Scalp Problems Symptoms

Published: February 2, 2012

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Overview

Scalp problems are uncomfortable, but unfortunately, many people experience a variety of symptoms. You might experience a combination of itchiness, flakiness, hair loss, sores, bumps, blisters, and rashes. Problems vary in severity: your scalp could show symptoms of a minor allergic reaction or skin cancer. Hair loss could result from everything including genetics to radiation exposure to shampoo overuse, to medications including chemotherapy.

For many people, hair makes it difficult to identify a scalp problem. Especially with long hair, you might not be able to see a subtle rash before it becomes serious, and you might have trouble seeing the early signs of dandruff.

Scalp problems can also be embarrassing. Hair loss is a tough situation to handle, even when you're facing a life threatening emergency and undergoing radiation or chemotherapy.

Most hair loss is not an indication of a serious medical condition. In any case, you should assess whether your hair loss coincides with other symptoms including extreme weight loss, weight gain, fevers, fatigue, nausea, or blurred vision.

Like hair loss, most infections aren't dangerous or life threatening. In any case, you will want to monitor your symptoms and keep track of whether they change or become worse. You will likely need treatment, especially if you have an infection from head lice or ring worm.

Conditions & Causes

Hair Loss

Hair loss, thinning, and breakage can occur because of genetics, stress, excessive shampooing, poor nutrition, or a high and persisting fever. Some chronic diseases like hyperthyroidism can cause hair loss. If you experience a severe burn or injury, hair might be unable to grow back. Hair loss is also a symptom of radiation or chemotherapy. With radiation therapy, you only lose hair at the radiated site. For example, if you have your lower spine radiated, you are unlikely to lose hair on your head.

Itching & Dry Skin

Dandruff is a common condition among children and adults. You'll notice dandruff by white flakes that are prominent on the head, neck, and upper back. Dandruff can be caused by a variety of conditions including infection and eczema, where skin sheds more rapidly and in higher quantities. Itching and dry skin can also result from malnutrition.

Infection

Infections can occur due to conditions including head lice and ringworm. These infections create patchy and inflamed red spots. Bacterial and fungal infections could also occur. You might experience an oily, yellowish flaking in addition to a foul odor. Hair shaft infections, viral infections, and acne can also cause infections of the scalp and hair shaft.

Treatment

Treatment will vary based on the cause and severity of your symptoms. You might want to try an antidandruff shampoo that is available over the counter. A doctor might also be able to prescribe you a shampoo to fight dandruff and head lice.

If your hair loss is due to stress, you might need to take extra steps to manage your anxiety. You should consider counseling or antidepressants if your symptoms are severe. Bacterial infections will require oral or topical antibiotics, and fungal infections will require an oral or topical antifungal.

Work with a doctor to develop the best treatment plan. Only a doctor can best identify the cause of your scalp problems. By visiting a doctor for an accurate diagnosis, you will be better able to treat your problem.

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