Fighting Mildew in Hair: A Complete Manual for Treatment and Prevention

Monali Sharma
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Kaushal

Review medical content on WOW Rx Pharmacy, so that accurate drug use information is easily accessible to everybody.
Dr. Akansha is a licensed Clinical Pharmacologist. She possesses remarkable knowledge in Pharmacovigilance, prescription analysis, drug information, and drug safety services. Additionally, she is a keen learner and an educator.

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mildew in hair

Mildew is a grayish, yellowish, or whitish fungus that generally grows on surfaces.

It is sometimes observed in the hair and on the scalp and can be a cause of worry.

However, it is important to note that mildew in hair is not a severe complication and can be managed easily.

In this comprehensive piece, let’s look at the causes, symptoms, prevention, and treatment of mildew in hair.

Can you get mildew in hair

Mildew is a type of fungus that typically grows in moist and humid environments.

It appears as a thin, powdery or fuzzy growth, commonly on surfaces such as walls, fabrics, or organic materials.

While it may sound unusual to associate mildew with hair, it can indeed happen, leading to various hair and scalp issues.

Mildew is often confused with mold. Though mildew and mold are both forms of fungi, mildew differs in being a distinct type of mold.


An unpleasant odor from the scalp frequently serves as the first sign of mildew in hair.

Hair with mildew can produce a distinct musty scent that may linger even after washing.

Another typical indication of mildew in hair is persistent itching and irritation.

Mildew can also contribute to an increased accumulation of dead skin cells, which may result in the formation of dandruff-like flakes.

Itchiness can make you scratch your head a lot, making the scalp look red and inflamed.

Furthermore, if mildew persists for an extended period, one may experience a sensation of heaviness and pain in the head.

What causes mildew in hair

The primary cause behind the development of mildew is moisture.

When damp hair is not allowed to dry thoroughly, it becomes susceptible to mildew growth.

Below are the factors that can contribute to the appearance of mildew in hair.

Poor hair hygiene

When hair is not adequately dried after washing or getting wet, the scalp remains moist for an extended period.

This prolonged moisture creates an optimal environment for the growth of microorganisms, including mildew.

Excessive sweating

Hair breakage due to sweatSource: StefanDahl
Sweating can cause hair breakage

Some individuals may have a higher tendency to sweat excessively on their scalp.

This can result in a continuous state of dampness on the scalp, which, as previously mentioned, creates a suitable environment for mildew to thrive.

Humid environments

Residing in areas with elevated humidity levels can increase an individual’s vulnerability to mildew growth in their hair.

The combination of a humid climate and inadequate hair drying increases the likelihood of mildew formation in the hair.

Treatment and prevention measures

Following the saying “Prevention is better than cure”, it is better not to let the mildew grow in the first place.

Here are some preventive measures you can incorporate into your hair care routine to avoid the occurrence of mildew.

Regular hair washing

To prevent mildew growth, it is important to regularly cleanse your hair and scalp using a shampoo that is suitable for your hair type.

Doing so will effectively eliminate excess oils, dirt, and sweat that can serve as a breeding ground for mildew.

Proper drying

After washing your hair, ensure it is thoroughly dried to eliminate any residual moisture that could encourage mildew formation.

Avoid leaving your hair wet for an extended period of time.

It is also recommended to refrain from going to bed with wet hair.

Use a blow dryer

Hair often takes significant time to dry naturally, and towel drying alone may not be sufficient sometimes.

Blow drying dries your hair completely, getting rid of all the moisture from the scalp.

Therefore, using a blow dryer is an effective way to thoroughly dry your hair, thus minimizing the odds of mildew growth.

If you already have mildew in your hair, preventive measures may not be sufficient to eliminate it.

You can consider the below measures to treat mildew in hair.

Antifungal shampoo

You can consider using antifungal shampoos to get rid of the mildew in your hair.

Look for shampoos containing Ciclopirox Olamine, Salicylic acid, and Ketoconazole.

These agents possess antifungal properties, and research supports their efficacy in fighting fungus.

To eliminate mildew, you may want to consider incorporating antifungal shampoos into your hair care routine.

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Natural Remedies

Tea tree oilSource: pixelshot
Tea tree oil

Patients often lean towards alternative therapies as they are commonly believed to have fewer side effects than conventional treatment options.

Apple Cider Vinegar(ACD) and Tea Tree Oil(TTO) can be good options for mildew in hair.

Both have anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties and can positively aid in combating mildew.

Salon visit

You can also consider visiting a professional hair salon for a deep cleansing and scalp detox.

As experts in their field, professional hair salons are well-versed in hair products, care methods, and their effectiveness on different hair types.

They can provide individualized advice to address mildew in hair. 

Medical Assistance

If the above doesn’t seem to be showing satisfactory results, it is advisable to see a dermatologist.

They may prescribe more potent antifungal medicines or topical creams to treat the mildew effectively.

Neglecting to address mildew for long can potentially result in an infection, which may cause swelling, scalp lesions, or blisters.


While it may sound unusual, mildew, a type of fungi, can grow in your hair.

A distinctly unpleasant smell and itchiness on your scalp can be an indication of mildew in your hair.

A warm and damp environment is a favorable condition for mildew development.

When hair is not dried properly, the moisture remains trapped in it, leaving your scalp damp for an extended period, thus exposing it to mildew growth.

You can use antifungal shampoos which contain proven antifungal agents such as Ciclopirox Olamine, Salicylic acid, and Ketoconazole to treat mildew in hair.

However, it is better to avoid the growth of mildew in the first place.

Proper hair cleansing and drying is the key to keeping your away resistant to mildew growth.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you treat mildew on your scalp?

Antifungal shampoos containing Ciclopirox Olamine, Salicylic acid, and ketoconazole can be considered for treating mildew in hair. Ensuring that the hair and scalp remain dry is also important, as these practices can aid treatment. Natural remedies such as tea tree oil or apple cider vinegar may also be worth considering. If the problem persists, seeking guidance from a dermatologist is advisable.

Can you get mildew on your scalp?

Mildew, a fungus that thrives in damp and humid conditions, appears thin, powdery, or fuzzy growth, typically on surfaces like walls, fabrics, or organic materials. While it may seem unusual, mildew can indeed grow on your scalp, resulting in itchiness and a musty odor.

Is mildew in hair bad?

Yes, mildew in hair can be bad. It can cause scalp irritation, itching, and an unpleasant smell. Mildew growth often indicates poor hygiene or underlying fungal infections, which should be addressed to prevent further complications. Appropriate treatment and proper hair care are advisable if mildew is present in the hair.

Can mildew cause hair loss?

Mildew itself is unlikely to directly cause hair loss. However, it can potentially contribute to hair loss if left unattended for long, as it is also associated with scalp irritation and inflammation which could lead to an infection. It is crucial to promptly address scalp issues to prevent further complications and hair loss.

Citations: WowRxPharmacy uses only high-quality sources while writing our articles. Please read our content information policy to know more about how we keep our content reliable and trustworthy.

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