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Black piedra – causes, side effects and treatments at

Wednesday, January 17, 2018 by

Black piedra is a phaeohymphomycosis wherein black nodules appear on the strands of the hair. It is caused by the fungus Piedraia hortae. These nodules are black, generally hard and gritty, and are firmly cemented on the strands of hair. They are mostly composed of organized masses of fungus cells, and occurs right above the level of hair follicles. This disease occurs mostly in tropical countries and areas such as South America, Africa, and Asia. Black piedra can affect humans as well as other primates.

Hair strands affected by these black piedra nodules often break at the point of infection. These nodules are often mistaken for pediculosis, or hair lice, since hair lice eggs look similar to the black piedra nodules. Black piedra, however, is not an infestation but a fungal infection. Unlike white piedra, its cousin, black piedra most often occurs on scalp hair and not on any other parts of the body with hair.

This fungal disease is caused by poor hygiene, having excessively long hair, the use of different oily hair products, and sexual transmission or personal contact. Cultural practices, such as wearing of veils, may contribute to the development or progression of this black piedra. These nodules can be characterized by it black or brown color, and are difficult to remove.

Known risks and symptoms of black piedra

Black piedra is not known to cause any symptoms, except unsightly nodes on the hair strands which may be highly visible on people with light-colored hair. This diseases is communicable, and proper hygiene must always be exercised for both the affected and other people in contact with the affected.

Body systems harmed by black piedra

Black piedra is a hair disease and only affects hair and the scalp.

Food items or nutrients that may prevent black piedra

Natural treatments for hair diseases such as black piedra are easily available.

Raw papaya can be used in different ways to treat hair diseases. Its flesh can be applied directly onto hair, or blended into a paste to use as a hair mask. Once the papaya dries up, the hair can then be washed normally with shampoo. This is safe to apply on children, unless the child has an allergy to papayas. Mustard seeds are known to fight scalp fungus. After washing the hair with warm water, a mustard seed paste can be made and applied on the hair, and left on for 20 to 30 minutes. Wash the remaining mustard seed paste off with a mild shampoo. Basil extracts can help with scalp infections by applying it directly onto the affected area for several minutes.

Eating vegetables also help the body fight these infections naturally. Incorporating neem leaves, spinach, and carrots have antifungal properties that combat infections from fungi.

Essential oils such as allicin, citronella oil, tea tree oil, coconut oil, orange oil, neem seed oil, patchouli, lemon myrtle, and palmarosa oil may aid in the treatment of fungal infections like black piedra.

Following good hygiene practices also eliminates the chance of getting this infection. Regularly washing the hair thoroughly prevents the accumulation of fungi on the hair. Keeping your comb or hair brush to yourself will help mitigate the spread of the disease. Furthermore, avoidance of unhygienic hair practices, such as sharing hair bands or hair clips will also prevent you from having black piedra.

Treatments, management plans for black piedra

The best way to get rid of this fungal infection is to shave the head of all hair. However, females may not find this solution as the most optimal, due to aesthetic reasons. Medical treatments are available, such as antifungal agents topicals (in the form of creams or shampoos). Drugs that have antifungal properties may also help – these include amorolfine, miconazole, ketoconazole, griseofulvin, and sulconazole. It is good to note that these medications may cause side effects, and should not be self-prescribed nor taken without a medical expert’s consent.

Where to learn more


Black piedra is a hair disease caused by a fungus and is communicable.

Black piedra often happens in people who have poor hygiene or unhygienic practices.

Black piedra is described as dark and hard nodules on the hair shaft.

Black piedra is treatable with natural remedies and medication.


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