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Most scalp conditions lead to hair loss or some type of skin rash. Many scalp conditions are hereditary. Malnutrition or infection can also cause scalp conditions. The treatment and your outlook depend on the condition causing the scalp problems.
One of the most common types of scalp conditions is one that causes hair loss or damage. This can range from a complete loss of hair to easy breakages or small patches of hair loss:
Other conditions affect the scalp because they’re skin conditions or they cause skin rashes:
Other health problems that affect the scalp include the following:
Scalp conditions have many different causes. For many, the exact causes are unknown or are multiple and seem to involve genetics. These conditions include:
Others scalp conditions, like ringworm, lice, and leishmaniasis are known to be caused by infections.
The symptoms of scalp conditions depend on the exact condition, but they include:
You may experience other symptoms that are characteristic of particular conditions and not necessarily related to the scalp.
If you suspect you have a condition that’s affecting your scalp, your doctor will first want to examine your head, hair, and scalp. Some conditions may be easy to diagnose after a visual examination, such as:
For other conditions, your doctor or a specialist may need to run other tests. You may need to have a sample of blood drawn, for instance, to test for hormone levels and to determine if a thyroid or pituitary problem is to blame, or to detect a nutritional deficiency.
Treatment for scalp conditions varies depending on the diagnosis. Prescription medications are available to help treat hair loss. Surgical implants of hair transplants are also possible. In some cases, the underlying cause of hair loss can be treated. Supplements or dietary changes can correct nutritional deficiencies. Medications can treat autoimmune disorders and hormone disorders. You can treat celiac disease by avoiding gluten in your diet.
Medicated ointments and washes that kill the fungus or insect can cure certain infections, such as ringworm and lice. You can treat seborrheic eczema and cradle cap with medicated shampoos. Neither Ito syndrome nor scleroderma is curable, but you can reduce the symptoms with medications.
The outlook for many people with scalp conditions is good. Although some scalp conditions aren’t treatable, treatment can successfully control symptoms. Medications that slow or regrow hair are somewhat successful, but wigs are always an option when they don’t work. You can get treatment for and eliminate the scalp conditions that occur due to infections.
Written by: Mary Ellen Ellis
Medically reviewed on: Jun 17, 2016: University of Illinois-Chicago, College of Medicine
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