Hair Transplant Infection - Signs, Risks, Preventions & Treatment

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Priyanka Sharma
Written by Rajath R Prabhu, last updated on 7 November 2022| min read
Hair Transplant Infection - Signs, Risks, Preventions & Treatment

Quick Summary

Hair Transplant Infections

Hair transplant is a common technique performed for the restoration of hair. Hair transplant infections are one of the most common complications that are relatively rare and affect 1% of people who undergo a hair transplant.

  • The most common hair transplant infection is folliculitis, which is an inflammation of the hair follicles.
  • Other hair transplant infections include cellulitis, impetigo, and erysipelas.
  • The key signs and symptoms of hair transplant infections include redness, swelling, pain, and drainage from the affected area.
  • Hair transplant infections can be prevented by following good hygiene practices, taking antibiotics, and using a sterile dressing on the incision site.
Hair transplant is a common technique performed for the restoration of hair. This technique includes extraction of the hair follicles from one part of the scalp and surgically implanting it in the thinning hair or bald area. Men and women who suffer from hereditary hair loss may find relief with a hair transplant. 

Hair transplants are widely believed to be a safe procedure. However, every surgical procedure comes with its own risks. Hair transplant infections are one of the most common complications that are relatively rare and affect 1% of people who undergo a hair transplant. Let us understand the common hair transplant infection, their key signs and symptoms and how they can be prevented.

How do Infections Occur after a Hair Transplant?

Hair transplant can be done by two techniques, i.e., Follicular unit transplantation (FUT) and Follicular unit extraction (FUE). Both these techniques include the extraction and implantation of the hair. The extraction and implantation of the hair open up tiny channels in the scalp, providing the entry point for the microorganisms to penetrate the open wounds at the donor and recipient areas. Also, the immune system may get compromised due to microbial attacks because of the extensive network of blood arteries in the scalp. 
Hair transplant infections may induce general body symptoms, including 
  1. Swelling and discomfort 
  2. Discolouration or redness that doesn't disappear after a few minutes
  3. Pus drainage from the donor or transplanted sites
  4. Development of scabs and crusts
  5. Severe itching or burning
It can also further lead to systemic symptoms like:
  1. Fever
  2. Swollen lymph nodes
  3. Nausea
  4. Headache
  5. Vomiting
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Causes of Hair Transplant Infection

Hair transplant infections are relatively rare but can occur in some people. Many reasons might lead to hair transplant infection from a botched hair transplant, a few of them being: 
  1. Unhygienic conditions
    Unsanitary conditions before, during, and after hair restoration surgery account for most infections. It's a common sign of uncleanliness at either the donor's or the receiver's location. 
  2. Excessive scabbing
    Scabs and crusts develop after a hair transplant procedure because the blood has dried up and the transplanted tissue has died. 
  3. Weak immune system
    The risk of becoming sick is higher if there is a compromised immune system due to a medical condition such as cancer or HIV. Changes in the immune system, which governs a person's body's defensive mechanisms, may make cancer patients more susceptible to hair transplant infections.
    It is not recommended to do a hair transplant procedure on an HIV patient as the patients are more prone to hair transplant infections due to low immunity.  Also, the doctor or medical staff might get the infection.
  4. Smoking
    There might be a greater chance of hair transplant infection if one smokes cigarettes as smoking reduces the blood flow and slows down the recovery process. 
  5. High blood pressure
    People who are hypertensives are more prone to infection after hair transplant as the blood circulation of people with high blood pressure is considerably stronger. This can lead to the spread of the pathogens to other hair follicles.
  6. Obesity
    High cholesterol levels in obese people may indirectly harm a person's hair. Blood vessels provide hair with the nourishment it needs. Thus, occlusion due to high cholesterol levels on the inner surface of arteries, veins, and capillaries, might cause hair transplant infections.
  7. Diabetes
    Patients with Type 1 diabetes must inject insulin to satisfy their daily demands as they are more prone to hair transplant infections.
  8. Malnutrition
    Weight loss, reduced immunity, and impeded growth are all consequences of malnutrition, making the person more susceptible to hair transplant infections.

Complications of Hair Transplant Infection

If the infections aren't treated on time, they may progress to severe and painful complications. Some significant dangers of hair transplant infection include: 
  1. Folliculitis (hair follicle swelling and inflammation)
    Hair follicle inflammation is often brought on by a bacterial infection, also known as bacterial folliculitis. Folliculitis is a frequent hair transplant donor area infection and presents as red pimples around the follicles a few weeks or months following surgery. 
    Sterile folliculitis refers to folliculitis that does not include an infection.
    A therapy to minimise inflammation and, if required, antibiotics for fighting the infection may be suggested. Talk to the hair restoration specialists if any symptoms of folliculitis are present. 
  2. Neurological damage
    Injuries to the spinal cord or other nerves during strip harvesting might cause neurological damage. Coagulating the blood vessels can also hurt some nerves. 
  3. Necrosis or destruction of tissue
    Severe infections may cause tissue destruction, known as necrosis. Ischemia is a disease in which blood flow is reduced to certain places of the body, and infection increases the likelihood of this happening. 
    Necrotic tissue of hair transplant infection on the scalp looks dark and leathery. The afflicted tissue may need to be surgically removed because of the permanent nature of this illness.
    Those who have had a hair transplant should notify their surgeons if they have any acute localised discomfort on the transplanted area of the scalp. 
  4. Recipient tissue necrosis or death of tissue
    Recipient tissue necrosis is far less common. The skin becomes a greyish tone, then crusts over and forms an eschar. Eschar falls off, revealing a scarred area.

Preventive Measures for Infection after a Hair Transplant

Surgeons usually give patients specific post-op instructions to follow to reduce the risk of infection right after surgery. In addition, the surgeon often recommends antibiotics and pain medication to be used throughout the recovery to lessen the likelihood of infection and discomfort. 
The following are some simple tips that may aid in preventing infections after a hair transplant:
  1. Putting off workouts
    For at least a few days after surgery, or until the surgeon gives the go-ahead, the patients should refrain from engaging in intense activities that cause heavy perspiration during this period since this creates an ideal environment for germs and viruses to flourish in the treated region. This may raise the risk of infection and lead to unintended complications that might compromise the outcome. 
  2. Take medicines regularly
    After the surgery, the patients are often administered painkillers and antibiotics to lessen the risk of infection. Patients should take all their prescribed medications as directed to ensure a speedy and safe recovery. 
  3. Never scrape the incision area 
    Crusts and scabs form on the transplanted region as the wound begins to heal. Itching and a desire to scratch the scalp may result from the scabbing or crusting that has formed. But one should avoid touching the scalp, particularly the incisions, as this may spread infection and cause the transplanted hair follicles to get dislodged. 
  4. Wash the scalp regularly
    Patients must not wash their hair for a minimum of 24 hours following the procedure. After three to four days, they may return to their usual bathing routine. Most patients are given a medicated shampoo that they are expected to use two weeks following surgery. 
  5. Maintain hygiene
    Cleanliness is paramount to reducing the likelihood of contracting an infection, particularly after hair transplant surgery. The recovery phase should avoid touching their scalps with dirty hands to avoid hair transplant infections.
  6. Keep an eye on the recovery process
    Keeping close tabs on recovery following a hair transplant is essential, as is checking in on the treatment area regularly. Notice the signs and notice when it heals. If it’s taking too long, contact the doctor immediately.


Some reasons for hair transplant infection may be handled independently with careful maintenance and safety measures. For example, the hospital must be kept clean to prevent the spread of infection during surgery. When deciding on a hospital, it's essential to ask to see the operating room.
Look for a surgeon that has performed similar procedures before. At HexaHealth, we have an excellent team of experienced doctors performing hair transplantation. Click here to book a consultation call right away!

Frequently Asked Questions

Hair transplant infection can cause redness, soreness, burning sensation, itching, etc. In hair transplant donor area infections, the infection can lead to excessive and unsightly scarring and poor hair regrowth.
Hair transplant infections may show the following signs and symptoms:
  1. Redness 
  2. Soreness 
  3. Burning sensation
  4. Fever
  5. Heat 
  6. Itchiness 
  7. Bleeding
Hair transplant infections usually occur 3 to 7 days after the procedure and last for 1 to 2 weeks, depending upon the treatment.
The uneven distribution of grafts may indicate the failure of a hair transplant. Baldness is a possible result of a much lower density than average. However, excessive density may have unintended aesthetic consequences and harm the scalp's healthy hair follicles.
Yes, hair follicles can get infected, leading to a condition called folliculitis. A bacterial infection is a common trigger.
Yes, but the chances of it are meagre. Sepsis is a life-threatening condition caused due to bacterial infections. It occurs if the infected hair follicles from a botched hair transplant are not treated on time.
Antifungal medication is an option for treating your scalp yeast infection. Many antifungal drugs are available without a prescription. Your doctor will recommend antibiotics for bacterial infections. An antibiotic shampoo, foam, and ointment can also be suggested.
Hair transplant donor area infection often manifests as redness, swelling, pain, bleeding, and fever.
Severe hair transplant infections may cause tissue destruction known as necrosis. Necrotic tissue on the scalp looks dark and leathery.
Folliculitis due to hair transplant infection can last up to 1-2 weeks, depending on the severity and treatment offered.
Folliculitis is not an STD but may be spread by skin-to-skin contact in rare instances. 
Your doctor may take a swab of the infected skin to test for which bacteria or fungus is the cause of the folliculitis. In rare cases, a doctor may order a skin biopsy to exclude the possibility of other causes.
With essential self-care, mild folliculitis will likely heal without scarring in a few days. More serious or repeat infections may need prescription medicine. If left untreated, severe conditions can cause permanent hair loss and scarring.
Just like in other parts of the body, it is common to experience pimples due to the growth of the hair transplant in the hair follicles. However, for the transplanted hair follicles to grow healthy, these pimples should not be squeezed by the patient and should be treated appropriately.
Yes, it is normal to have scalp pimples after hair transplantation, and you should avoid popping them.
No, avoid popping and squeezing the pimples after hair transplantation. Sometimes these pimples must occur for hair to grow back and usually go away on its own. 

Updated on : 7 November 2022

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational and learning purposes only. It doesn't cover every medical condition and might not be relevant to your personal situation. This information isn't medical advice, isn't meant for diagnosing any condition, and shouldn't replace talking to a certified medical or healthcare professional.


Dr. Priyanka Sharma

Dr. Priyanka Sharma

MBBS, DNB Plastic Surgery

14 Years Experience

Dr Priyanka Sharma is a well-known Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeon associated with HealthPort Clinic in Delhi. She has 14 years of experience in Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic surgery and worked as an expert Plastic,...View More


Rajath R Prabhu

Rajath R Prabhu

MSc. Clinical Research I PG Diploma in Public Health Services Management

3 Years Experience

His work in medical content writing and proofreading is noteworthy. He has also contributed immensely to public health research and has authored four scientific manuscripts in international journals. He was assoc...View More

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