When inflamed, itchy, dry skin forms on your scalp, you most likely have scalp eczema. One of the most noticeable symptoms is dandruff. This dermatitis is a chronic inflammatory condition caused by the overproduction of sebum, oils secreted by the scalp's sebaceous glands. Fortunately, it is not a contagious condition.
Causes of Scalp Eczema
Many factors can cause flare-ups, the most common being stress, exposure to extreme temperatures (particularly cold, dry air), hormone fluctuations, illness, exposure to harsh soaps and detergents, use of alcohol-based lotions or hair care products, and heavy sweating. Some medications can cause a flare-up, particularly interferon, lithium, and some drugs for psoriasis.
Some medical conditions make flare-ups more likely such as other skin conditions (acne, rosacea, and psoriasis), allergies or a family history of allergies, obesity, depression, and irregular eating patterns. Nervous system problems such as Parkinson's disease, stroke, brain injury, and epilepsy can increase the frequency of flare-ups.
Managing Scalp Eczema
The severity and frequency of flare-ups can be managed by determining what triggers a flare up and trying to avoid these triggers. Also, take good care of your scalp by doing the following:
- Do not use any product that has created a problem in the past.
- Use only a quarter-size dollop of a mild shampoo and warm, not hot, water to wash your hair.
- While shampooing, wash your scalp thoroughly.
- Remember that perspiration can be a factor, so wash your hair after exertion that causes heavy sweating.
- Be proactive about managing your stress. If you are unable to keep your stress under control, a medical practitioner can offer suggestions.
- Begin treatment at the first sign of a flare-up.
- Expose your scalp to sunlight when possible as this has proven to help many people with scalp eczema. But, do not sunbathe. Exposure to ultraviolet light damages your skin and increases the risk of skin cancer. Just spend some time, ideally at least 30 minutes, outdoors and be sure to wear sunscreen on your face and exposed body parts.
- Regular exercise can diminish dandruff because it improves blood circulation. Good circulation leads to healthier skin and healthier hair. Exercise also reduces stress.
- Eating foods rich in zinc and vitamins is important. Foods that are high in zinc include meat, shellfish, beans, nuts, seeds, eggs, and dairy products.
You Are Not Alone
Dandruff is a symptom of scalp eczema, and one in five people find themselves dealing with dandruff at some time in their life. Men experience dandruff more than women. It usually starts between the ages of 10 and 20 and affects up to 40 percent of people over 30 years old. Many people believe that their scalp irritation is caused by too much shampooing when, in fact, it is best treated by daily cleaning with a mild shampoo. Certain shampoos may be triggers and cause an allergic reaction causing dandruff. When dealing with an episode of scalp eczema, it is helpful to experiment with different shampoos.
Dealing With Hair Loss
Healthy hair requires a healthy scalp. Hair has difficulty growing on an inflamed scalp. Picking and scratching the affected area often leads to more inflammation and more damaged hair. Scratching can also damage hair follicles and even cause bleeding. Hair loss caused by scalp eczema is nearly always temporary. When the condition clears, the hair will grow back. To prevent hair loss and to heal faster, prompt treatment just makes good sense.
Please contact us for a free consultation if you are experiencing hair loss. Experts at our studio in San Jose will suggest ways to deal with your issues that meet your budget, lifestyle, and needs.
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