May 26, 2009

Symtoms, Causes & Treatment for Eczema on Scalp

Posted in Category : Beauty

Scalp eczema or seborrheic dermatitis can be described as a common, inflammatory skin disorder that mainly affects the skin on your scalp. This condition can affect just about anyone, but is more common in infants and elderly men. Seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp is commonly referred to as cradle cap when it occurs in babies who are below the age of 6 months

Scalp eczema is not a major cause for concern as it rarely has an adverse effect on your overall health. However, it can cause you to experience a lot of pain and discomfort, not to mention embarrassment, which is why it should be treated by a dermatologist or a doctor as soon as possible.

Scalp eczema is not contagious and does not spread from one person to the other through personal contact. Though this disorder has the tendency to recur, you can prevent flare-ups by adopting a few simple self-care measures. You could also use over the counter and prescription medication to control the symptoms of scalp eczema.


Seborrheic dermatitis can occur on any part of your body that has sebaceous glands, such as your face, ears, armpits and torso. In case the disorder affects the skin on your scalp, you may experience signs and symptoms like:

  • Inflammation and redness on the skin
  • Formation of thick, yellowish crusts on the scalp
  • Yellowish or whitish flakes on the scalp and hair, which look like dandruff
  • Severe itching and burning on the scalp area
  • Appearance of lesions on the skin
  • Hair loss

It is quite possible for the symptoms of scalp eczema to improve or even disappear completely and then surface again, later on. There are also several factors that could cause the symptoms to worsen considerably. It is best for you to consult your doctor in case:

  • The symptoms are causing you to lose sleep or are distracting you from your daily activities
  • You are experiencing a high amount of anxiety or embarrassment because of the condition
  • The skin on your scalp smells funny or seems to have gotten infected
  • You do not experience any relief in spite of trying out various home remedies and self-care measures.


Contrary to the common belief, scalp eczema does not occur because of inadequate hygiene. Even the cleanest of people could suffer from this skin problem. In fact, the exact causes of seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp are still not clear, though medical experts believe that the disorder may occur due to a combination of factors like:

  • Overgrowth of the Malassezia fungus, which usually resides on the scalp
  • Heredity, where the condition runs in the family
  • Climatic changes, like dry weather during winters or the humidity during summers
  • Excessive sweating, after exercising
  • Continued use of hair care products that do not suit the skin
  • Being under a lot of stress

In some instances, scalp eczema could occur as a result of other health problems, such as:

  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Food allergies or intolerances
  • Obesity
  • Strokes

Therefore, it is best to consult a doctor and identify the causes of scalp eczema as soon as possible.


Seborrheic dermatitis is a chronic condition and there is no definite way to cure the disorder permanently. However, there are several treatment options that can control the symptoms and reduce the frequency of a flare-up.

In most cases, the first course of treatment is the use of a medicated hair product. Your doctor may prescribe a shampoo that contains ingredients like:

  • Coal tar
  • Selenium sulfide
  • Salacylic acid
  • Zinc pyrithione

Your doctor may try to control the overgrowth of the Malassezia fungus with the help of:

  • Ciclopirox, often present in prescription shampoos and skincare products
  • Ketoconazole, usually found in shampoos, gels, creams and foams
  • Terbinafine, sometimes prescribed in the form of an oral tablet

For reducing the inflammation and discomfort, your doctor may also prescribe corticosteroids like:

  • Hydrocortisone
  • Desonide
  • Betamethasome

There are certain side effects associated with some of these medications, which is why many people prefer using natural and home remedies for eczema scalp treatment. Given below are a few simple home remedies for treating seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp:

  • Apple Cider Vinegar: Dilute some apple cider vinegar in an equal amount of water and apply the solution on to your scalp. Leave the mixture on for at least half an hour, before washing it off with cool water and a mild shampoo.
  • Epsom Salt: Dilute a small amount of Epsom salt in clean water and use the solution to rinse your scalp. This should reduce the flaking almost instantly
  • Olive Oil: Heat a small amount of olive oil and apply it directly on to the flaking scalp while it is still warm. Leave the oil on for at least an hour, before washing it off.

These home remedies are quite safe if used correctly, but it is best to consult a doctor before trying any of them.