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Itchy Scalp

Itchy Scalp

The main causes of an itchy scalp are contact dermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis, tinea capitis, head louse and stress.Here is information on the causes and the treatment. Have a look...
Buzzle Staff
Last Updated: Apr 22, 2018
Not only does an itchy scalp cause a lot of discomfort, it is also a cause of embarrassment. It is thus important to identify the cause and get treatment right away. Here are some causes of an itchy scalp:
Contact Dermatitis
It is a common cause of rash and itch. The main causes of contact dermatitis could be a new shampoo, soap, hair dye or hair product, mainly if the product has alcohol in it.
Treatment
The only way to treat it, is to find out the cause and avoid it altogether. In extreme cases, your doctor might prescribe steroid medications, or antibiotics if the scalp becomes infected.
Seborrheic Dermatitis
It is known as cradle cap in infants and dandruff in adults. Cradle cap is common in the first three months of life. It affects many babies at some stage or another. In newborn babies, seborrheic dermatitis is observed when the maternal androgen hormones are passed from the mother to the child across the placenta.
Dandruff is more common in adolescents and gets worse during early adulthood. This is because, around the time of puberty there is an incredible change in the production scale of lipids. These lipids are a rich source of food and the more food available the more the fungi, bacteria and yeast thrive. As the yeast thrives, there is a major irritation and inflammation of the scalp. Hair growth is reduced when the hair follicles find inflamed skin.
Conditions like a stroke, Parkinson's disease; head injury can also be linked to seborrheic dermatitis. Things like stress, chronic fatigue, humidity and seasonal changes largely contribute in aggravating the situation.
Treatment
There are various treatments available for seborrheic dermatitis, with the simplest one involving the use of nontoxic hair care products like medicated anti-dandruff shampoos. These shampoos are used to control the scaling and spreading. These shampoos may contain sulfur, selenium sulfide, zinc pyrithione, tar, salicylic acid or oil of Cade. Sometimes, your dermatologist may prescribe antibiotics to control the reddening of the greasy patches responsible for the inflammation. All in all, seborrheic dermatitis can be a very persistent condition. So have patience and continue the treatment even when the symptoms are gone.
Psoriasis
It is a common skin condition. In this case the skin becomes thickened with a silvery scaling that is red and inflamed underneath, when scratched. The back of the head is the common site where scalp psoriasis may occur, though multiple discrete areas of the scalp or even the whole scalp may be affected. Psoriasis is an auto-immune disease. Streptococcal infection, exposure to the sun, reaction to drugs, hormonal changes and skin trauma are some of the factors that are responsible for the first outbreak of psoriasis.
Treatment
The treatment of psoriasis depends on the pattern and the severity. The topical treatment includes some ointment or cream, which contain corticosteroids, vitamin D3, retinoids, coal tar or anthralin.
The phototherapy for psoriasis includes the uses of ultraviolet (UV) light to kill the T calls in the skin. This reduces redness and slows the overproduction of skin cells that cause scaling.
The systemic treatment on the other hand involves taking medicines internally by pill or injection. The drugs for the treatment include methotrexate, retinoids and cyclosporine.
Tinea capitis (Ringworm of the scalp)
It is a type of fungal infection. The most common types that affect humans are Microsporum canis and Tricophyton verrucosum. Tinea capitis is transferred by contact with animals like cats, dogs, cows, hamsters and guinea pigs. The symptoms of this disease involve one or two sections of the scalp showing hair loss or a stubby appearance, with the skin becoming slightly scaly. Alternatively, there will be an appearance of a 6 to 9 cm wide lesion, which may develop into a rash. In severe cases, a kerion (swollen mass discharging pus) will appear. It might also develop into alopecia (baldness) when the scalp further becomes infected with Staphylococci bacteria.
Treatment
Once the doctor has diagnosed the disease using a scraping of fungi, which is taken for a microscopic and cultivation test. Treatment should be started. An antifungal medicine, which is taken orally, is the most common treatment. If a kerion has formed then the antifungal treatment may be supplemented with corticosteroids for a short time.
Head Louse
It is a common cause of itchy scalps. It is usually found in children and spreads with close contact. The itch is present behind the ears and the back of the head. The symptoms are an itchy scalp, visible white colored lice and even red bite marks.
Treatment
To get rid of head louse your pharmacist will most probably recommend one or two applications of a permethrin based shampoo. As lice are able to survive a few days without human contact so, do take care to clean the room and wash the bed sheets and clothes everyday, once the treatment is started.
Stress
Yes! Stress is also responsible for an itchy scalp. With the lifestyle that we are leading nowadays stress is on the rise. People have a tendency to scratch the scalp when they are stressed and that leads to rashes on the scalp that itch.
Treatment
Unlike the medication that we have discussed above, to relieve stress it is important to bring a change in our lifestyle. A holiday, yoga, a walk, listening to music and watching a movie, may be the treatment that will cure you of an itchy scalp caused by stress.
So, the first thing to do would be to find out the reason behind your itchy scalp. Then, an appropriate treatment is all you need to get rid of it. Take care.