How is your hair affected when you have a scalp problem?
If you are experiencing sores, hair loss, dandruff, or itchiness, you will want to understand where the issue is coming from, and how it will affect your hair. There are a few main causes for many scalp problems, but fortunately many are manageable.
If you are experiencing a hair scalp problem, read on to understand the main causes and available treatment options.
- What causes scalp problems?
- How do you treat scalp problems?
- How can I treat a scalp infection at home?
What causes scalp problems?
There can be a number of causes for your scalp problem which may be affecting your hair. The first thing to do is rule out any type of infection, insect, or autoimmune disorder.
Yeast or Fungal Infection
Yeast infections are a common culprit for those experiencing scalp issues. So what are the symptoms of a scalp infection?
Look for sores on your head, including pimples and flakey skin. Scratching these areas over time may damage your hair, causing hair loss.
You should also be on the watch for bald patches, as that may be a sign of a fungal infection called tinea capitis, or ringworm.
This fungal infection is contagious, spreading from contact with infected people or animals. What does scalp fungus look like?
Your scalp will be itchy, and you will notice bald patches in the shape of a ring. You’ll also experience pain on your scalp, brittle hair, and signs of infection such as low-grade fever and swollen lymph nodes.
Head lice most commonly affect children however adults can contract these pesky insects as well. They cause an itchy scalp, which leads to small red bumps on your skin. Lice are not dangerous but scratching the inflamed scalp may cause longer-term damage to hair follicles.
There are a number of common autoimmune disorders that can cause hair loss. For example an alopecia areata is the result of the body’s immune system attacking its own hair follicles. Hair will fall out in patches and may result in total baldness.
Scalp Psoriasis is another hereditary autoimmune disorder that causes skin cells to grow too quickly, causing red patches with white or silver scales. Scratching these spots will damage your scalp, potentially causing permanent hair loss.
If you have dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis is most often the cause. This skin condition can either flare up at certain times or become chronic. This skin condition affects the scalp, and may cause the following symptoms:
- Greasy, scaly patches of skin
- Red skin
- Flaking skin and dandruff
When seborrheic dermatitis appears in infants, it is referred to as cradle cap. Unfortunately, the exact cause of the condition is not known, however, it may be related to an immune disorder or a type of fungus. It is closely linked with hair loss, as the intense itchiness of the scalp may cause scratching.
Those who suffer from dry skin may also find that their scalp gets dried out. This can happen if you wash your hair too much, or are often in environments that are dry.
Your hair may dry out to the point where it begins to break. Your hair is greatly affected by the condition of your scalp, and a dry scalp may cause thinning due to clogged hair follicles.
If you are having scalp issues, you should check with your doctor to rule out skin cancer. About 13% of skin cancers develop on the scalp.
Those with skin cancer will develop an irregular spot on the skin, which is often discoloured and will change over time. Seek medical advice immediately as scalp cancer can be very dangerous.
How do you treat scalp problems?
Although having a hair/ scalp problem can be painful, irritating, and embarrassing, the majority can be treated if diagnosed early. The most important thing is to not scratch, as this will cause the most significant irreparable hair loss.
Ointments and Shampoos
One of the most common treatments for scalp issues is a topical solution, such as an ointment or shampoo. These have active ingredients which will treat yeast and fungal infections, dry scalp, and lice.
In addition, they will soothe itchy and inflamed skin. Those with flaky skin may also try an anti-dandruff shampoo which reduces yeast growth and excess oils on the scalp.
There are also preventative actions you can take to care for your skin. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) has a page dedicated to hair care to help you prevent damage to your hair and scalp.
Autoimmune disorders cannot be cured but can be controlled. Immunotherapy has shown a significant amount of promise in treating scalp conditions such as alopecia areata.
These therapies work by introducing a small amount of an allergen, and building up the body’s tolerance so that it does not produce as much of an overresponse. Over time, symptoms can become far less severe allowing those suffering from autoimmune disorders some relief.
How can I treat a scalp infection at home?
While seeing a doctor is the best course of action if you believe you have a scalp infection there is a home treatment for almost every condition that you can try if you aren’t able to be seen by a medical professional right away. When treating a scalp infection at home, look for products that will kill yeast or fungus.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is one common product that has antibacterial and antifungal properties. Dilute apple cider vinegar with equal parts water, and pour over your scalp. Leave the mixture for 10-15 minutes before rinsing out. Repeat the treatment a few times a week until symptoms are cleared.
Aloe vera gel is an effective treatment for hair and scalp problems due to the anti-inflammatory benefits that it possesses. A high-quality pure aloe vera gel fights dandruff and soothes the scalp to reduce skin irritation, sore areas and infection.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil has been used for its antibacterial and antifungal properties for years, and for good reason. In clinical trials, it was able to inhibit the growth of funguses. It’s also a classic home remedy for head lice. Apply the oil full strength on the affected areas in 10-15 minute intervals a few times a week.
Having a scalp issue can cause anxiety, and you may be worried about how the problem will affect your hair in the long term. There are a number of common causes for scalp issues, many of which can be diagnosed and treated quickly and easily.
While it is best to see a doctor to rule out more serious issues, common problems like infections and funguses may be remedied at home with a few simple ingredients.
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