In case you’re continually scratching your head due to an itchy scalp, it might be extra than simply dandruff.
Many situations could cause an itchy scalp ― from dandruff to ringworm or one thing extra severe like a bacterial an infection or autoimmune situation. Earlier than you may cease the itch, it’s essential to discover out what’s inflicting it.
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Right here dermatologist Melissa Piliang, MD, explains 5 frequent causes and coverings for itchy scalp:
1. Dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis
These are the commonest causes for an itchy scalp.
“Your body’s inflammatory response to an overgrowth of yeast causes the itching and flaking associated with these conditions. Yeast normally lives on the scalp and other hairy areas of the body, but the problem arises when there’s too much yeast present,” says Dr. Piliang.
The repair: For delicate instances, you need to use an over-the-counter shampoo containing selenium or zinc pyrithione ― components that assist management yeast. For extra severe instances, you could want a prescription-strength antifungal shampoo, topical cortisone or medicated foam, resolution, cream or ointment.
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It is a power autoimmune illness that causes raised, reddish, scaly patches on the pores and skin or scalp. You possibly can’t get psoriasis from different individuals. Consultants don’t have a transparent understanding of what precisely causes this pores and skin dysfunction, however you’re extra more likely to develop it if somebody in your loved ones has it.
The repair: Dr. Piliang recommends attempting over-the-counter medicated shampoos containing coal tar or salicylic acid to manage scalp psoriasis. If these don’t work, make an appointment along with your dermatologist. She or he can prescribe stronger shampoos and topical cortisone.
3. Tinea capitis
It is a fungal an infection generally often called ringworm, which might infect the scalp. Tinea capitis extends deep into the hair follicle, inflicting spherical patches of hair loss that enhance in dimension over time. The rash might seem raised and with black dots or a stubbly look.
The repair: When you have a ringworm an infection of the pores and skin, you need to use an over-the-counter antifungal formulation to eliminate it. Not so with the scalp.
“Since the organism exists deep in the hair follicle, you’ll need to take oral anti-fungal medications to resolve the problem,” says Dr. Piliang. Your physician will confirm that that is really what’s inflicting the issue earlier than prescribing these highly effective medicines.
4. Head lice
Though most individuals consider schoolchildren once they hear about head lice, they will invade anybody’s scalp. Dr. Piliang says lice want clear hair, so having a case of head lice doesn’t imply you might have poor hygiene.
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In case you look intently, you may see tiny nits (eggs) hooked up to particular person hair strands. They give the impression of being a bit like dandruff, however they aren’t simply shaken off as a result of they’re “glued” to the hair shaft. You may also be capable of see grownup lice transferring across the head, however they’re more durable to identify than the nits.
The repair: You possibly can deal with head lice with over-the-counter shampoos containing pesticides pyrethrin or permethrin.
“Each head lice shampoo formula has its own treatment protocol,” warns Dr. Piliang. “You must follow the instructions on the box exactly to get rid of the lice.” These work effectively ― should you use them as directed.
5. Allergic reactions
Hair dyes, eczema and atopic dermatitis are different, much less frequent causes of itchy scalp.
The repair: Allergic reactions will typically go away on their very own should you can establish and keep away from the chemical to which you might be allergic. That is difficult and specialised assessments in a dermatologist’s workplace could also be wanted to kind out which chemical is inflicting the allergy.
When to fret about scalp itchiness
More often than not, an itchy scalp isn’t trigger for concern. However there are occasions when it might point out one thing extra severe. See your physician when:
- Over-the-counter shampoos don’t make any distinction.
- The itching retains you up at night time and impacts your work or research.
- You see lice or nits in your hair.
- The itchy spots are very sore to the contact.
Dr. Piliang says that it’s at all times a good suggestion to see your dermatologist when you might have a persistent itchy scalp – even should you assume it’s simply frequent dandruff. Your dermatologist can test it out and inform you which cures will carry you some reduction.
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