Risk Factors And Triggers: What Are The Causes Of Eczema On The Scalp
Although the exact causes of eczema arent fully known, there are a number of risk factors and triggers that can increase your risk of developing scalp eczema or exacerbate the condition.
Here are the risk factors of scalp eczema:
- Neurological or psychiatric conditions
- Immune system conditions or weaknesses
- Stressful medical conditions
- Other existing skin conditions
Here are the triggers of scalp eczema:
- Harsh chemicals in products like soap, shampoo and conditioner
- Irritants in these products such as nickel or cobalt
- Exposure to something youre allergic to
- Medications such as psoralen , interferon, and lithium
- Extreme sweating
Scalp eczema may also be caused by an overproduction of sebum , which can encourage a natural skin fungus called Malassezia to multiply. This fungal overgrowth can cause the scalp to become irritated, which can lead to scalp eczema.
What Causes Scalp Eczema
Seborrheic dermatitis is a chronic inflammatory condition caused by the overproduction of sebum, the natural oils secreted by sebaceous glands in the scalp. It is not contagious.
Because seborrheic dermatitis is a condition related to the sebaceous glands, it can also appear in other oily areas of the skin, including the face , ears, upper chest, upper back, armpits, and genitals.
There is a strong association between seborrheic dermatitis and yeast of the genus Malassezia, which are normally present in the skin but often overgrown in people with the skin condition.
Scientists dont fully understand the exact connection between the yeast and eczema symptoms, but research suggests that a nonspecific immune reaction may be to blame. That is, some interaction between Malassezia, their metabolites , and skin and immune cells results in an inflammatory reaction.
Importantly, once someone becomes sensitized to Malassezia, the yeast will always cause an immune reaction.
Types Of Eczema That Affect The Scalp
Seborrhoeic eczema is one of the most common types of eczema seen on the scalp and hairline. It can affect babies , children and adults. The skin appears red and scaly and there is often dandruff as well, which can vary in severity. There may also be a rash on other parts of the face, such as around the eyebrows, eyelids and sides of the nose. Seborrhoeic eczema can become infected. See the National Eczema Society factsheets on Adult seborrhoeic dermatitis and Infantile seborrhoeic dermatitis and cradle cap for more details.
Atopic eczema is another common type of eczema that can affect the scalp at all ages. The skin is red, dry and itchy and can easily become infected, especially if scratched and when there is broken skin.
Allergic contact dermatitis can develop as a result of your body reacting to a particular substance to which you are allergic. Everyday items that can cause allergic contact dermatitis on the scalp include the following:
- Hair shampoos, conditioners, gels, sprays and other hair products
- Hair dyes, perm solutions
See the National Eczema Society booklet on Contact dermatitis for more details.
Irritant contact dermatitis is a type of eczema that occurs when the skins surface is irritated by a substance that causes the skin to become dry, red and itchy. For example, shampoos, mousses, hair gels, hair spray, perm solution and fragrance can all cause irritant contact dermatitis. See the National Eczema Society booklet on Contact dermatitis for more details.
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Medicated Shampoos Lotions And Creams
Just like your skin requires regular moisturizing, your scalp needs it too. You can use medicated products such as shampoo, lotion, or cream to massage your scalp regularly.
Since it can be tricky to work the moisture through your hair so it reaches the scalp, it is essential to part your hair into sections before application. With this step, the medicine is absorbed effectively into the affected areas.
Medicated emollients lotions and spray-on oil can also be used to keep the scalp moisturized and hydrated.
If your scalp is too scaly, you can use a combination of salicylic acid and tar preparation . Apply the formula and leave it on overnight, or at least for four hours and shampoo your hair in the morning.
Dont forget to cover your hair with a shower cap or a cotton turban if you leave the medicine on overnight as the process may get messy.
How Can I Reduce My Risk Of Seborrheic Dermatitis
Theres little that can be done to prevent seborrheic dermatitis. Cradle cap is a natural, harmless condition. It can be simply treated at home. If you are a teenager or an adult with seborrheic dermatitis, you might be more prone if you have higher than normal levels of androgens, a higher level of lipids in your skin or have an overgrowth of the yeast that is always present on your skins surface.
Some simple healthy things you can do to reduce your risk include getting plenty of rest, controlling your emotional stress and getting a daily small doses of sunshine . Stay away from the midday sun.
Always follow your healthcare providers instructions for using medicated shampoos and skin products. Under treatment or inappropriate treatment can result in flare-ups of your condition and return visits to your healthcare provider.
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Questions You Should Ask Your Healthcare Professional
If you do have seborrheic dermatitis, its important to understand the causes and treatments for the short- and long-term. Here are some of the most important questions to ask during your appointment:
- What is the cause of my seborrheic dermatitis?
- What treatments are safe to apply on my baby who has seborrheic dermatitis, aka cradle cap?
- Are there lifestyle changes I can make to get rid of the itching or scaling?
- What medications or at-home treatments do you recommend to alleviate symptoms?
Though primary care providers and pediatricians can usually treat seborrheic dermatitis, they may refer you to a dermatologist for more specialized treatment.
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When To Seek Medical Advice
See a GP if you have symptoms of atopic eczema. They’ll usually be able to diagnose atopic eczema by looking at your skin and asking questions, such as:
- whether the rash is itchy and where it appears
- when the symptoms first began
- whether it comes and goes over time
- whether there’s a history of atopic eczema in your family
- whether you have any other conditions, such as allergies or asthma
- whether something in your diet or lifestyle may be contributing to your symptoms
Typically, to be diagnosed with atopic eczema you should have had an itchy skin condition in the last 12 months and 3 or more of the following:
- visibly irritated red skin in the creases of your skin such as the insides of your elbows or behind your knees at the time of examination by a health professional
- a history of skin irritation occurring in the same areas mentioned above
- generally dry skin in the last 12 months
- a history of asthma or hay fever children under 4 must have an immediate relative, such as a parent, brother or sister, who has 1 of these conditions
- the condition started before the age of 2
Scalp Eczema: Symptoms Causes And Treatments
A dry, itchy scalp can be caused by many skin conditions, such as psoriasis, head lice, and fungal infections. One common cause is atopic dermatitis also known as eczema.
Scalp eczema affects up to 5 percent of the general population. Eczema of the scalp can show up in babies as young as 3 weeks old, when it may be referred to as cradle cap. Cradle cap can affect up to 70 percent of young infants. Although many infants and children outgrow scalp eczema, it can reappear during puberty and linger into adulthood.
This article will discuss different types of eczema, symptoms of scalp eczema, potential causes, and effective treatments that can help you get your scalp eczema under control.
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Treatment Of The Face
Involved areas of the face may be washed frequently with shampoos that are effective against seborrhea as detailed above. Alternatively, ketoconazole cream, 2 percent, may be applied once or twice daily to affected areas. Often, 1 percent hydrocortisone cream will be added once or twice daily to affected areas and will aid with resolution of erythema and itching. Sodium sulfacetamide, 10 percent lotion, is also an effective topical agent for seborrheic dermatitis.
What Is Scalp Eczema
Irritation on your scalp may be a sign of eczema. Eczema, also called dermatitis, is the name for a group of conditions that cause the skin to become itchy, inflamed, or have a rash-like appearance.
This condition affects your skin, and there are several types that may affect your scalp. Symptoms vary based on the type you have. Some will disappear with treatment, while others are chronic and require long-term observation and management.
Speak with a doctor to confirm the cause of your eczema as well as to rule out other conditions that may be causing the symptoms.
Keep reading to learn more about what may be causing your eczema and how to find relief.
There are different types of dermatitis that may appear on your scalp. These are seborrheic, atopic, and contact.
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How Is Seborrheic Dermatitis Diagnosed
Seborrheic dermatitis is an easy condition to diagnosis because of its appearance on the affected skin and where it appears on your body. No blood, urine or allergy tests are needed. Your dermatologist may perform a skin biopsy to rule out other diseases if your condition does not respond to treatment.
What Can I Expect If I Have Seborrheic Dermatitis
Cradle cap happens in most babies. Its generally a harmless condition that doesnt cause pain, itching or discomfort. It appears within the first weeks to months of life and is rarely seen after 12 months of age in most babies. It can be easily managed with simple at-home care.
In adolescents and adults, seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp or the face and body is a condition that comes and goes throughout life. Fortunately, it can be controlled with treatment. The condition improves quickly with regular treatment.
See your healthcare provider if your condition doesn’t respond to self-treatment, or if the affected area becomes painful, forms crusts, or drains fluid or pus.
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Home Remedies For Eczema On Scalp
While there are conventional treatments to treat and manage skin eczema it often comprises of chemicals. In order to avoid this, there are a number of effective home remedies for eczema on the scalp. This way, these home remedies can help treat skin disease quickly and with fewer side effects.
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar can do wonders to help treat dermatitis and it is one of the most recommended home remedies for eczema on scalp. It helps loosen the scales on the scalp and helps reduce the inflammation that is causing the flare-up. Wash your hair first with shampoo followed by adding a solution of diluted apple cider vinegar on the inflamed area. Allow the solution to settle on the scalp for a few minutes and rinse your hair once again.
Caution must be exercised to ensure that the solution is not applied on a sore or open wound on the scalp. This treatment regime can be repeated once or twice a week for the best results as it restores the pH balance in the scalp.
Aloe vera is often recommended as one of the go-to home remedies for eczema on the scalp. This is because aloe vera has anti-inflammatory properties. The use of aloe vera in the gel form or as a supplement helps treat flare-ups caused by dermatitis. Also, it helps reduce the severity of the flare-ups caused and provides relief.
Tea tree oil
Who Gets Seborrheic Dermatitis
About 11% of the population has seborrheic dermatitis. It occurs most often in infants younger than three months old and in adults ages 30 to 60. It is more common in men than in women, and in Caucasians more than African Americans.
If you are born with naturally oily skin, you are more likely to get this type of dermatitis. A history of psoriasis in your family makes you vulnerable as well. If you live in a dry, cold region, the weather doesnt cause the seborrheic dermatitis, but it does make it worse.
If you have these health issues, youre more prone to seborrheic dermatitis:
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I Always Cry After Comingshould I Be Worried
If you already have a skin condition that weakens your skins protective barrier, such as atopic dermatitis, then youre more susceptible to developing contact dermatitis too. And working in environments where there are many potential irritants and allergens, such as a nail salon, restaurant, or hospital, puts you at risk for this.
Whats The Difference Between Scalp Eczema And Scalp Psoriasis What About Seborrheic Dermatitis
There are plenty of conditions that can cause an itchy scalp. Seborrheic dermatitis , for example, affects oily areas like the scalp, according to the NLM. About 70% of seborrheic dermatitis cases involve the scalp5. According to the AAD, seborrheic dermatitis symptoms may include shiny, oily patches of skin around your scalp, hairline, and eyebrows, oily flakes, or dandruff on your scalp, as well as inflamed patches of skin.
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Best Scalp Eczema Shampoos You Can Buy In The Uk
Medicated, over-the-counter shampoos can help to treat milder cases of scalp eczema. Here at The Independent Pharmacy, we offer a range of shampoos that are designed to treat scalp dryness and eczema, including:
These shampoos contain a variety of ingredients that work in different ways to treat eczema symptoms , so it may take a few attempts to find the right solution for you. Some may also not be suitable for you . If in doubt, speak to your doctor or a pharmacist to see which is best for you.
What Triggers A Scalp Eczema Flare
Eczema triggers can vary from person to person. Environmental irritants, such as air pollution or cold weather, as well as genetic and lifestyle factors, including dry skin and stress, can set off scalp eczema symptoms, according to the AAD.
You can try to narrow down potential scalp eczema triggers by taking note of the products youve used on your scalp recently as well as thinking about any changes in your routine. For instance, blow-drying your hair instead of your usual air drying may trigger scalp eczema flare-ups.
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Try The Following Home Remedy For Cradle Cap:
- National Eczema Association | 505 San Marin Drive, #B300 | Novato, CA 94945
- 415-499-3474 or 800-818-7546
Treatment For Seborrheic Dermatitis In Children
If the seborrheic dermatitis is mild, an OTC topical antifungal cream or medicated shampoo with ketoconazole, selenium sulfide, coal tar or zinc pyrithione, may be enough to control symptoms. It is OK to leave mild seborrheic dermatitis untreated if your child is not uncomfortable.
A seborrheic dermatitis rash on an infants head, neck and torso.
In more severe cases, a provider may prescribe topical steroids or TCIs to calm the inflammation. Oral antifungal agents may also be used.
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How Do You Treat Eczema On The Scalp
Eczema is a skin condition that causes dry, itchy, scaly, red skin.
Eczema is a chronic condition that can worsen and also go into periods with no symptoms . Eczema on the scalp is treated with home treatments and medications.
Home treatment for eczema on the scalp includes:
- Moisturizing the scalp
- Apply emollient creams, lotions, or gels, or spray-on oils to the scalp
- Coconut oil or non-fragranced mineral oil
- Petroleum jelly
What Should I Expect If My Baby Has Cradle Cap
Cradle cap is a scalp condition that happens in most babies. Its generally a harmless condition that doesnt cause pain, itching or discomfort. It appears within the first weeks to months of life and is rarely seen after 12 months of age in most babies.
The good news is that your babys cradle cap can be easily managed with simple at-home care. Apply petroleum jelly or mineral oil to your babys scalp to loosen scales, use a soft brush to gently remove scales, and, finally, wash your babys hair every day with a mild baby shampoo. If your babys cradle cap doesnt improve with these measures, other products can be tried. Contact your healthcare provider to discuss your babys condition and treatment options.
Once cradle cap has cleared up, shampooing your babys hair with mild baby shampoo two or three times a week should prevent it from returning.
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