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  5. Scalp Infections: 6 Types And Ayurvedic Ways To Treat Them

Do you know your scalp can be a home to thousands of microorganisms? These microorganisms together form an ecosystem termed as ‘microbiome’[1], which is essential for your scalp health.

“A disruption in this ecosystem leads to a variety of scalp infections, which can range from mild to extremely serious conditions,” says Dr. Zeel, our Chief Ayurvedic Doctor at Vedix.

In this article, we tell you the most common scalp infections, their symptoms, and how you can treat them with medications and Ayurvedic remedies .

What Is Scalp Infection?

The microbiome of your scalp consists of both good and bad pathogens. As long as the bad bacteria and fungi are in a controlled range, it doesn’t cause any problem. But, when your scalp environment triggers an overgrowth of such bad bacteria and fungi especially with excess sebum production and lack of free flow of air, it leads to the development of scalp infection.

Also, the extremely moist scalp can attract other infection-causing pathogens, which are not generally a part of your scalp microbiome.

“In Ayurvedic terms, a scalp infection usually occurs when any of the tridoshas - Vata, Pitta, and Kapha are in an aggravated state. This in turn creates a favorable environment for microbial infections on your scalp,” says Dr. Zeel.

Hence, you need to understand the status of doshas in your body to identify the root cause of your scalp infection. This further helps you in proceeding with the line of treatments using dosha specific Ayurvedic herbs.

Common Types Of Scalp Infections

1. Ringworm Or Tinea Capitis

Ringworm is more common in children than in adults

treated tinea capitis fungal infection

Symptoms

Causes

Risk Factors

  • Ring shaped marks on your scalp
  • Red, itchy and scaly bald patches
  • Brittle hair
  • Mild fever
  • Dermatophytes fungi [2]
  • Poor hygiene
  • Sharing personal items such as towels, combs, pillows, etc. with infected persons.
  • Infected pets and cattle such as dogs, cats, pigs and horses can be transmitters.

Ayurvedic Treatments For Ringworm

As per Ayurveda, elevated Kapha and Pitta doshas contribute to the development of Ringworm on your scalp.

1. Herbal Home Remedies

A. Basil

Extract the juice by crushing about 10-12 leaves of basil leaves. Apply it over the affected areas on your scalp. Repeat it for ten days.

B. Turmeric

Prepare a turmeric paste by adding a little amount of water to a spoon of turmeric powder. Apply this paste in the affected area thrice a day until the infection heals.

C.Neem

Mix equal amounts of neem oil and jojoba oil. Apply it to the ringworm infected patches on your scalp at least twice a day.

2. Ayurvedic Medicines

  • Haridrakhand (vrihat)
  • Mahamarichyadi Taila
  • Dhurdhurapatradi taila(for external application)

Medical Treatments For Ringworm

  • Antifungal oral medicines such as Lamisil( terbinafine hydrochloride) and griseofulvin for six weeks.
  • Antifungal shampoo containing selenium sulfide or ketoconazole.

2. Scalp Psoriasis

Scalp Psoriasis is not a direct infection caused by the bacteria; rather it's an autoimmune reaction of your scalp skin to fight against other scalp infections.

psoriasis on hair dermatological diseases skin

Symptoms

Causes

Risk Factors

  • Red and bumpy patches
  • White-silvery scales
  • Flaking which resembles dandruff
  • Itchiness
  • Scalp irritation with soreness
  • Hair loss
  • Bleeding in some cases
  • Regeneration of your scalp skin cells at an abnormal rate.
  • Scalp infections caused by bacteria such as propionibacterium, streptococcus, corynebacterium and staphylococcus.
  • Heredity
  • Smoking and alcohol habits
  • Cold and dry weather conditions
  • Stress

Ayurvedic Treatments For Scalp Psoriasis

As per Ayurveda, elevated Vata and Kapha doshas in your body contribute to the development of scalp psoriasis.

1. Herbal Home Remedies

A. Oatmeal

Grind a cup of unflavored oats and add the powder to warm water in a big bowl. Now, slowly submerge your scalp into the bowl while you let the infected area soak in the water for about 15-20 minutes. Later, wash your scalp and hair using normal water.

B. Peppermint Oil

Add 3-4 drops of peppermint essential oil to 4-5 spoons of carrier oil such as coconut, jojoba, or almond oil. Massage the affected area with this oil the night before you wash your hair.

C. Aloe Vera

Apply the raw aloe vera gel directly onto your scalp on alternative days.

2. Ayurvedic Medicines

  • Guggulu Tiktaka kashayam
  • Maha Tiktaka kashayam
  • Panchatikta ghrita
  • Amritadi guggulu

Medical Treatments For Scalp Psoriasis

  • Topical corticosteroids.
  • Vitamin-D and A based medications.
  • Oral medications such as retinoids, methotrexate, or cyclosporine.
  • Shampoos that contain coal tar, clobetasol propionate, or salicylic acid.

3. Head Lice

Head lice are most common among school-going children.

lice animals that feed on blood

Symptoms

Causes

Risk Factors

  • Itchiness
  • Crawling sensation of lice over the scalp
  • Redness caused due to scratching
  • Tiny blood sucking insects called Pediculus humanus capitis
  • Moving in close proximity with the infected person
  • Sharing personal items such as pillows, combs, towels, hair accessories, etc.

Ayurvedic Home Remedies For Head Lice

A. Camphor

Dissolve about 10 gms of camphor in 100 ml of coconut oil by heating. Let the oil cool down and then apply it across your scalp the night before your hair wash.

B. Onion

Blend an onion into a fine paste by adding water or lemon juice and apply it thoroughly to your scalp. Wait for about 2 hours and then wash it off with a mild herbal shampoo. After your hair gets completely dry, use a lice comb to eliminate dead lice and nits from your scalp. Repeat this process twice a week for 2-3 months.

C.Tea Tree Oil

Add about 5ml of tea tree oil to 15-20 ml of coconut or almond oil. Massage your scalp properly with this oil and use a lice comb after an hour.

Vedix Tip: Always do a patch test before using tea tree oil as it may cause allergic reactions [3] in some people. Never use it directly instead mix it with any carrier oil.

D. Vacha (Sweet Flag)

Applying Vacha oil on your scalp regularly is one of the promising remedies to get rid of head lice naturally.

Medical Treatments For Head Lice

  • OTC drugs such as pyrethrin and dimethicone.
  • Lotions containing benzyl alcohol lotion and malathion (Ovide).
  • Ivermectin lotion.

A metagenomics analysis has revealed that human scalp hair can contain around 4,838 crore bacteria along with 1,220 transient bacteria. [4]

4. Dandruff

Dandruff is the most common infection among people in all age groups.

woman hair dandruff falling

Symptoms

Causes

Risk Factors

  • White flakes across your scalp, hair and shoulders
  • Itchiness
  • Scalp redness
  • Scalp dryness causes dry dandruff
  • Greasy scalp is noticed in cases of oily dandruff
  • Fungus called malassezia which feeds on your dead skin flakes and sebum.
  • Dry or humid weather conditions
  • Hair dyes
  • Chemical hair care products that disrupts your scalp pH
  • Unhygienic maintenance of scalp

Ayurvedic Treatments For Dandruff

According to Ayurveda, dry dandruff is the consequence of aggravated Vata and Pitta doshas in the body. Oily dandruff is experienced when there is an elevation in both Kapha and Vata levels in the body.

1. Herbal Home Remedies

A. Oil Treatments

Massaging your scalp twice or thrice a week with any of the following Ayurvedic oils based on your elevated doshas can cure your dandruff condition effectively.

  • Bhringaraja taila
  • Chemparuthyadi taila
  • Dhurdhurapatradi taila
  • Nalpamaradi taila
  • Triphaladi taila

B. Amalaki (Indian Gooseberry)

Put 2-3 spoons of amla powder and 10 leaves of tulsi leaves in a blender. Prepare a smooth paste by adding an adequate amount of water. Apply this paste across your scalp and leave it for 45 minutes. Later, wash your scalp and hair with a mild shampoo.

C. Yashtimadhu (Licorice)

Add 1 spoon of licorice root to 1 ½ cups of water and boil it on low flame for 15 minutes. Let it cool for a while and strain the decoction later. Add a few drops of any hair oil of your choice to the decoction and massage your scalp with it for a few minutes. Leave it overnight and wash it off with normal water the next morning. Repeat this process twice a week.

D. Japa (Hibiscus)

Boil 5 hibiscus flowers. Prepare a thick paste by churning the flowers. Add 2-3 spoons of coconut oil to the paste. Apply the mask across your scalp and leave it for an hour. Later, wash your scalp thoroughly with lukewarm water.

2. Ayurvedic Internal Medications

  • Saptamrit loha
  • Bhringrajasava
  • Chandanasava
  • Narasimha rasayanam

Medical Treatments For Dandruff

  • Medicated shampoos containing salicylic acid, coal tar, zinc pyrithione, ketoconazole, or selenium sulfide.

5. Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis is called a ‘cradle cap’ [5] when it occurs in infants.

seborrheic dermatitis on head baby newborn

Symptoms

Causes

Risk Factors

  • Dry or greasy yellow flaking of the scalp skin
  • Itchiness
  • Redness of scalp
  • Overactive sebaceous glands accompanied by infestations of skin mites such as demodex brevis and demodex folliculorum, which feed on sebum
  • Cold and dry weather
  • Heredity
  • Stress
  • Medical conditions such as depression, parkinson's disease, immunity deficiency, etc.
  • Medications that contain psoralen, interferon and lithium

Ayurvedic Home Remedies For Seborrheic Dermatitis

Ayurveda classifies seborrheic dermatitis under Vata and Kapha disorders.

The vitiation in Kapha and Vata doshas can also cause an imbalance in Pitta levels in your body, which results in inflammation.

A. Lemon

Add 1 spoon of coconut oil to 2 spoons of lemon juice and mix it well. Apply the mixture to your scalp and leave it for half an hour. Later, wash your hair using a mild herbal shampoo.

B. Apple Cider Vinegar

Dilute apple cider vinegar and apply it to your scalp. Let the infected area soak in the apple cider vinegar solution for 20-30 minutes. Then, wash your scalp properly using normal water.

C. Cedarwood Oil

Add 3-4 drops of cedarwood essential oil into 2-3 spoons of any carrier oil. Apply this oil to your scalp and massage for a few minutes. Wash your hair with a mild herbal shampoo after half an hour.

Medical Treatments For Seborrheic Dermatitis

  • Shampoos that contain zinc pyrithione, ketoconazole, coal tar, or selenium sulfide.
  • An oral medication of corticosteroids.
  • Topical lotions containing calcineurin inhibitors and pimecrolimus.

6. Scalp Folliculitis

close photo nevus sebaceus on scalp

Symptoms

Causes

Risk Factors

  • Staphylococcus bacteria
  • Pseudomonas bacteria
  • Yeast infection
  • Cold and dry weather
  • Sharing personal items such as clothes, soaps and towels cause microbial transmission
  • Shaving, waxing or plucking can cause inflammation in the follicles
  • Immune deficiency

Ayurvedic Treatments For Scalp Folliculitis

As per Ayurveda, scalp folliculitis is a Pitta dosha disorder, which can be healed by bringing the elevated Pitta levels to a balanced state.

1. Herbal Home Remedies

A. Triphala Churna

Prepare a fine paste by mixing Triphala churna into a cup of sour buttermilk. Use this paste as a natural hair cleanser.

B. Vetiver

Soak vetiver roots in a clay pot containing lukewarm water for a few hours.

Add 2-3 lemon slices into the pot and use this decoction to wash your scalp and hair regularly.

2. Ayurvedic Medicines

  • Rakta pachak and faltrikadi combination
  • Avipattikar
  • Gandharva haritaki
  • Sutshekhar

Medical Treatments For Scalp Folliculitis

  • Antibiotic ointments such as mupirocin or neosporin.
  • Topical corticosteroids.
  • Antifungal shampoos containing ciclopirox, ketoconazole, etc.
  • Antihistamines in case of severe pain or itching.

Important Note:

Please consult your Ayurvedic doctor before opting any of the Ayurvedic remedies mentioned in this article. Your Ayurvedic doctor can prescribe you the most suitable formulation and dosage by examining your dosha levels and the severity of the condition.

Also, do not administer any of the medical treatments mentioned in this article without seeking your doctor’s advice.

The Last Word

Scalp infections are curable with effective Ayurvedic remedies and medical treatments.. Besides, uncontrollable allergy and inflammation on your scalp, these infections may also cause hair fall, further leading to scarring hair loss. Identifying your scalp condition in the mild stage and undergoing the appropriate treatment can help you recover soon.. Keeping your doshas in a balanced state has a significant role in preventing as well as healing your scalp from infections. At Vedix, we evaluate your doshas and present you with a customized Ayurvedic hair care regimen to treat your unique hair and scalp problems.

Know Your Dosha Now

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