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Fungi

An Overview for the Hair Specialist

Living things on earth are classified as either animals, plants fungi, bacteria or protists. We are familiar with animals and plants as we see them everyday. The other groups are less familiar to most people. Certain fungi are relevant to the hair specialist. Some 6 million different species of fungi exist. Fungi survive by absorbing nutrients from the environment. They have cell walls made of a material call chitin. We are familiar with one type of fungus - mushrooms - but are less familiar with all the various yeasts and molds that exist.

There are many different fungi that can cause health problems in humans. Of the 6 million species of fungi, about 600 have the potential to cause health problems. As we have seen over the past week in various posts, fungi known as Malassezia are the cause of the common seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff. Fungi known as dermatophyte fungi are the cause of scalp tinea capitis (which is common is children). Fortunately, most people will never come to know another group of fungi known as "opportunistic fungi." These are fungi that cause serious and sometimes fatal disease in patients with a weakened immune system including cancer patients, patients with organ transplants, HIV patients, patients with low white blood cells (neutropenia). A variety of opportunistic fungi exist including Candida, Aspergillus and Mucor (3 most common).


Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss. To schedule a consultation, please call the Vancouver office at 604.283.9299



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