Infected Hair Transplant

Dr. Karen Owen

This text was written according to the highest scientific standards and reviewed by medical experts. Find out more about our quality assurance.

Written by Erin D. Updated on 14 Jan 2024

Hair transplants typically have very high success rates but just like any surgical procedure, they can carry certain complications. One of those risks is an infection that can occur in less than 1% of the patients due to inadequate aftercare, poor hygiene, and other factors. Read on to explore the symptoms, causes, prevention, and treatments for an infected hair transplant.

What are the signs of an infected hair transplant?

Normal vs. Infected Hair Transplant


Normal Hair Transplant
Since hair transplants involve the insertion of grafts into the recipient region, experiencing some pain and discomfort for a few days after the procedure is normal. A healthy response to a hair transplant includes the following symptoms:

  • Swelling
  • Soreness
  • Redness
  • Crusting (during the healing phase)
  • Minimal bleeding

Infected Hair Transplant
If the symptoms worsen over time or do not disappear within the week of the surgery, your hair transplant might be infected. In this case, your symptoms of pain, swelling, bleeding, and redness might intensify. You might notice other symptoms such as:

  • Burning or warm sensations
  • Abscesses and pus
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Feeling fatigued or lethargic
  • Headaches and fever

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How Likely Is An Infection After A Hair Transplantation?

According to medical research, scalp infections are known to be rare and benign in most cases. This is due to the abundance of blood vessels that allow the immune system to deal with pathogens swiftly.

In addition to that, technological advancements have made hair transplants safer and more convenient than ever before. This has also lowered the risk of developing an infection after the surgery. However, the risk of infection still exists and affects less than 1 percent of hair transplant recipients.

Fortunately, with proper aftercare, good hygiene practices, and a couple of other precautions, the risk of infection becomes almost negligible. In an infection that does occur, there are many effective and painless ways to deal with it through oral medications on your doctor’s advice.

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What Can Cause An Infected Hair Transplant?

During a hair transplant, your scalp is full of open wounds where the hair follicles have been implanted and removed. Infections are caused by pathogens and microbes entering your body through these open wounds on the scalp. This can happen during the surgery or the healing process. 

Here are some factors that can make you more susceptible to infection:

1. Low Hygiene Standards 

You can get an infection if your hair transplant clinic has poor hygiene standards. This includes using non-sanitized equipment or operating in an unsanitary environment.

2. Inadequate Aftercare 

Aftercare is one of the most important steps to ensure successful hair transplant results. So, neglecting your surgeon’s advice, hair transplant post op guides or not showing up for post op appointments can disrupt your healing process and cause an infection. 

3. Excessive Crusting

Excessive crusting or scabbing can cause irritation, itchiness, and scratching. This may lead to the transfer of bacteria from your fingers to your scalp, resulting in an infection.

4. Underlying Medical Conditions 

A weakened immune system due to underlying medical conditions can make you more vulnerable to infections. Take special care if you have diseases such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Cancer 
  • HIV 
  • Malnutrition 
  • High blood pressure 
  • Smoking habit

5 Tips to Avoid an Infection After A Hair Transplant

Prevention is better than cure. It is preferable to minimize the possibility of infection than to deal with one. Here are five important steps to ensure healthy hair transplant results:

  • Choose a Clinic with Good Hygiene Standards: Low hygiene standards in clinics can increase the likelihood of infections. Read customer reviews and do your research before selecting a hair transplant clinic. Make sure the establishment meets all the sanitary requirements and has licenses to prove it.
  • Attend Post-op Appointments: Do not skip the post-op appointments with your surgeon. This is when your surgeon will examine your progress and suggest further steps for recovery. These visits will help your healing process and ensure the best results. 
  • Follow all the Instructions from your surgeon: After the hair transplant, your doctor might make certain recommendations with regard to aftercare, medication, and more. Follow all these directions closely.
  • Do Not Touch or Scratch the Scalp: You may experience some itching and irritation after the transplant. Make sure to keep non-sanitized fingers away from the wounds and avoid scratching or picking on the wounds.
  • Avoid Alcohol and Tobacco: Alcohol and tobacco usage can slow down the healing process and weaken your immune system. Avoid taking these substances for a smooth recovery.
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How to treat an infected hair transplant?

If you notice that your symptoms are getting worse instead of subsiding, seek your surgeon’s advice at once. You can call your surgeon for recommendations but in more severe cases, you may need to visit them for an examination.

After assessing the severity of your infection, your hair doctor will create a treatment and recovery plan. This may include oral or topical antibiotics or antibacterial shampoos to heal the scalp. If your scalp has developed pus or abscesses, draining might be required to start the healing process.  

Side Effects of an Infected Hair Transplant

Some of the most common side effects of hair transplants include:

  • Folliculitis is a bacterial infection that causes inflammation of the hair follicles. Bacterial folliculitis shows up as red bumps surrounding the follicles and may occur a few weeks or months after the surgery. Folliculitis also commonly occurs in people who have not had a hair transplant. Another form of folliculitis that occurs without infection is known as sterile folliculitis.
  • Necrosis is a type of tissue damage caused by serious infections. Infected areas may develop ischemia that reduces the flow of blood to some regions of the body. This can cause the tissues in the infected region to die thereby resulting in necrosis. Symptoms of necrosis include a black and leathery scalp. Necrosis can only be reversed by the removal of dead tissue.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should you take medications after a hair transplant?

How do I know if my hair transplant is infected?

How can I prevent my hair transplant from getting infected?



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