How To Prevent Eczema On The Scalp
As well as using medication to treat scalp eczema, there are certain changes you can make to your lifestyle to prevent eczema outbreaks from getting worse or happening in the first place.
Here are some ways to prevent eczema on the scalp:
- Reducing stress: in some cases, eczema flare-ups can be triggered by stressful situations and feelings of anxiety. Exercise, meditation, eating healthily and maintaining good sleep hygiene are all good ways to reduce stress levels.
- Keeping your scalp clean: washing your hair and head regularly with warm water and a gentle shampoo can keep eczema at bay and wash away sweat and buildups on the skin which can trigger eczema.
- Avoiding suspected irritants: limit exposure to certain chemicals or products such as harsh soaps and shampoos, hair dye, and extremely hot water. Certain medications may also make eczema flare-up too.
Special Diets For Contact Eczema
Contact eczema is a specific type of eczema in which localized skin reactions arise from direct contact with something in the environment, including allergens such as pollen, nickel, and latex.
Some allergens may also be present in food in particular balsam of Peru and nickel and research suggests that avoiding foods that contain these allergens can relieve contact eczema symptoms, according to an article published in March 2014 in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology.
Balsam of Peru comes from the tree Myroxylon balsamum pereirae and contains a mixture of potential allergens, such as cinnamates and vanillin, chemicals commonly found in flavorings, spices, and certain foods.
If you have a contact eczema related to balsam of Peru, you may find some eczema relief by avoiding:
Nickel is the most common cause of metal allergies and causes more cases of contact eczema than all other metals. Scientists dont fully understand why, but it could be due to sweat leaching nickel from earrings and other jewelry. The nickel then absorbs into skin, causing a rash.
Its also found in a wide range of foods, including grains, shellfish, processed meats, canned food, black tea, nuts, and seeds. Vegetables with especially high nickel content include beans, lentils, peas, and soybeans.
Research suggests that a low-nickel diet may improve dermatological symptoms in people with nickel-related contact eczema.
What Drugs And Food Should I Avoid While Taking Salicylic Acid Topical
Avoid using this medicine on open wounds or on sunburned, windburned, dry, or irritated skin.
Rinse with water if this medicine gets in your eyes or mouth.
This medicine may be flammable. Do not use near high heat or open flame. Wash the medicine off your hands before handling a hair styling appliance . High heat could cause the medicine to ignite and burn your skin. Do not smoke until the gel has completely dried on your skin.
Avoid using other medications on the areas you treat with salicylic acid topical, unless you doctor tells you to.
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What Treatment Options Are Available
Treatments for scalp eczema will vary based on the type you have. You may be able to treat it at home with different hygiene practices and by changing hair products, or you may need to see a doctor to clear up and manage your symptoms.
Keep in mind that seborrheic dermatitis and atopic dermatitis can be lifelong conditions. Contact dermatitis should go away once you remove the element causing your symptoms.
Over The Counter Treatments And Medicated Shampoo
If lifestyle and skin care routine changes dont work, it might be time to consider over the counter and prescription options. OTC and prescription treatment for this skin disorder is aimed at removing scales, reducing itch and calming the inflammation thats causing redness and swelling.
In infants, using an emollient such as mineral oil or petroleum jelly, to gently loosen scales is usually all thats needed. Care can be more complicated for adults, who often need ongoing treatment and self-care to help prevent flare-ups.
Dermatologists usually begin treating mild cases with a topical antifungal cream or medicated shampoo, such as a prescription anti-fungal shampoo or over-the-counter dandruff product. Some popular topical treatments include creams with 1% ciclopirox or 2% ketoconazole. Because both ciclopirox and ketoconazole can dry out the skin, its important to use a gentle moisturizer after applying a cream with either ingredient.
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What Is Scalp Atopic Dermatitis
“It’s an intrinsic defect of the skin barrier,” Dendy Engleman, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York, told Health. Essentially, people with eczema have super sensitive skin, and the condition can cause patches of very itchy, red skin that look dry and cracked.
Atopic dermatitis most commonly appears on the armsspecifically the area in front of or inside the elbowor behind the knees. But you can get it anywhere on your body, said Dr. Engleman, including on your scalp.
Scalp atopic dermatitis is eczema that affects the skin on top of your head. “It’s rarer, but we do see patients who have on their scalp,” Emma Guttman-Yasky, MD, PhD, the Waldman professor of dermatology and immunology and system chair department of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, told Health.
Patients who have severe eczema on many other parts of their bodies can often get it on their scalp, Dr. Guttman-Yasky added.
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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Can A Special Diet Or Eating Style Help Get Rid Of Eczema
While there is no cure for eczema, eczema flares are sometimes triggered by an allergic reaction to specific foods, suggesting some people with eczema can benefit from following diets tailored to their allergies.
Seek Emergency Medical Care For The Following Symptoms
Seek emergency treatment or call 911 for anyone who has a rash in addition to any of the following symptoms:
- paleness or discoloration of the skin that is blue, gray, or blotchy
- a rash that resembles small bruises or bleeding under the skin
- a rash that does not fade when lightly pressing a glass over it
You can check for color changes on dark skin by looking at the soles of the feet, the palms of the hands, the insides of the eyelids, and areas of the mouth, such as the lips or tongue.
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When To Seek Medical Advice
You should see your GP or pharmacist if you think you may have discoid eczema, as the condition can take a long time to improve without treatment and it may keep recurring.
You should also seek medical advice if you think your skin may be infected, as you may need to use antibiotic cream or, in very severe cases, take antibiotics tablets.
- oral corticosteroids for severe flare-ups
- antibiotics for infected eczema
- antihistamines for severe itching
There are many different preparations for each type of medication and it is worth taking time with your pharmacist to find the best one for you.
A range of emollient products, soap substitutes and some topical corticosteroids can be bought from pharmacies without a prescription. Some of them are cheaper to buy this way than with a prescription.
Ask your pharmacist for advice on the different products and how to use them. See your GP if your eczema does not improve after using an over-the-counter preparation.
How Should I Care For Atopic Skin On The Scalp
For babies with little or no hair, skin care for Atopic Dermatitis on the scalp is similar to elsewhere on the body. Gentle cleansing and regular moisturising using products specially formulated for atopic skin, such as those in the Eucerin AtopiControl range, will help to give atopic scalps the daily, basic care they need as well as to prolong the period in between flare-ups and calm skin during an acute flare-up. You can find out more in Atopic Dermatitis and babies.
For children and adults, hair can often make caring for an atopic scalp more complicated. Creams and ointments which are easy to apply to other areas of the body make hair look greasy and lank and result in the person feeling depressed about their appearance. Read more in How Atopic Dermatitis affects sleep and quality of life. Here are some suggestions on how to care for an atopic scalp:
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Helping Your Child Feel Better
If your child has eczema, keep their fingernails short and their skin moisturized. Dress them in loose-fitting clothes and make sure they don’t get overheated. Depending on how severe their eczema is, your doctor may recommend wet wraps, a diluted bleach bath, over-the-counter or prescription medications, and/or light therapy to help.
What Triggers Eczema To Flare Up
Eczema affects each person diagnosed with the condition differently. What causes your symptoms to flare up might not trigger someone else with the condition. Common triggers that cause eczema include:
- Touching something youre allergic to.
Do certain foods trigger eczema?
The connection between eczema and food allergies is unclear. If you have food allergies, then one of the reasons why you must avoid that food is that it may cause or worsen your eczema symptoms. Examples of common allergies include:
Pay attention to what you eat. If your eczema flares up after you eat a certain food, then you might have an allergy to it. If you dont have a food allergy, then there are no foods that will cause or worsen your eczema.
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What Causes Discoid Eczema
The cause of discoid eczema is unknown, although it is often accompanied by dry skin and is thought to be triggered by irritation of the skin.
Discoid eczema tends to affect adults and is rare in children. It is more common among men aged from 50 to 70 and women in their teens or twenties.
Some people with discoid eczema may also have other types of eczema, such as atopic eczema.
Read more about the causes of discoid eczema.
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.
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Systemic And Biologic Treatments
These treatments work to slow down the growth of skin cells or to reduce inflammation.
Biologic medications block proteins in the immune system that are related to psoriasis, such as:
- tumor necrosis factor-alpha
is continually being done to see how these biologics can help reduce symptoms, and to develop newer medications.
How Discoid Eczema Is Treated
Discoid eczema is usually a long-term problem, but medications are available to help relieve the symptoms and keep the condition under control.
Treatments used include:
- emollients moisturisers applied to the skin to stop it becoming dry
- topical corticosteroids ointments and creams applied to the skin that can help relieve severe symptoms
- antihistamines medications that can reduce itching and help you sleep better
There are also things you can do yourself to help, such as avoiding all the irritating chemicals in soaps, detergents, bubble baths and shower gels.
Additional medication can be prescribed if your eczema is infected or particularly severe.
The face and scalp are not normally affected.
The first sign of discoid eczema is usually a group of small red spots or bumps on the skin. These then quickly join up to form larger pink, red or brown patches that can range from a few millimetres to several centimetres in size.
Initially, these patches are often swollen, blistered and ooze fluid. They also tend to be very itchy, particularly at night.
Over time, the patches may become dry, crusty, cracked and flaky. The centre of the patch also sometimes clears, leaving a ring of discoloured skin that can be mistaken for ringworm.
You may just have one patch of discoid eczema, but most people have several patches. The skin between the patches is often dry.
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Scalp Eczema Ayurvedic Treatments
- As per Ayurveda, eczema on the scalp can be correlated to the condition of Vicharchika.
- To treat scalp eczema, Ayurveda suggests the following herbal applications:
A. Herbal Bathing
The affected area is bathed using the decoction or fermented liquid prepared from khadira herb. Dusting powders, oil, or ointment prepared from khadira are used for topical scalp eczema treatments.
When you have severe scalp eczema symptoms, then triphala kashaya or decoction should be used to wash the infected lesions.
B. Dusting With Herbal Powders
If the eczema patches are oozing fluid, then the powders prepared from herbs such as neem, turmeric, tree turmeric, etc. are used for dusting the infected areas.
C. Herbal Lepa For Scalp Eczema
Mix 100 ml of neem oil, 100 ml of sesame oil, and 50 gms of turmeric powder to prepare a lepa or herbal cream. Applying this lepa on eczema patches helps to reduce symptoms effectively.
D. Herbal Hair Products
When you have scalp eczema, it is better to opt for Ayurvedic hair products such as oils, shampoos, hair packs, or serums that contain Pitta dosha balancing ingredients.
Some of the skin-soothing ingredients you can look for in hair products when you have scalp eczema are manjistha, sariva, mahanimba, chandana, karanja, haridra, kutaja, bakuchi, chakramarda, daruharidra, neelini, vasaka, gudoochi, nimba, khadira, etc., says Dr. Zeel.
E. Herbal Oil Treatment
F. Herbal Medications For Internal Administration To Control Eczema
How To Treat Eczema On Scalp Using Steroid Creams
Steroid creams also called topical corticosteroids are used to treat moderate and severe cases of scalp eczema, along with an eczema rash caused by a fungal infection. Effective steroid creams for this condition include:
Steroid creams work by reducing swelling, redness and itching during eczema flare-ups.
They do this by blocking the release of inflammatory chemicals that cause the symptoms of severe eczema.
Steroid creams for scalp eczema should only be prescribed by a doctor or registered pharmacist prescriber.
If your scalp eczema is particularly severe or if regular treatment is ineffective, your GP may refer you to a dermatologist.
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Eczema In Young Children
Some types of eczema, such as atopic dermatitis and seborrheic dermatitis, are common in infants. The American Academy of Dermatology Association estimates that around 60% of children develop atopic dermatitis within the first year of their life.
Young children may also experience other types of eczema.
As with all types of eczema, the exact symptoms and appearance of eczema will vary greatly from person to person, including in infants.
Additionally, some types of eczema may appear slightly different in children than they do in adults. For example, with atopic dermatitis, the rash often affects the cheeks and head in infants, whereas adults commonly develop a rash around their eyes.
Infants can also experience rashes for reasons other than eczema. For example, a rash may be the result of an allergic reaction to a product, diaper rash, or an infection. However, these rashes may have different characteristics from eczema rashes, which tend to cause itchy, dry, or cracked skin.
Contact a doctor for any new skin symptoms in a child to receive a diagnosis and optimize any necessary treatment.
When You Need To Call A Doctor For Scalp Eczema
If you have tried a number of different treatments and theyre not proving to be effective, or you suspect that your skin is infected, then you should speak to your doctor. They may provide stronger prescription medication for you, or refer you to a dermatologist for expert advice on skin conditions.
You should also see your doctor if your condition is causing you anxiety, embarrassment, trouble sleeping or stopping you from continuing with everyday life.
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