Dry scalp is a condition that develops when the scalp’s moisture balance is upset, and this can be caused by internal or external factors. Loss of moisture in the scalp makes it easy for substances to pass through the skin and this exposes the scalp to higher risks of micro-inflammations. Some common symptoms of dry scalp include itching, redness, swelling and even hair loss. Here are the common causes of having dry scalp.
- Scalp psoriasis
With psoriasis being a skin condition, it can also affect the scalp causing scaly and itching bumps that group together to form plaques. This has been attributed to changes in the immune system that contribute to accelerated growth of skin cells. Some people will experience just a mild condition, but there are cases where the symptoms of scalp psoriasis can be severe. These may include persistent itching, soreness or burning , hair loss, etc. Apart from the scalp, the condition can also affect the surrounding areas including the back of the neck, forehead and behind the ears.
- Seborrheic dermatitis
Seborrhea is among the common conditions that affect the skin, and it can affect the scalp causing itchy, flaky scales. The exact cause of seborrheic dermatitis is yet to be established, but it has been linked to various factors including cold and dry weather, genes, stress and yeast referred to as Malassezia. Most people are able to manage the condition using medicated shampoos that are available over the counter.
This is a skin disorder that can affect the scalp causing itchy, scaly and cracked patches. It is known to affect the skin’s natural barrier allowing moisture to get out. The condition is largely associated with infants, but most of them are able to outgrow it as they grow older. There are different causes of eczema including genetic inheritance, skin irritation, bacterial infection and foods such as nuts or dairy products.
- Other causes
Lifestyle habits such as smoking and dieting, environmental pollution, stress, temperature changes, certain medications, certain shampoos, aging, etc. can cause dry scalp.
Having a dry scalp can be very uncomfortable due to the persistent itching, and there are also people who feel embarrassed since the condition is usually associated with poor hygiene. To avoid such situations, you should visit a dermatologist although there are still other medical practitioners who can diagnose the same. Diagnosis is usually done through physical examination, but there are cases where some tests may be necessary.
People with mild conditions can manage their dry scalp using moisturizers, medicated shampoos, gels, creams and oils. Most treatment products available over the counter contain either salicylic acid or coal tar. Other approved medications that can be used include anthralin, antimicrobials, calcipotriene, tazarotene and calcipotriene.
Severe cases may require steroid injections or other stronger medications that should be prescribed by a pharmacist. In extreme cases, phototherapy may be necessary especially where topical treatments and steroid injections do not work.