Can Dry Scalp Cause Swollen Lymph Nodes?

Linda White

Lymph glands are an essential part of your body’s immune system. They help to fight off infections.

Lymph nodes are connected to each other within the body. This allows them to work together to keep infections away. The interesting part is that they are located in different areas. Some can be found just under the skin. Others are located deep within your body. No matter where they are, though, it’s nearly impossible to notice them unless they have swelled up.

Each group responds to a specific area of the body. If you have an issue with a specific area, the lymph nodes in that region may increase in size. Some of the most commonly-noticeable areas are behind the ear or on the neck.

Because they are located in these areas, it’s common for people to wonder if a dry scalp can cause them to swell. It can also be a bit scary. In some cases, infections like strep throat or even certain cancers can cause swollen nodes. Is a dry scalp just as dangerous?

Is There a Connection between Dry Scalp and Swollen Lymph Nodes?

The good news is that not all swollen lymph nodes are a medical problem. They can come with a few other issues. These include fever, fatigue, and even pain in the area. Figuring out what is causing that area to swell is essential.

Can a dry scalp cause swollen lymph nodes? It depends on what’s causing the dry scalp. This guide will focus on how the two issues may be connected. Enlarged nodes can be painful if not taken care of. So, finding the underlying problem is vital in getting some much-needed relief.

Let’s take a look at how a dry scalp can affect the lymph nodes. Once you know how the two issues are related, you can start treating them.

What Are the Symptoms of Enlarged Lymph Nodes?

It is usually an infection or illness that causes the swelling. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Ear infections
  • The Flu
  • Sinus infection
  • Stress
  • Strep throat

As you might expect, the swelling itself will be the most obvious symptom. You’ll be able to see and feel if there is a problem. Any other time, they are not noticeable.

But, aside from swelling, there are other symptoms you can be aware of. For starters, they can be painful to the touch. It can cause them to become tender. This makes it easy to irritate the lymph nodes, even with the slightest touch. Try running your hand over them when it’s swollen. You’ll likely notice immediate discomfort or even pain as you do so.

Other common symptoms include:

  • Sweating
  • Runny nose
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Coughing

Many of the symptoms are reflective of the cold or flu. Being able to recognize them can help you find treatment faster.

Are Enlarged Lymph Nodes Dangerous?

Whether it is a serious problem depends on what’s causing it. Usually, the swelling is the result of something more significant going on within the body. Sometimes, they can be painful. And, as stated above, other negative symptoms can go along with them. But, if the ‘infection’ isn’t serious, the swollen node shouldn’t be too serious either.

Sometimes, swollen lymph nodes are associated with cancer. If they keep growing and become incredibly painful, you should get the area checked out. Your doctor may even want to run some tests. When they swell up due to an illness like cancer, they will not shrink back down to their normal size.

Most of the time, though, they are not a danger, just an indication that your body is fighting an infection. Treating the underlying condition should always be your primary focus.

Where Lymph Node Swelling Takes Place & What It Means

They are located throughout the body. When they are swollen around different places, it can mean different things.

Here are some examples:

  1. Swollen lymph nodes around the neck are the most common. They can also affect the jaw. These can usually be caused by several things. Typical conditions include tooth infections or viruses. Throat infections or respiratory problems are also common.
  2. Lymph nodes under the arm can become swollen due to trauma. They are also often associated with different types of cancer. This includes breast cancer. They should be examined right away.
  3. If you experience swollen lymph nodes around the groin, it could mean a few different things. It isn’t uncommon among young people. But, in some cases, they can be linked to STDs or infections of the feet.
  4. Another common area is lymph nodes behind the ear. This can be caused by a few different things. It may be related to an eye infection. Most commonly, though, it is a scalp or skin problem. They usually relate to scalp conditions, like seborrheic dermatitis. Other skin conditions may also play a part. But, like any other type of infection, these conditions can act as a trigger.

What is Seborrheic Dermatitis?

If you do have swelling behind the ear, you may have seborrheic dermatitis. It’s a chronic skin condition. It causes the skin of the scalp to become inflamed. This can cause symptoms like itching, flaking, and scaly patches.

It’s an incurable infection. But, most people can treat and manage it easily. Technically, it isn’t dandruff. But, it can confuse people because it can result in white flakes. Dandruff is an overproduction of skin that causes it to flake. Seborrheic dermatitis is an infection/condition that must be treated and managed to keep it under control.

Other common skin conditions of the scalp are psoriasis and eczema. Any type of infection like these can trigger a reaction. While it’s important to check on other possibilities, these causes are most common in that particular area.

Should I See a Doctor for Swollen Lymph Nodes?

You should always see a doctor if they’re swollen. They will be better able to determine the cause. In most cases, though, you’ll be able to treat the condition on your own. Some might become smaller on their own. Others will need an antibiotic treatment or regular monitoring.

If you don’t think you have an infection but have some swelling, you should see a doctor right away. Finding the underlying cause is important. A diagnosis usually comes from a thorough examination. A doctor will be able to determine the extent of the swelling. But, they are not all the same. Your doctor will take the time to characterize the swollen node. They will suggest it’s either hard or soft, big or small, etc.

How Can Swollen Lymph Nodes behind the Ear Be Treated?

Again, many times no treatment is necessary for the swelling to go back down. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe some type of medication. But, the best thing you can do is to treat the underlying cause, to begin with.

Because they are all over the body, there are many possibilities when it comes to what can cause them to become enlarged. Knowing the location is the first step to treating the problem.

If you have an enlarged node behind the ear, figure out what’s causing it. If it isn’t a problem with your eyes, it’s likely a skin/scalp condition. Since the most common problem associated with it is seborrheic dermatitis, treating that condition is the best way to reduce the swelling.

Seborrheic dermatitis can’t be cured completely. But, that doesn’t mean you have to live with its side effects all the time.

How to Manage Seborrheic Dermatitis

One of the best ways to manage seborrheic dermatitis is by using over-the-counter treatment shampoos. Coal tar, ketoconazole, and salicylic acid are all common ingredients in treatment options. In areas that are not covered in hair, you may also be able to use a topical steroid.

Along with managing the condition with over-the-counter solutions, lifestyle changes can also help to keep it in check. Seborrheic dermatitis often comes in waves. It will ‘show up’ for a while, and eventually go away. These are called flare-ups. They can be painful and irritating. But, they can also be managed with certain daily choices.

Does my scalp have an infection?

If you suffer from seborrheic dermatitis, it’s important to realize what triggers your flare-ups. Triggers can be different for everyone. But, some of the most common triggers include things like stress, or cold, dry air. Doctors aren’t 100% sure what causes the condition to begin with. But, these triggers can be monitored to make flare-ups less frequent.

Another way to reduce the impact of flare-ups is to manage your reactions to the condition. Seborrheic dermatitis can cause a lot of itching and flaking. But, itching your scalp can be dangerous. If you accidentally cut it open, you’re putting yourself at risk for infection. Since swollen lymph nodes and infection go hand-in-hand, you could be creating an even bigger problem.

Another infection on the scalp will make it more difficult for swelling to go down. On top of that, it could cause more pain and irritation. It could also need a completely different type of treatment.

Can Other Scalp Conditions Cause Enlarged Lymph Nodes?

Now you know that swollen lymph nodes are usually related to some kind of infection. Even though seborrheic dermatitis is one of the most common, there are other scalp conditions that may trigger swelling, too.

Two common conditions are scalp psoriasis and eczema. Scalp psoriasis is a build up of skin cells. It results in scaly patches on the scalp. Like seborrheic dermatitis, it cannot be cured. But, it can be managed. It also is associated with flare-ups. Things like dry skin or an injury to the scalp can cause a flare-up to occur.

It shares a lot of the same symptoms as seborrheic dermatitis. But, the scales of scalp psoriasis are usually thicker. It’s also considered a ‘dryer’ condition. The scales may be dry and crusty, rather than greasy-looking.

Scalp psoriasis treatments include things like coal tar shampoo. Over-the-counter products can usually make the condition easy to manage. Lifestyle choices and changes can also play a big part. For example, your diet can affect how severe your flare-ups may be. Choosing a healthy diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can make a difference.

Eczema causes itchy, red, flaky skin on the scalp. But, unlike many other conditions, it can be treated. It should go away with time, the right lifestyle choices, and even medical help. It may cause swelling in the lymph nodes while you’re going through it.

Being able to identify the type of scalp condition or infection you’re dealing with is extremely important. They cannot all be treated the same way. The sooner you recognize the problem, the easier it will be to address it correctly. As a result, management of these conditions can lower the risk of swelling in your lymph nodes.

Will Lymph Nodes Stop Swelling on Their Own?

When you treat the problem, you can expect the swelling to go down. If you have seborrheic dermatitis, the swelling will usually go away once the condition becomes ‘dormant’ again. Simply put, if you have a flare-up, you can also expect your lymph nodes to swell up.

The good news is that they are a sign that your body is working hard. The glands are working to get rid of the problem that is causing the swelling. Of course, seborrheic dermatitis isn’t completely treatable. But, you can take comfort in knowing your body is doing its job to fight back against any other type of infection.

How to Treat an Itchy Scalp

There are dozens of causes of an itchy scalp. Don’t always assume a dry, flaky scalp means you have an infection or skin condition. It could be something as simple as the weather. Or, it could be a result of your hair care products.

If you have a skin condition like seborrheic dermatitis or eczema, you’ll know the various symptoms. They will also flare-up with some consistency, unlike other common dry scalp causes. If you notice your lymph nodes are swollen behind your ear, it’s safe to assume one of these skin conditions is affecting you.

lympth nodes are swollen due to dry scalp

Treating an itchy scalp requires you to know what’s causing it in the first place. Look for more signs and symptoms of a scalp condition. If you don’t have any of them, you may be able to treat the problem by switching hair products or making some lifestyle changes.

A good place to start is by switching your hair care products to natural solutions. Chemicals and preservatives in shampoos and styling products can create product buildup. This can cause itching and flaking, which can then turn into an infection if your scalp gets scratched.

Lifestyle changes like not showering every day, eating a healthy diet, and protecting your hair and scalp can also make a big difference. Treating a dry scalp isn’t always the same as treating a skin condition. Before you start to worry if you might have something like seborrheic dermatitis, consider the other signs.

What Should I Do if My Lymph Nodes Swell Up?

If your lymph nodes are swollen, it’s safe to say that something is ‘off’ within your body. But, you don’t need to panic. If you experience any swelling, it probably has something to do with your scalp. If a dry scalp is causing this swelling, treating the condition is more important than focusing on the swollen node. The swelling will go down over time, once you’re able to manage the underlying cause.

What’s the good news? The scalp conditions listed in this guide aren’t considered ‘dangerous.’ They can cause irritation and can become painful if not managed. But, they are easily manageable with just a little know-how.

Experiencing a swollen lymph node can be scary. This is especially true if you’re not sure what’s causing it. Once you can recognize the symptoms of these scalp conditions, you can have a better idea of how to keep them in check. The better you become at managing a dry scalp, the less likely it will be for your lymph nodes to become swollen.

Copyright 2018 by DryScalpGone.