Itchy Scalp and Hair Loss: Are They Related?
Many people who experience hair loss also have a dry, itchy scalp, typically associated with dandruff. If this sounds like your circumstances, you’re far from alone. Research shows that nearly 50 million people in the United States alone struggle with dandruff. Other people suffer from scalp-related fungal infections that can leave the skin irritated and inflamed. If you’re suffering from an itch scalp, and you find that dandruff shampoo isn’t helping, it may be time to make an appointment with a dermatologist.
An itchy, inflamed scalp is not only uncomfortable. When left untreated, it can also cause hair loss. This is one of many reasons you shouldn’t ignore an irritated scalp. There are many remedies that can help your skin become soothed.
Dandruff and Hair Loss
Dandruff isn’t the only culprit when it comes to an itchy scalp. Many other conditions can cause this problem, including fungal infections such as ringworm and even some autoimmune diseases.
If you think you have dandruff, you should try an over-the-counter shampoo that is formulated to help. Although doctors may refer to dandruff as a “cosmetic disease” because it primarily affects the way you look and your self-image, it still needs to be treated. If you don’t treat it, it’s possible your scalp can become so itchy and inflamed that you experience temporary hair loss.
Fungal Infections, Hair Loss and Itchy Scalp
If you have an itchy scalp that doesn’t respond to anti-dandruff shampoo, you may be experiencing seborrheic dermatitis. This can happen when your body creates an inflammatory response to an overgrowth of yeast. While a certain amount of yeast normally lives on the scalp and other areas of the body, sometimes an infection or certain medications like steroid can cause our yeast population to spiral out of control. You can purchase an over-the-counter shampoo containing selenium or zinc pyrithione to cope with mild cases of yeast overgrowth on your scalp. If your infection is persistent, your doctor may recommend a prescription-strength antifungal shampoo, topical cortisone or another medicated treatment.
Tinea capitis, the fungal infection most commonly known as ringworm, can also infect the scalp. When this happens, tinea capitis infects deep into the hair follicle. This can cause round patches of hair loss that grow larger when untreated. The resulting rash may appear raised. You may notice it contains black dots or a stubbly appearance.
If you have a ringworm infection in your scalp, you need to see a doctor. Over-the-counter remedies can’t penetrate deeply enough to knock this infection out. You’ll need a prescription antifungal formulation to get rid of it. Your doctor will rule out other causes of your hair loss and itchiness before prescribing these powerful pills.
When your scalp is inflamed by a fungal infection, it can interrupt the growth cycle of your hair. This hair loss is usually temporary but will get worse if the cause of your itching goes untreated.
Autoimmune Diseases and the Scalp
Psoriasis, a chronic autoimmune disease that causes rashes on your skin and scaly patches, can often cause hair loss when it goes untreated. While nobody quite knows what causes it, psoriasis is not contagious. It may, however, be inherited. You’re more likely to develop it if someone in your family has it. Inflammation from psoriasis can cause hair loss, especially when it goes untreated.
If you think you have this skin condition, consult with your doctor, or try using an over-the-counter medicated shampoo that contains coal tar or salicylic acid to help control scalp breakouts.
Take Care of Your Scalp to
Avoid Unwanted Hair Loss
While thinning hair can often be the result of an allergy or fungal infection, don’t go so far as to stop washing your hair. Fungal infections and other causes of hair loss as well as irritation will get worse if left untreated, and by not washing your hair, you’re providing a breeding ground for more fungus or bacteria. Scratching at your scalp can cause a skin infection, too.
Washing your hair doesn’t cause hair loss, but it will keep your hair clean and healthy. If you have trouble with a scalp that seems like it’s always irritated, see your doctor or get a referral to a dermatologist. There can be a lot of reasons that your head itches, but you don’t have to wait until there’s hair loss to do something about it.