why This Works

Tea tree oil exhibits antifungal actions and has membrane-altering effects on fungi (6).

7. Garlic

Garlic Pinit

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You Will Need
  • 2-3 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut or olive oil
What You Have To Do
  1. Crush two to three cloves of peeled garlic.
  2. Add the crushed garlic to two tablespoons of coconut/olive oil and heat it for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Strain the oil out.
  4. Apply the oil to the scalp and hair.
  5. Leave it on for 1-2 hours before rinsing it off with a mild shampoo.
How Often You Should Do This

You may do this 1-2 times a week.

Why This Works

Garlic possesses significant inhibitory effects against fungi, which may be effective in treating a fungal scalp infection (7).

8. Coconut Oil

Coconut Oil Pinit

Shutterstock

You Will Need

1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil

What You Have To Do
  1. Massage coconut oil gently into your scalp. Leave it on for 1-2 hours.
  2. Rinse it off with a mild cleanser and condition your hair.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this at least once a week.

Why This Works

Coconut oil exhibits excellent antifungal activities and is also one of the best oils for healthy hair growth (8).

These remedies help you in getting rid of the fungal infection in your scalp. But you may also have to make a few lifestyle changes to prevent the infection from recurring. The following prevention tips might help.

How To Prevent A Fungal Scalp Infection

  • Bathe regularly and practice healthy hygiene.
  • Keep your scalp dry and clean.
  • Follow a well-balanced and healthy diet.
  • Limit your intake of starchy and sugary foods.
  • Limit alcohol intake.
  • Do not go overboard with antibiotics and steroids.
  • Allow your scalp to breathe by limiting the use of hats, caps, or scarves.

While scalp infections are quite common, they are also easily treatable. By following the remedies discussed above regularly and taking the required precautions, you can not only treat the infection but also prevent its recurrence.

However, if you are dealing with a severe fungal infection like ringworm, it is best to get yourself treated by a medical professional to prevent further complications like hair loss. In such situations, you can use the above remedies to assist the ongoing medical treatments.

Hope this post helped address your queries regarding a fungal scalp infection. For any more doubts, get in touch with us in the comments box below.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

Can candida cause hair loss?

Yes. If you are dealing with a fungal scalp infection, your scalp might have accumulated a lot of dead skin cells and flakes. Scratching the affected area frequently or using drying hair products on it can cause some hair loss.

What kind of shampoo should you use for hair fungus?

There are some medicated over-the-counter antifungal shampoos available that can prevent the spread of hair fungus. However, if you are looking for natural alternatives, any of the above remedies will do the trick.

Is dandruff a fungus?

Dr.K.Harish Kumar, MD, DVL says that while dandruff itself is not a fungus, it is caused by a naturally-occurring fungus called Malassezia globosa.

How to grow your hair back after a scalp fungal infection?

Some fungal scalp infections can cause an increase in hair fall. However, after successful treatment, your hair should grow back in 6-12 months.

My hair smells when wet. Is this a fungus?

If your hair always smells when wet, it is most probably due to the presence of a fungus called mildew. When the hair is left damp and tied for extended periods, it can lead to the development of mildew. Sweating excessively can also cause this fungal growth.

Should I completely shave my head to get rid of dandruff? Will it help fight against fungus problem?

No, shaving your hair will not help dandruff. Instead, if you oil and wash your hair more regularly and follow the remedies discussed above religiously, you will notice fungal scalp infections like dandruff disappearing.

When to see a doctor for a fungal scalp infection?

According to Dr. K. Harsish Kumar, MD DVL, you need to see a doctor immediately if:
• The scalp appears unusually colored or scaly.
• You notice hair loss in patches.
• The scalp itches and/or bleeds.

What is the difference between ringworm of the scalp and a scalp yeast infection?

Both ringworm and yeast infections are fungal growths that can occur in the scalp. While a scalp yeast infection may cause an increase in hair loss due to the accumulating dead skin cells on the scalp, ringworm may result in itchy and scaly round patches in the scalp with some bald spots. Other symptoms of both these fungal infections are almost the same – like a flaky, itchy, or discolored scalp.

References

  1. Antifungal Activity of Apple Cider Vinegar on Candida Species Involved in Denture Stomatitis.” Journal of Prosthodontics, US National Library Of Medicine.
  2. Phytochemical, antimicrobial, and antioxidant activities of different citrus juice concentrates” Food, Science and Nutrition, US National Library Of Medicine.
  3. Antifungal activity of sodium bicarbonate against fungal agents causing superficial infections.” Mycopathologia, US National Library Of Medicine.
  4. Antifungal activity of different neem leaf extracts and the nimonol against some important human pathogens” Brazilian Journal Of Microbiology, US National Library Of Medicine.
  5. Synthesis and evaluation of antioxidant and antifungal activities of novel ricinoleate-based lipoconjugates of phenolic acids.” Food Chemistry, US National Library Of Medicine.
  6. Antifungal effects of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil and its components on Candida albicans, Candida glabrata and Saccharomyces cerevisiae.” Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, US National Library Of Medicine.
  7. Antifungal effects of Allium sativum (garlic) extract against the Aspergillus species involved in otomycosis.” Letters in Applied Microbiology, US National Library Of Medicine.
  8. In vitro antimicrobial properties of coconut oil on Candida species in Ibadan, Nigeria” Journal of Medicinal Food, US National Library Of Medicine.

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