Itchy Rash on Scalp – Painful Skin Conditions that Cause Irritation

Linda White

An itchy and inflamed scalp can be painful. Many conditions (and circumstances) can lead to head rashes in adults. These complaints leave things like red spots and result in a lot of itchiness. Scratching your scalp can be risky, so it’s important to know as much as possible about the cause. Many conditions can’t be resolved entirely but the symptoms can be managed.

Scalp conditions range from mild to severe and need to be treated accordingly. You’re bound to notice other symptoms along with the need to scratch. Being aware of these signs will help you to identify the condition that’s affecting your scalp.

Have you noticed a rash on your head under your hair or strange looking spots on your scalp? It’s important to know how to clear up a scalp rash before it becomes worse. Many scalp conditions won’t go away on their own.

Thankfully, in most cases, you can alleviate the symptoms of an itchy scalp and find relief. Scratching can lead to major problems like bleeding, infection, and hair loss. So, taking a closer look at these rashes can help to prevent these issues.

What Causes Scalp Rashes?

This guide will focus on six skin conditions and problems that commonly cause rashes on the scalp. Those rashes are then linked to severe itching. We’ll cover what you can expect from each of these conditions, so you know about the different symptoms.

More importantly, though, we’ll discuss what you can do to either treat or minimize the effects of a scalp rash. Even if full treatment isn’t an option, you can usually find relief from the itching sensation.

If you’re struggling with an inflamed, itchy scalp, keep reading to find out which of these conditions apply to you.

  1. Seborrheic Dermatitis

One of the most common scalp conditions is seborrheic dermatitis (also known as seborrheic eczema). This state is often linked to dandruff because it can cause flaking on your scalp. Many adults get it, and contrary to popular belief it isn’t a result of poor hygiene.

The exact cause isn’t known, but research suggests that genes and hormones may be a factor. It commonly occurs on the scalp because the sebaceous glands are located in that region. It causes an overproduction of oil, which creates a buildup on the scalp.

Seborrheic dermatitis causes scaly patches and red skin to form on your scalp. These patches can often feel greasy or oily to the touch. Because they build up directly on the skin, they can become itchy quickly. When you scratch them, it’s typical for flaking to occur.

Though there is no direct cause, people who regularly experience it tend to have triggers.

Some of the most common triggers that are connected to the scalp issue include:

  • Stress
  • Cold weather
  • Weakened immune system
  • Certain medications

There is no cure for seborrheic dermatitis. Often, an antifungal or antibacterial medication is needed to keep the condition under control. Medicated shampoos that contain either ketoconazole or coal tar are often the best over-the-counter treatment options.

Popular home remedies include apple cider vinegar to balance out the pH level of your scalp. Or, tea tree oil because it works as an antifungal and antiseptic agent.

Even though seborrheic dermatitis is one of the most commons scalp conditions, it’s also one of the easiest to manage. Dermoscribe Seborrheic Dermatitis Cream is an FDA approved treatment with anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.

  1. Scalp Psoriasis

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, over 7 million people in the United States alone have some form of psoriasis. Psoriasis is a skin condition that can show up anywhere on the body but often affects the scalp.

Symptoms of this skin condition include:

  • Itching
  • Burning and pain/soreness
  • Silvery-white scaling on the scalp
  • Bumpy red patches
  • Dry scalp

Scalp psoriasis has no cause, but most doctors believe it has something to do with the immune system. When your cells start to grow too quickly, they can build up as scaly patches on the skin.

Like seborrheic dermatitis, it is often triggered by something. This includes everything from stress to the weather. It comes and goes in flare-ups for most people. While it’s painful and irritating, it can be managed.

The patches caused by this condition can become thick and crust over. If you itch them, it’s likely they’ll burst open. This can cause a pus-like substance to ooze out and can even cause bleeding. That puts you at risk for infection. So instead of itching these patches the best thing you can do is treat them quickly whenever you experience a breakout.

Over-the-counter medicated shampoos are often the best form of treatment. Shampoos that contain coal tar or salicylic acid are commonly used to keep the condition under control. The Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo is one of the best on the market for managing scalp psoriasis.

Again, psoriasis of the scalp can’t be cured. But, you can manage the symptoms and find relief. One of the best home remedies to use is aloe vera. It’s a natural anti-inflammatory solution that can help with itching and redness. It also contains antioxidants that can help to heal your skin faster. Another good over the counter option is Wild Naturals Eczema Psoriasis Cream.

  1. Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is a mixture of external and internal factors working together to cause an uncomfortable skin condition. This occurs when you’re exposed to something or directly touch something that causes scalp irritation. Most of the time, it’s an allergic reaction.

Certain chemicals in shampoos or hair products can easily cause this skin condition to occur. You may also be allergic to the detergent you wash your clothes in, specific makeup, or perfume. Determining what the cause of your contact dermatitis will help you to prevent flare-ups in the future.

Contact dermatitis isn’t contagious, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t dangerous.

Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • A red rash on the scalp
  • Small, fluid-filled pockets that can cause weeping
  • Itchy, burning skin

Contact dermatitis can last for weeks, depending on how severe the reaction is. Unfortunately, the symptoms can make it worse. If you experience the fluid-filled pockets on the scalp, it’s crucial not to itch them. Doing so could cause them to burst open. If they start to ooze, it could cause other scalp problems like clogging your hair follicles. It also puts you at a higher risk for infection since bacteria can get into these open sores.

The best way to treat contact dermatitis is to figure out what caused it to begin with, or what may be causing the reaction. If you already have the condition, though, topical agents like antihistamines and Aveeno hydrocortisone cream can be beneficial. You should also frequently wash your hands and avoid touching the affected area as much as possible.

Reasons for red bumps on the scalp that itch

  1. Ringworm

Also known as tinea capitis, ringworm isn’t caused by a worm. It’s a fungal condition of the scalp. The name comes from the unusual shape it causes to form on your skin. It often shows up as a circular shape, with slightly raised edges. It’s one of the easiest scalp conditions to distinguish. This is because of its unique ‘look.’ These patches of skin can be itchy and inflamed.

Unlike many other scalp conditions, ringworm is contagious. It can be transferred from person-to-person, or even through objects and animals. You can get it by using or touching almost anything to your scalp that someone infected with the condition has used. This includes everything from towels and clothing to combs and hair brushes.

Other symptoms of ringworm include:

  • Scaly skin
  • Hair that has broken from the scalp
  • Patches with small black dots (this indicates hair loss)
  • Gray or red areas

Fungal infections don’t go away on their own. To treat ringworm properly, you’ll need an antifungal medication of some kind. If you have a severe case, you may need an oral prescription medication from your doctor.

Along with oral medications, you can use a medicated shampoo to help manage the symptoms of ringworm and soothe the itching. One of the best over-the-counter shampoos for this condition is Nizoral. It contains ketoconazole and helps to relieve everything from redness and itching to scaling of the skin.

You can also use natural home remedies, such as tea tree oil to ease some of the symptoms of ringworm. Tea tree oil is a natural antifungal agent and can help to fight against any more growth of the fungus on your scalp. But, it is still recommended that you use these treatments along with oral medication to kill the infection from the inside out.

  1. Hair Treatments

Skin conditions of the scalp can be caused by our actions. One of the primary culprits that can create itching and inflammation is hair treatments. This includes bleaching and dyeing your hair frequently. It’s a common practice, but it can sometimes create significant problems.

Bleach is an incredibly strong solution. It’s a harsh chemical that can affect your hair, your roots, and of course the skin of your scalp. If you have had several rounds of bleaching, the severity of it can create a rash underneath your hair and cause itching.

One of the best ways to avoid scalp damage from bleaching is to prepare yourself ahead of time. Let oil build up on your scalp for a few days before bleaching it. This will allow the chemicals to work on your hair, but they won’t be able to penetrate into your scalp as much.

If you are experiencing adverse side effects from bleaching or dyeing your hair, there are a few things you can do to find relief:

  • Cool the area as soon as possible. This can be as simple as applying a cold compress to your skin to reduce inflammation.
  • Use soothing ingredients like aloe vera and coconut oil to calm inflammation and reduce itching.
  • Lemon juice has also been found to reduce itching after bleaching your hair. Dilute one part lemon juice into two parts water, and spray it onto your scalp. You can leave the solution for about ten minutes before rinsing it away.

The best way to avoid the effects of bleaching and dyeing your hair is to have it done less frequently. Talk with your hair stylist about other options that may not cause such a severe chemical reaction.

Chemical burns are serious, and if they become too severe, you may even need to see a doctor. It’s understandable to want a specific hair color or a particular look, but if you can find a more natural and safe way to dye your hair, your skin will thank you.

  1. Head Lice

Head lice are usually easy to identify. You can see adult lice moving about the head. What’s more noticeable, though, are the younger lice known as ‘nits.’ These nits attach themselves to hair shafts. If you pull apart your hair gently when you’re dealing with lice, you’ll likely see them all over. They are whitish in color, and can sometimes be confused with dandruff. Unlike dandruff, though, they don’t easily fall off the hair shaft.

Other symptoms of head lice include:

  • Red bumps
  • Sores on the scalp

If you’re not sure whether you have lice or not, you can wait until evening to check your head. Lice tend to be more active at night. You can also invest in a lice comb, like the Nit Free Terminator Lice Comb. Not only will a comb help to separate your hair enough to see the lice, but you can comb them out.

Lice are commonly associated with little children and school-aged kids. While it’s true, they are common carriers, and it’s only because they are often in close-quarters with other people. Just about anyone can get head lice, at any age. It has nothing to do with poor hygiene.

Combing out lice is one of the most effective ways of getting rid of them. You can also use medicated shampoos to kill lice eggs and nits and to keep the condition from getting worse.

Apple cider vinegar is one of the most popular home remedies for getting rid of head lice. While it won’t kill adult lice already living on your scalp, it will help to get rid of dead eggs and loosen them from your hair shaft. It’s best when used in combination with a comb to make removing the lice easier.

How to clear up a head rash

Is Scalp Itchiness a Serious Medical Problem?

The conditions listed in this guide are either treatable or manageable. Whether you need an over-the-counter solution, a prescription or a home remedy, you should be able to find some relief from an itchy rash on your scalp.

There are some instances, though, where an itchy scalp can be an indicator of something serious. If you’re concerned, you should consider seeing a doctor if you experience the following problems:

  • You’ve been treating your condition for a while and felt no difference
  • The excessive itching keeps you up at night and disrupts your day
  • The patches or itchy spots are sore to the touch
  • The patches start to ooze or bleed

These factors may not mean something more serious is happening, but you should get checked out if you’re experiencing them. A scalp that is always itchy isn’t healthy, and it’s worth it to see a dermatologist so they can give you the right treatment solution. You may have just misdiagnosed yourself and need a different type of treatment.

One of the biggest things to keep track of is if your scalp is bleeding. Bleeding caused by sores that crack open can open you up to bacteria, dirt, and debris to get inside. This can lead to a severe infection that may eventually need medical attention. That’s why it’s so important to find itch relief.

How to Treat a Rash on the Scalp

The best way to treat an itchy rash on your scalp is first to determine what’s causing it. It’s important to address each one of the conditions the right way. Some will go away easier than others. Some are completely treatable, while others can only be managed with products and lifestyle changes.

If you do have an itchy rash or inflammation, don’t ignore it. Not only will it likely become worse, but you shouldn’t have to live with the discomfort that goes along with itching. In fact, you could be putting yourself in more danger by not properly treating a skin condition on the scalp.

Conditions caused by fungus or bacteria can get worse and go on to create other health problems when they are left unresolved. Some conditions can also lead to or contribute to hair loss.

Copyright 2018 by DryScalpGone.