How can I prevent painful dry scalp

Scalp changes

The scalp is exposed to a lot of stress every day: Frequent hair washing, aggressive care products, but also sunlight, dust and sweat demand a high level of resistance from the actually sensitive organ. Thick hairs are also not entirely unproblematic. Although it provides good protection against solar radiation, it is also the gateway for bacteria and fungi. Because every hair pierces the surface of the skin with its hair follicle, making it possible for pathogens to penetrate there.

If the scalp hair is missing or is very thinned, e.g. baldness, which occurs in many men over years and decades, the risk of other diseases increases. Since the scalp is very exposed and therefore exposed to dangerous UV radiation, careful sun protection is an absolute must. Otherwise there is a risk of benign and malignant skin tumors later in life. Non-healing, crusty, bloody changes on the scalp are often the first signs of a skin tumor.

Some scalp diseases are also inherited and are particularly difficult to treat. These include autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis and lupus erythematosus. It is typical for both diseases that the skin changes occur in bursts, for example after physical and psychological stress or exposure to light.

Dandruff is a side effect of many scalp diseases. A small amount of flaking is normal and is not noticeable. Dandruff is simply a large collection of dead horny cells that come off the scalp by scratching or on their own. But if something is wrong with the scalp, hundreds of horny cells cluster together. If they trickle easily from the head onto clothing, they are a sign of dry skin - which is harmless. If they are sticky, this indicates a very oily scalp. This sometimes means that fungi are growing on the scalp or that the scalp's immune system is not working properly. In practice, many skin and internal diseases come into question (see the following overviews).

Symptoms, their causes, measures and self-help

  • Reddened, flaky spots on the scalp; possibly vesicles; possibly hair loss; Healing with scars

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  • Round scalp areas of various sizes with broken, blunt hair; flour-dusty dandruff; possibly healing with scars

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  • Purulent-yellow, round flakes (1–2 cm in size) on the scalp; bad smell; first dull hair, then hair loss; Scarring

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  • Red scalp focus with larger scales; about the size of a lentil to a coin; Apparently disappeared at times, then come back

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  • Scaly, red scalp focus with crusty, bloody skin defects; slow growth; spurts apparent improvement; circumscribed hair loss

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  • In the next few days to the family doctor or dermatologist if scaly herds persist for a long time and you are older than 50 years

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  • Sharply demarcated, reddish foci of the scalp with yellowish, greasy scales; Foci also on forehead, nasal fold, chest, back; often in infants and young men

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  • Sharply demarcated, reddish foci of the scalp with silver-gray scales and crusts; often severe itching; Also on the elbows, knees, palms of the hands, soles of the feet; often nail changes, e.g. B. yellowish spots, depressions

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  • Very itchy, reddened and often oozing foci with blisters and scaly crusts in babies; often also foci on the cheeks; Scratch marks, inflamed and open areas

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  • Very itchy, inflamed scalp v. a. behind the ears, on the back of the head and neck; possibly whitish, scale-like lice eggs (nits) on the hair shaft

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  • Reddened, tender nodules or lumps; often with a plug of pus in the middle; possibly fever

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  • Spherical elevation (the size of a pea to a walnut); pressure elastic or coarse; Hair is far apart or completely absent

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  • Reddish-brownish, often pearlescent, slowly growing nodule; Raised edge, enlarged vessels, often fine bleeding and crusts

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  • Dark (dark brown or black), irregularly shaped spot; raised, dark, nodular swelling of the skin; fine bleeding

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  • Circumscribed, pitted scalp areas with partial or complete hair loss

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Reddened, flaky spots on the scalp; possibly vesicles; possibly hair loss; Healing with scars

Root cause:

Measure:

  • In the next few days to the family doctor or dermatologist

Round scalp areas of various sizes with broken, blunt hair; flour-dusty dandruff; possibly healing with scars

Root cause:

  • Microsporia (fungal infection of the scalp and hair, mainly in children)

Measure:

  • In the next few days to the pediatrician, family doctor or dermatologist

Purulent-yellow, round flakes (1–2 cm in size) on the scalp; bad smell; first dull hair, then hair loss; Scarring

Root cause:

Measure:

  • In the next few days to the family doctor or dermatologist

Red scalp focus with larger scales; about the size of a lentil to a coin; Apparently disappeared at times, then come back

Root cause:

Measure:

  • In the next few days to the family doctor or dermatologist

Self help:

  • Sun protection cream or headgear, v. a. with thin hair
  • Regular self-monitoring from the age of 45

Scaly, red scalp focus with crusty, bloody skin defects; slow growth; spurts apparent improvement; circumscribed hair loss

Root cause:

Measure:


In the next few days to the family doctor or dermatologist if scaly herds persist for a long time and you are older than 50 years

Self help:

  • Sun protection cream or headgear, v. a. with thin hair
  • Regular self-monitoring from the age of 45

Sharply demarcated, reddish foci of the scalp with yellowish, greasy scales; Foci also on forehead, nasal fold, chest, back; often in infants and young men

Root cause:

Measure:

  • In the next few weeks to the family doctor or dermatologist

Self help:

  • For severe dandruff, cures with dandruff shampoo (e.g. Terzolin® Gel)

Sharply demarcated, reddish foci of the scalp with silver-gray scales and crusts; often severe itching; Also on the elbows, knees, palms of the hands, soles of the feet; often nail changes, e.g. B. yellowish spots, depressions

Root cause:

Measure:

  • In the next few weeks to the family doctor or dermatologist

Self help:

  • Refrain from blow-drying, tinting, dyeing, perming, and wearing hats for long periods of time
  • Scalp care as recommended by the doctor

Very itchy, reddened and often oozing foci with blisters and scaly crusts in babies; often also foci on the cheeks; Scratch marks, inflamed and open areas

Root cause:

  • Cradle cap, the first symptom of neurodermatitis in 50% of children

Measure:

  • In the next few days to the pediatrician when the symptoms first appear

Self help:

  • Loosen the crusts with baby oil, then wash off with baby shampoo
  • If the itching is severe, moist pads

Very itchy, inflamed scalp v. a. behind the ears, on the back of the head and neck; possibly whitish, scale-like lice eggs (nits) on the hair shaft

Root cause:

Measure:

  • On the same day to the pediatrician, family doctor or dermatologist

Self help:

  • Pay attention to the risk of infection
  • Let the kindergarten, school and friends know
  • Treatment and delousing of the environment (explained in the case of head lice)

Reddened, tender nodules or lumps; often with a plug of pus in the middle; possibly fever

Causes:

Activities:

  • Go to the family doctor the same day if you have a fever or underlying illnesses such as diabetes
  • In the next few days, if the changes don't heal spontaneously

Self help:

  • In the case of "immature" boils, possibly pull ointment (e.g. Ichtholan® ointment)

Spherical elevation (the size of a pea to a walnut); pressure elastic or coarse; Hair is far apart or completely absent

Causes:

Measure:

  • On occasion to the family doctor

Reddish-brownish, often pearlescent, slowly growing nodule; Raised edge, enlarged vessels, often fine bleeding and crusts

Root cause:

Measure:

  • In the next few days to the family doctor or dermatologist if a lump grows

Self help:

  • Sun protection cream or headgear, v. a. with thin hair
  • Regular self-monitoring from the age of 45

Dark (dark brown or black), irregularly shaped spot; raised, dark, nodular swelling of the skin; fine bleeding

Causes:

Measure:

  • See your doctor or dermatologist immediately if a dark patch of skin or birthmark (nevus) bleeds, changes, or looks irregular

Self help:

  • Sun protection cream or headgear, v. a. with thin hair
  • Regular self-monitoring from the age of 45

Circumscribed, pitted scalp areas with partial or complete hair loss

Root cause:

Final stage of various inflammatory skin and scalp diseases, e.g. B.

Measure:

  • In the next few days to the dermatologist

Your pharmacy recommends

If the doctor has found a disease that requires treatment, such as a fungal attack, only the medication prescribed for you will help. In addition, there are a few things you can do yourself to keep your scalp healthy:

Gentle hair wash.

When washing your hair, be careful not to strain your scalp excessively. You may benefit from a hypoallergenic shampoo or a shampoo that suits your hair type. After washing your hair, rinse the shampoo several times so that no residue remains in the hair or on the scalp. It is important that the water is not too hot. Lukewarm water (approx. 37 ° C) is ideal. The scalp also tolerates air-drying hair better than the use of a hairdryer.

Protection against UV radiation.

Sunburn on the head is not only painful, but also significantly increases the risk of skin cancer. A sun cream with a high sun protection factor offers at least short-term protection for bald people. You should wear a hat, especially if you are outside for a longer period of time, e.g. when cycling.

Humidify air.

Not only sweat and sebum, but also dry air attacks the scalp. Especially in winter in heated rooms it is therefore often necessary to provide artificial help in order to ensure a healthy climate. Instead of humidifiers, bowls filled with water that are placed on radiators can also help. Large plants are also a good alternative.

Avoid chronic stress.

The (head) skin is a mirror of the soul - and accordingly reacts not only to physical, but also to psychological influences. Even in otherwise healthy people, the scalp is affected by stress without adequate recovery phases. But this applies even more to everyone who suffers from diseases such as psoriasis or lupus erythematosus. Here chronic overload and excessive demands often trigger a disease flare-up. Make sure you relax consciously after your day at work - and take breaks every now and then within a long day.

Authors

Dr. med. Arne Schäffler; Dr. med. Brigitte Strasser-Vogel; in: Gesundheit heute, edited by Dr. med. Arne Schäffler. Trias, Stuttgart, 3rd edition (2014). Editing: Sara Steer | last changed on at 10:24


Important note: This article has been written according to scientific standards and has been checked by medical professionals. The information communicated in this article can in no way replace professional advice in your pharmacy. The content cannot and must not be used to make independent diagnoses or to start therapy.