A dry, itchy scalp can be uncomfortable and embarrassing, particularly when it leads to dandruff. One cause of these symptoms is scalp eczema, a medical condition that can affect people at any age but commonly occurs in adults between 30-60 years of age and infants younger than three months old. Scalp eczema is formally referred to as seborrheic dermatitis, which means it is inflammation of the skin that contains glands which produce oily sebum, in this case on the scalp.

Burning Scalp - Scalp EczemaScalp Eczema Can Give a Burning Scalp Sensation

The redness, itchiness and burning scalp are all markers of the exaggerated inflammatory response that causes scalp eczema. Though the mechanism isn’t thoroughly understood, researchers believe that some patients with seborrheic dermatitis are overreacting to organisms that naturally occur on the skin.

Other factors include changes in the body that occur with age and fluctuating hormones. Some people with conditions that suppress the immune system are also at increased risk. It’s important to understand that scalp eczema is not an allergy, is not contagious, and is unrelated to personal hygiene.

What Are the Symptoms of Scalp Eczema?

Common symptoms of scalp eczema include:

  • Patches of skin that are red, scaly, flaky, and/or greasy and waxy
  • Itching and burning sensation
  • Areas of skin that ooze or weep
  • Dandruff
  • Changes in skin color after the patches heal

Keep in mind that these symptoms can be seen in other conditions as well and are not limited to scalp eczema.

What Triggers Scalp Eczema?

There are some environmental conditions that may trigger an episode of scalp eczema for some people. These include:

  • Illness or stress
  • Fluctuating hormones
  • Cold, dry weather
  • Certain chemicals, including shampoos and detergents
  • Certain medications
  • Heavy alcohol use

What Can Ease Scalp Eczema?

The treatment of scalp eczema involves three primary goals: calming the inflammation, soothing the itch, and loosening the dry skin (scale). There are over-the-counter remedies available, such as specially formulated shampoos, that can be used to provide relief, though they will not cure scalp eczema. Keep an eye out for active ingredients that include salicylic acid, coal tar, and zinc. It is also important to consider overall scalp health as it relates to hair loss in men and women.

Sometimes a doctor will recommend a topical antifungal medication to help reduce the microbes of the skin. In severe cases, a doctor may also prescribe corticosteroids, powerful medications that work to calm the body’s immune system. However, because they can lead to other side effects, prolonged or excessive use of corticosteroids is not recommended, and these drugs must be used under the supervision of a doctor.

Finally, a natural, over-the-counter option is the use of tea tree oil, which has been used for centuries. Tea tree oil has antifungal, antibacterial, and calming properties that can help soothe and reduce scalp eczema when applied to the area. However, it can cause irritation if overused.

At Transitions International, our hair loss prevention program products were designed by doctors and hair loss experts to provide unmatched results for men and women combating hair loss, thinning, and damaged hair of all types. To schedule a free consultation at the studio center you click here.