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Scalp Yeast Infection: Causes, Symptoms, and Remedies

Written by Ross Goodhart
Scalp Yeast Infection: Causes, Symptoms, and Remedies

Everyone talks about the importance of keeping your body healthy and your organs in top performance. But too often, we ignore our largest organ: the skin. More specifically, the scalp. So if you haven’t been thinking about your scalp’s health, it’s better late than never, right? 

Our scalp is home to 100,000 follicles that grow hair and produce sebum to moisturize the scalp. When something is amiss, scalp problems, such as dandruff or dryness, can creep in. Sometimes, an infection can appear and wreak havoc on our heads. 

A scalp yeast infection is a bothersome but common condition accompanied by itching, flaky skin, and patchiness. 

In this guide, you’ll find the causes, symptoms, and remedies for a scalp yeast infection.

What Causes a Scalp Yeast Infection?

Plenty of people think yeast infections just happen…down there. But the truth is that it can also invade other places on your body, even places like your armpits.  

That’s because yeast infections are caused by an overgrowth of fungi called Candida and Malassezia. Both naturally reside on your skin — the darker and warmer the environment, the merrier, at least for these pesky fungi.

That’s where the scalp comes in. Your scalp, just like the other skin on your body, has a mixture of perfectly normal and healthy bacteria and fungi in its microbiome. And yes, that includes Candida and Malassezia

They only become a problem when they’re allowed to grow amuck. And when they do, it can turn into scalp discomfort in many forms, including scalp yeast infections. 

These are a few things that can contribute to a scalp yeast infection: 

  • Using hair products with harsh chemical ingredients and irritants

  • Cuts on the scalp

  • Hot and humid weather 

  • Excessive sweating on the scalp

  • Skin conditions like psoriasis, dermatitis, or follicular occlusion syndrome 

  • Low immunity

  • Hyperthyroidism 

If you like wearing hats or scarves, you might be guilty of wearing them repeatedly without washing them. But the dark and moist environment is oh-so-inviting for a fungal infection to grow. 

Your chances of encountering this type of yeast infections may increase if you are pregnant, getting cancer treatment, taking antibiotics or steroids, eating too much sugar, not having a properly balanced diet, or are under a lot of stress. 

What Are the Symptoms of a Scalp Yeast Infection?

Worried about a scalp yeast infection and wondering if your symptoms match up? Grab a mirror and this list. We’ve got you covered.

  • Moist and soft areas on the scalp

  • Yellow or greasy patches 

  • Red or purple patches

  • Flaky, dead skin that looks like scales

  • Hair and skin shedding

  • Pus-filled pimples

If the infection spreads, you may notice the presence of oral thrush, mouth lesions, digestive problems, urinary tract issues, and even sinus pain. The worst cases of scalp yeast infections can cause hair loss if left untreated, but most infections are just annoying at their worst. 

Can I Give Someone a Scalp Yeast Infection? 

It’s not likely, no. However, try not to rub your scalp to prevent further irritation (yes, even if it itches a lot), and remember to always wash your hands after touching your scalp.

If someone in your family or friend group has a low-performing immune system, take extra caution to avoid giving it to them since they are more susceptible to infections.

Since transmission is unlikely,your main concern should be treating your infection so you can feel better ASAP. The less you mess with your scalp, the quicker you’ll return to feeling like you. 

Remedies for a Scalp Yeast Infection

First, you must confirm you have a scalp yeast infection. Because so many scalp conditions share symptoms, it can be very difficult to distinguish between extreme dandruff, ringworm, or something else.

Take this as your opportunity to make an appointment with your primary care physician or dermatologist. Because the scalp is part of your skin, a dermatologist should be able to identify a scalp yeast infection fairly quickly by gathering a sample from your scalp and observing it under a microscope.

They may recommend an antifungal medication if they confirm a yeast infection. Antifungal medications can be easily found in drug stores or prescribed. 

They come in several forms, including shampoos, ointments, and foams — only use as directed for the best results. Remember, using more does not mean more effective. Overusing may even make the problem worse. 

When researching, you may come across the suggestion to use apple cider vinegar or coconut oil on your scalp to improve symptoms. While some people may want to try a more natural approach to treating their infections, home remedies may do more harm than good. 

Research is limited on these approaches, and you should always consult your physician to ensure home remedies will not react negatively with any medications or other conditions you may have. If your OTC or prescribed methods aren’t working, return to your doctor instead of taking on the problem yourself.

Once properly addressed, your infection should disappear within two to eight weeks with the consistent and correct treatment. If nothing improves or your infection gets worse, contact your doctor immediately. 

Am I Gross for Having a Scalp Yeast Infection?

Absolutely not. If your scalp acts up and is prone to problems, you’re part of a large population of people struggling to keep their scalp in line — like, a billion people (literally). 

Some people are more likely to have issues with their scalps that have nothing to do with their overall cleanliness. There will always be fungus among us, but that doesn’t mean we must tolerate it taking over our scalps. 

Your scalp, just like the other skin on your body, has a mixture of perfectly normal and healthy bacteria and fungi in its microbiome.

How Can I Avoid Getting a Scalp Yeast Infection Again?

If you’ve had a scalp infection, we doubt you’d want another one. 

Here’s how to avoid it:

1. Good Diet

Good nutrition and hygiene should always be a priority. But you should especially take care not to feed another infection with excess sugar consumption or a generally unbalanced diet. That means that eating one piece of fruit isn’t going to balance out three fun-size bags of chips (bummer, we know). 

You should also ensure you get all the necessary vitamins and minerals to keep your body in top performance. Vitamins and minerals that benefit hair and skin directly also benefit your scalp, such as vitamin B, zinc, omega-3s, probiotics, and antioxidants. Take a daily supplement that will ensure you’re getting the vitamins and nutrients you need to maintain a healthy, balanced scalp. We’ve formulated our Daily Scalp Essential with key ingredients like vitamin B7 (biotin), zinc, and aminos to promote a healthy scalp. Below we detail some of the most important nutrients for scalp health:

Vitamin B, especially B7 (also called biotin), is responsible for creating healthy red blood cells that deliver nutrients and oxygen directly to the scalp. We’ve included it as a key ingredient in our Daily Scalp Essential. It can also be found in rice, eggs, sweet potatoes, and almonds.

Zinc is found in many breakfast cereals (especially whole grain and low or no sugar varieties), dairy products, shellfish like oysters and lobster, red meat, and beans. If you have dietary restrictions, zinc can also be found as a dietary supplement or in certain topical products. 

Omega-3 Fatty Acids are found in plant oils (soybean and flaxseed oil), nuts and seeds (walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseed), and fish (mackerel, salmon, sardines, and tuna). You can also find them as an oral supplement. 

Probiotics can be taken as a supplement or found in foods like tempeh, kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, and yogurt. Remember that the best yogurt is free or low in sugar and contains plenty of active cultures. Not all yogurts are made the same, so check the nutritional facts before purchasing.

Want plenty of antioxidants? Fill your diet with delicious fruits and veggies. Whether you eat them plain or as a part of a meal, you can never go wrong with eating fresh produce. 

2. Drink More Water

Staying hydrated helps the entire body, so never underestimate the power of proper hydration for your scalp. If you frequently have a dry scalp, it could be because your body lacks enough water to moisturize it.

Time to do some math. You should drink at least an ounce of water for every pound you weigh. Calculate how much water you should be drinking. Keep an eye on your water intake and adjust as necessary. 

3. Properly Wash and Dry Your Headwear

If you’re able to, only wear a hat or scarf occasionally. If it’s a necessary part of your wardrobe, remember to wash them properly and give your head some time to air out to prevent excess moisture from making an appearance. All hats and scarves should be completely dry before wearing them again. 

4. Washing Your Hair the Correct Way

Everyone is different, and that includes their hair and scalp type. Could you be over-washing or under-washing your hair? If it gets oily quickly, that could mean you need to wash it more often. If it is naturally dryer, you may be over-washing it and stripping it of the natural oils it needs to stay moisturized. 

You may also be too rough on your scalp when washing it. During a shower, gentle massaging of the scalp is important to avoid tiny scratches that leave it vulnerable to infections. A specially designed scalp brush is a helpful tool to safely massage your shampoo and conditioner into your scalp. 

Your shower’s temperature also matters. We know people love either extremely hot or cold showers, but the best option for your skin and hair strands is a lukewarm temperature.

5. Manage Other Skin Conditions

If you’re already prone to issues and have been diagnosed with a skin condition, you are more likely to develop a scalp yeast infection. This can include eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, or follicular occlusion syndrome.  

Consulting with a dermatologist can help you keep other skin conditions under control so that you don’t see flare-ups of symptoms or develop other issues. They may prescribe medication to help you manage your condition. 

6. Manage Stress

Stress doesn’t just affect you mentally. The truth is that the more stress you allow, the more likely your whole body will suffer the consequences of it. When stressed, your body cannot effectively protect itself from pathogens and other bad things that can disrupt your health. 

The more stress you have, the more androgen your scalp produces, making it overly oily. These oils attract bacteria like yeast to grow. From there, you can expect more flakiness and itching. 

Managing your stress means eating healthy, creating healthy boundaries in your life, and including meditative practices and exercises to keep your mental state in balance. If your stress is unmanageable with routine changes, consider talking with your doctor and a mental health professional about a regimen that can work.

7. The Right Hair Products

You should also invest in quality scalp health products that won’t irritate your scalp or disrupt its fragile ecosystem. The scalp’s microbiome is a big part of hair health, so keeping it healthy means healthier hair. 

While plenty of products exist to support a healthier scalp, not all of them are built the same. Some have harsh ingredients and unhealthy chemicals. Avoid sulfates, parabens, phthalates, and formaldehyde, which can irritate sensitive skin and strip hair of oils. 

Instead, look for shampoos, conditioners, and other scalp care products with safe active ingredients such as Zinc Pyrithione paired with natural, nutrient-rich ingredients to support scalp health.

Zinc Pyrithione actively targets the fungus Malassezia to ensure your scalp remains balanced and flake free. That’s why we’ve included it in our Balancing Shampoo to help fight dandruff, and our Restoring Serum to control oil production between washes.

Our scalp quiz can help you gain insight into which Jupiter products will work best for you. Check it out!

Daily Scalp Essential
Daily Scalp Essential

For dandruff-related hair loss, look no further. This must-have supplement is formulated with some of the best plant-based ingredients Mother Earth has to offer. Key vitamins, minerals, and nutrients support hair growth, stronger hair, and a moisturized scalp.

The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice, nor is it a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician with any questions you may have about the information contained herein, as well as the risks or benefits of any treatment.