Irritation, Flaking, & Hair Loss Are Telltale Signs
Itching and pain often accompany scalp conditions, especially if the scalp is particularly dry. Often, scratching an itchy scalp can exacerbate the problem and lead to bleeding or infection.
Flaking, red patches, or dry, cracked skin could indicate a chronic condition such as seborrheic dermatitis or psoriasis.
Many scalp conditions are associated with some degree of hair loss. In most cases, hair loss is temporary and may occur sporadically. However, there are some conditions like alopecia areata and ringworm that can cause more widespread or permanent balding.
If my parents have scalp conditions, will I?
Genetics & Seasonal Changes Can Make You More Susceptible
Some patients may be genetically predisposed to certain conditions such as male pattern baldness or psoriasis. According to leading scalp care company, Head & Shoulders®, approximately 30 percent of people with psoriasis also have a family member with the condition. Male pattern baldness is harder to predict. While both parents' genes play a vital role, the condition relies on other factors as well.
So what exactly causes scalp conditions?
Hormones, Infection, and the Environment Are Common Culprits
Stress, pregnancy, and menopause can cause hormone levels to become unbalanced. This can impact hair growth and shedding.
Pollution, seasonal changes, and other environmental factors can cause your scalp to become dry, leading to irritation and dandruff.
Fungal infections such as ringworm can cause patches of hair loss. Hair may also become brittle and break.
Don't feel alone if you are struggling with a scalp-related issue...
"Almost half of the population suffers from a scalp condition."
Head & Shoulders®
Preventing & Minimizing the Effects of Scalp Conditions
Using coconut oil, deep conditioning masks, and other moisturizing treatments can help prevent dryness.
Avoid Applying Unnecessary Heat
Hair tools such as blow dryers and straighteners can dry out or damage your hair. If you plan to use these tools, make sure they are on a low heat setting.
Healthy Lifestyle Choices
Eating a well-balanced diet can improve the health of your hair and scalp. Make sure to incorporate dark leafy greens, citrus fruits, and protein into your day-to-day routine.
How do I know if I have a hair or scalp condition?
Your Doctor Can Diagnose and Treat Scalp Conditions
During your evaluation, your dermatologist can review your medical history and thoroughly examine your hair and scalp. Be prepared to discuss the first time you noticed the condition as well as the frequency or severity of symptoms. Your doctor may also inquire about your family history since many hair and scalp conditions are genetic.
Your doctor can then examine your scalp as well as your ears and neck. If they suspect a fungal infection, they may culture the area. If you are suffering from substantial hair loss, a blood test or specialized analysis may be necessary to determine the underlying cause.
So what are the treatment options for hair and scalp issues?
The Key to Treatment Is Addressing the Underlying Cause
Medicated Shampoos & Ointments
There are ointments and shampoos designed to alleviate symptoms of scalp conditions. Special shampoo is often recommended if you're suffering from dandruff. Ointments and topical steroids are frequently used to address allergic contact dermatitis or psoriasis.
Antifungals and antibiotics may be necessary if you have an infection. Medications are commonly recommended for tinea capitis, or ringworm of the scalp.
Surgical Hair Restoration
Patients suffering from hereditary hair loss may benefit from hair grafting techniques if less invasive solutions have not been effective.
What should I do if I think I have a scalp condition?
Speak to a Doctor Today
While many scalp conditions are fairly minor and will clear up on their own, others require medical attention. If you are suffering from ongoing discomfort, a rash, or hair loss, you should contact your doctor as soon as possible to find an effective remedy.
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