Information and Solutions for Men and Women

Fungal Infection and Hair Loss

Ringworm is a fungal infection that can cause patchy hair loss.

Tinea Capitis—Fungal Infection and Hair Loss Tinea capitis is a fungal infection of the scalp (commonly referred to as ringworm of the scalp) that causes dry, scaly lesions and patchy alopecia areata type of hair loss. It is the most common fungal infection in young children, and is usually caused by Microsporum canis and Trichophyton tonsurans.145-146

Symptoms can include:76, 146

  • Sharply localized patches of hair loss (usually broken off at the scalp) and scaly dry plaque; non-inflammatory (common)
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the front and back of the neck
  • Hair broken off at or close to scalp, creating a black dotted appearance (uncommon)
  • Red, inflamed, and scaly lesions on the scalp that progresses to thick yellow crusty lesions (sometimes with a foul smelling discharge) that involve the hair follicle and can lead to scarring hair loss
  • Kerion – a boggy, extremely painful, and inflamed lesion with foul smelling pus (may require surgical drainage) and hair that falls out as opposed to breaking; can lead to permanent, scarring hair loss

However, there are often cases that present with barely noticeable, mild symptoms or even none at all—these children are often asymptomatic carriers of the infection and should be treated with fungicidal shampoo.76, 146

Severe types or chronic, untreated tinea capitis hair loss can cause cicatricial alopecia. However, it is usually non-scarring and treatment almost always results in complete regrowth.22, 76

Medical, Herbal, & Nutritional Supplement Treatments for Tinea Capitis

Evolving changes in the predominant type of fungus may cause some difficulty in diagnosing tinea capitis since some species do not produce green fluorescence detectable with the Wood’s lamp (e.g., the most prevalent types now in the United States and Europe). However, it should always be considered in any child with scaling and patchy hair loss on the scalp, and diagnosis is confirmed with a fungal culture obtained with a moist cotton swab.146

Tinea capitis requires systemic treatment, and topical treatment is recommended. Typical remedies include:76, 145-146

  • Systemic oral antifungal agents (e.g., griseofulvin, itraconazole, ketoconazole, and fluconazole)
  • Oral steroid (e.g., prednisone) and antibiotics for painful kerion lesions
  • Topical steroids and oral antihistamines if a rash develops in response to antifungal agents
  • Anti-fungal shampoo (e.g., ketoconazole 2% or selenium sulfide shampoo)

There appears to be some drug-resistance developing in the fungal organisms, and experts strongly stress the importance of completing the full course of treatment (typically 6-8 weeks, but up to 12-16 weeks in resistant cases) to prevent recurrence.(146) It is also recommended that family members and pets be screened for infection, and pets treated if the particular fungus is determined to be Microsporum canis.145

Herbal Treatments for Tinea Capitis

Table 24: Herbal Remedies for Tinea Wapitis

HERBAL REMEDIES FOR TINEA CAPITIS

HERB

HOW IT WORKS

RECOMMENDED DOSAGE OR USE

CHAKRAMARDA

(Cassia tora)
  • Antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, and fungicidal properties.147
  • Works against resistant organisms such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus.147
Tablet form made of 1-3 grams of powdered seed147-148
5-15 mL medicinal tea147

Note: has abortificant properties; should NOT be used by pregnant women.147

PINK SHOWER

(Cassia grandis)
  • Antiseptic and fungicidal properties.147
Leaves are incorporated into an ointment for topical use in skin conditions (including tinea); consumed internally for other conditions but should NOT be used by pregnant women because of abortificant properties.147
CONCH FLOWER

(Evolvulus alsinoides)
Topical oil containing extracts and essential oils from the herb.148
GARLIC

(Allium sativa)
Steep some crushed garlic in olive oil and apply with a cotton ball.112
GINGER

(Zingiber officinale)
  • Contains 23 antifungal compounds, including the potent caprylic acid.112
  • Anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial.37
Add one ounce chopped ginger to a cup of boiling water and apply the cooled liquid to affected areas with a cotton ball.112
LICORICE

(Glycyrrhiza glabra)
  • Root of the attractive legume plant licorice (native to southern Europe and Asia) is used in traditional medicines for its antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties.112
Steep six teaspoons of powdered licorice in one cup of boiled water for twenty minutes and apply the cooled liquid to affected areas with a cotton ball.112
PILL-BEARING SPURGE

(Chamaesyce hirta)
  • Anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, and antiseptic properties.147
Applied topically; used to treat tinea and other skin conditions.147
TOMATO

(Lycopersicon esculentum)
  • Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and fungicidal properties; used in traditional medicines to treat ringworm.147
Add to your diet.147

Apply fresh juice from green or red tomatoes directly on scalp.147

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Interestingly, in the early 1900s it was primarily caused by M. audouinii.
The most severe form of tinea capitis.
Called sickle-pod senna in English, ayudham in Sanskrit.
Also called apple blossom cassia.
Also known as dwarf morning glory.
Be sure to never use any garlic soaked in oil for cooking unless commercially prepared with preservatives – it has been known to be a source of deadly botulism.
Also spelled liquorice.
Called Caá Cica in Brazil and Cat’s Hair in English.
Called fan shie in China, jitomate in Peru, and liebsapfel in Germany.