Saturday July 7 2018

Behind the itchy body and flaky scalp

 Stress can lead to an increase in yeast growth

Stress can lead to an increase in yeast growth, resulting in fungal infections. Net photo. 

By Joan Salmon

After giving birth to her second child, Mercy started losing her hair. Because she went through a similar condition with her first child, she attributed her hair loss to breastfeeding. However, it was so severe that she decided to cut off her hair.

According to Dr. Fouzia Ashfaq, of Victoria hospital it is only among children that fungus causes a scalp infection. While the scalp fungal infection among children is contagious, seborrheic dermatitis is not and neither is it a sign of one being unhygienic.

This condition predominantly affects oily areas of the body. These include the scalp, face, back and chest.
It affects persons between adolescence and middle age because it is at this time in one’s life that the sweat glands are active. It is very rare among children and people of old age.

It is also common in developing countries as well as regions that experience humid and hot weather because excessive development of yeast is triggered by hot or humid environment, and poor hygiene.

Children below one year can also get Seborrheic dermatitis; normally referred to as cradle cap. That is because they still have their mother’s hormones within their systems. It is advised to keep the scalp oiled and wash using baby shampoo. If it persists, see a dermatologist.

The condition affects five per cent of the population and there is a thin line between a disease and a normal infection.

Symptoms on the scalp;
Redness and scaling of scalp that can preset in mild and oily forms. In mild form called dandruff, one gets dry flaky brawny scales begin with small patches and then cover whole scalp.

In oily type, one gets redness and thick greasy crusts which can spread to upper border of forehead as red scales.
Symptoms on the face include; redness and greasy scales around eyebrows, edge of eyelids, ears, cheeks and nasal folds.

Symptoms on the chest include; lesions which start as redness in and around the hair follicles and spread to make clearly outlined lesions. Other times, it can be generalised red and scaly lesions. It mostly affects breast, breast folds, belly area, area between shoulder blades, umbilical region, groin region, and anal folds.

Dr Ogwang adds that overgrowth of the fungus is what leads to a skin infection locally known as oluwumu in one or more areas. However, those with excessively low immunity could have it all over their upper body.

Triggers of seborrheic dermatitis include Pityrosporum ovale; a type of fungus that is found on the skin lesions found on the scalp.

Stress
Recent studies have shown that elevated stress levels can cause yeast related infections.
When one is stressed, the body releases more of a hormone called Cortisol. This hormone can weaken the immune system. Simply being overworked, overtired, or stressed will cause an increase in yeast growth.

The hormone also causes elevated levels of blood sugar. Since yeast feeds off of sugar, it is able to grow much quicker than normal.

advertisement