Skin Conditions of the Scalp
The most obvious skin condition found in the scalp is dandruff. Dandruff is simply the flaking of dead skin cells. A couple of other common scalp conditions are seborrhea, or excessive oiliness, and seborrheic dermatitis, which is noticeable because of the oily crust that gets stuck to a very inflamed and itchy scalp. These conditions affect people who have a full head of hair as well as people who are losing hair. It can also persist after a hair transplant and cause some complications with the transplanted hairs if it is not properly dealt with.
In its most common and mildest form, dandruff is nothing more than some simple shedding of dead and dried-out skin cells coming from the skin of the scalp. The tell-tale white flakes tend to land on the collar of a black shirt or suit or accumulate on our shoulders and become a very annoying cosmetic nightmare. Some people experience it much worse than others and may find an accumulation of dandruff flakes on pillow cases and furniture as well as clothing.
Oily dandruff is when someone has a very oily scalp as well. The flakes end up becoming attached to the hair strands in little white globs. This is more common in young men during puberty and throughout adolescence. Fortunately, it is not followed by any irritation or itchiness. It can sometimes be an early precursor to seborrheic dermatitis (see below).
Everyday dandruff that has not reached a point of becoming excessive is fairly common and easy to treat. Using a mild anti-dandruff shampoo a few times a week will help manage the flakes. Products that contain ketoconazole, selenium oxide, or zinc pyrithione tar all work well to manage mild dandruff.
This is when your scalp is very oily or greasy. This oil transfers to the hair and makes it very slick-looking. Most people don’t find this very attractive, and they may have issues of insecurity from it. Excess skin oil (or sebum) is the underlying cause of this. Seborrhea can also be caused by a mixture of things such as perspiration or an accumulation of hair products. This is usually at its worst during adolescence and will decline with age. Severe seborrhea should be assessed and treated by a dermatologist.
Seborrhea causes oily and greasy scalp, but seborrheic dermatitis is when these symptoms are also associated with inflammation, crusting, and itching.
This is a fairly common and chronic condition and can affect people of all ages. The peak periods in life for seborrheic dermatitis are early infancy, when it is most commonly known as “cradle cap”, and again from age 30 to 70.
– oily scalp and hair
– yellowish scaly scabs that will cover red and inflamed scalp
– massive itchiness – this may lead to secondary infections due to excessive scratching
Seborrheic dermatitis is likely to be the most severe scalp condition. It should be assessed and treated by a dermatologist if it persists.