Can a Food Allergy Cause Scalp Folliculitis?

Young woman checking appearance in hall mirror, side view
woman itching scalp while looking in the mirror (Image: John Howard/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Food allergies are widely misunderstood. Approximately 25 percent of adults believe that they have food allergies, while in reality only 2 percent of adults actually have professionally diagnosed food allergies, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Between 4 percent and 8 percent of children also have them. Food allergies can cause many painful and frightening reactions in the people who have them, but scalp folliculitus is not one of them.

Food Allergy Facts

Most food allergies are caused by the same foods, including almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, citrus fruits, corn, crab, cow’s milk, eggs, fish, hazelnuts, lobster, oysters, peanuts, pecans, shrimp, walnuts and wheat. When you're allergic to a certain food, your body reacts as though some substance in that food is harmful to you and releases histamines to fight it. This is a more severe reaction than the ones caused by a food intolerance, and can be fatal if not treated immediately.

Scalp Folliculitus

All of the hairs on your body grow out of pore-like holes called follicles. Folliculitus is an inflammation of the follicle. This can be caused by friction, like from a hat or hatband, or from breaking the hair off below the skin when waxing or shaving. Scalp folliculitus occurs on your scalp. Once the follicle is inflamed, it often becomes infected --by bacteria or by a fungus.

Misconceptions

Food allergies can exacerbate eczema, which can appear anywhere on your body. If you have food allergies and eczema on you scalp, you could easily mistake it for scalp folliculitus. The best way to be certain is to see your health care provider. Getting a professional diagnosis also ensures that you choose the safest and most effective treatment.

Treatments

The most effective treatment for food allergies is to avoid the food that you are allergic to. This can be tricky, especially with a wheat or corn allergy, because so many prepared foods contain wheat, corn or both. Reading labels and preparing as many meals as possible from scratch can help you to avoid your particular allergens. Scalp folliculitus is generally treated with hot compresses. Once your physician determines that you have an infection, and whether it is bacterial or fungal, she can prescribe an oral or topical antibiotic or antifungal treatment.

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