Good Housekeeping: 7 Scalp Conditions that Cause Bumps or Spots—And How to Treat Them
Good Housekeeping recently spoke with Cedars-Sinai dermatologist Jasmine Onyeka Obioha, MD, about frustrating scalp conditions that can cause itching and flaking. While many are common, they also are easily treated with a visit to a dermatologist.
"Your scalp is a body part that you can't thoroughly inspect yourself," Obioha told Good Housekeeping. "Proper evaluation and treatment can help avoid unwanted complications."
While issues sometimes resolve on their own, scalp cysts, for instance, can come back if they aren't surgically removed. These marble- or grape-sized bumps contain a fluid-filled sac and can become infected or irritated. "Unless the sac is removed, the cyst can recur," Obioha told Good Housekeeping.
Ringworm is another condition that requires treatment. This fungal infection causes a painful, scaly rash that can lead to bald spots and requires four to six weeks of daily prescription medication to resolve. It also is extremely contagious until 48 hours after treatment begins. "Avoid contact with others," advised Obioha, "as tinea capitis [ringworm] can spread through contact with other areas of the body and other people."
Scalp allergic contact dermatitis (ACD)—another itchy skin condition—is generally caused by chemicals and fragrances in hair dye, shampoos and conditioners. "ACD can be painful, itchy, and even oozing in some cases," Obioha said. "The symptoms of a severe case can often be mistaken for infection." The rash can often be cleared by eliminating the triggering product, and a dermatologist can recommend a topical steroid for milder cases, or an oral medication if the rash is severe.
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