Scratching your head more than usual? Have you noticed flakes and perhaps red bumps? Well, instead of reaching for an anti-dandruff shampoo-it may be time to consider other possible causes in order to determine the best treatment solution for your irritated scalp.
What irritates it?
Generally, scalp sensitivity is a very common problem that affects a lot of people and is associated with numerous medical conditions such as:
- Allergic reactions to hair products– such as shampoos, atopic dermatitis and/eczema.
- Psoriasis which is a chronic autoimmune disease characterized by inflamed, reddish and scaly patches on the skin.
- Seborrheic dermatitis: also known as dandruff is a common condition that affects your scalp and is usually characterized by scaly, red patches and unrelenting dandruff.
- Tinea capitis: which is a fungal infection commonly referred to as ringworm. This condition may cause the scalp to feel irritated.
- Head lice infestation can also cause your scalp to feel itchy and irritated due to the presence of nit (eggs) and lice.
- Additionally, your scalp may become sensitive and irritated due to sunburns, rashes, wounds, imbalanced diet, constant heat styling and/or reaction from chlorinated water.
Signs and symptoms of scalp irritation
In most cases, the symptoms include:
- Burning sensation.
- Tingling sensation.
However, if the severity of these symptoms increases it may be because of a hypersensitive or hyperactive scalp.
Whether you are experiencing mild or severe symptoms, it’s important to seek medical advice and get a proper diagnosis. Chances are it may just be reacting to stress, pollution, and harsh chemicals in your hair products or specific climatic conditions.
Normally, resolving the conditions that cause your scalp to become sensitive, tender and irritated will require several visits to the hospitals.
The procedure usually begins by collecting a medical history, questions about recent changes, other health conditions, habits, diet and any prior injuries.
Additionally, the medical health provider will thoroughly examine the scalp, collect a hair follicle or a sample for further examination. In some cases, body hair pattern may be examined.
Irritated scalp treatment
In most cases, scalp conditions usually go away without any medical treatment. Majority of the basic cases require over the counter ointments, creams, antiseptic and maybe dressing materials to be taken care of.
However, if the signs become worse and don’t respond to any home treatment, it’s important to seek medical advice.
Depending on the underlying cause of irritation, treatment for each cause will likely vary. However, medicated cream or ointment to curb irritation, sensitivity and scalp tenderness is more likely to be prescribed.
Additionally, if a treatment cycle fails, it’s vital to seek further advice from your doctor.
Also, you can use these simple steps to relieve the scalp’s sensitivity:
- Massaging it in a circular motion using your fingertips.
- Applying cold compresses for 10 minutes intervals.
- Gently releasing hair down especially after it has been held up in a tight position for some time, or after braiding.
How to prevent scalp sensitivity and irritation
- Always treat dandruff as soon as possible: if you notice you are experiencing persistent flaking, incorporate over the counter medicinal shampoos which contain antifungal or anti-microbial agents such as coal tar, tea tree oil and/or ketoconazole. But if the flaking seems overenthusiastic its advisable to see a doctor.
- Exfoliate your scalp: scrubbing it the same way you do your face might help to prevent its irritation. Exfoliating gets rid of dead skin cells, therefore, preventing them from mixing with sebum and clogging up your pores. Products that contain fruit enzymes or salicylic acid are perfect for exfoliating your scalp.
- Moisturize your scalp: Irritation, sensitivity or tenderness may be due to the lack of moisture. Hence it’s advisable to eat a healthy diet rich in healthy fats (fish, avocados, and nuts) as well as apply regular moisturizing masks and/or oil treatments.
- Wash your hair regularly to prevent product build-up which typically weighs down your hair and possibly suffocates your scalp. Additionally, you need to avoid silicon-based shampoos and conditioners because this ingredient prevents your hair from getting adequate nourishment from other ingredients.
- Avoid shampoos rich in surfactants (basically detergents)-sodium laureth sulfate (SLS) due to their tendency to dry out the scalp, cause redness, irritation and/or sensitivity: especially, if they do not contain specific ingredients that basically neutralize this reaction.
- Always seek advice from an expert: if irritation, sensitivity and/or tenderness persists, you may be suffering from a more serious condition such as scalp psoriasis, hence it’s important to seek medical advice and get the proper treatment for the possible underlying condition.
References and sources