How to Identify Scalp Rashes

Updated April 17, 2017

Skin rashes and conditions can affect anyone from babies to the elderly. Some types of dermatitis, or inflammation of the skin, are very common, such as a scalp rash known as seborrheic dermatitis, or dandruff. It is important to properly identify and treat these symptoms because they may be common and curable skin rashes and allergic reactions, but they may also be signs of more serious health conditions, such as skin cancer.

Identify symptoms on the scalp, using a mirror, such as redness, changes in skin colour, skin lesions or swelling. A red, itchy or a painful scalp is a common sign of a rash.

Note the appearance, the location, and the colour of the rash. This information will aid the doctor in making a correct diagnosis and treatment suggestion.

Identify if there are small, boil-like infections located around a hair shaft. If so, the rash could be identified as folliculitis, which is a hair follicle infection. The majority of these will heal on their own.

Clean the area of the scalp thoroughly and use a topical antibiotic ointment.

Determine whether the edge of the scalp is itchy, appears red, scaly, flaky, or has an oily rash. These are symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis, or dandruff.

Wash affected areas on the scalp with shampoo that contains zinc pyrithione, salicylic acid or selenium sulphide.

Identify if there is a bald spot on the scalp or an itchy red ringlike formation anywhere on the skin. Use a mirror. to check. These symptoms are identified with ringworm. Treat the infected area with anti-fungal cream or topical medication.

Determine if there are grey, tan or pink scaly bumps or patches on the scalp, using a mirror. If these signs are present, it may be actinic keratosis. This is a skin condition that particularly affects people with light-coloured skin and who have been badly sunburned. This condition may lead to skin cancer.

See a doctor if any of these symptoms spread or continue to cause discomfort that interferes with daily routines.

Things You'll Need

  • Mirror
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About the Author

Based in New York City, Sherry Mao has been a professional writer since 2010. She will be bringing expertise in a wide range of areas from do-it-yourself projects, to healthy living, to traveling. After teaching for the past several years, she is currently attending New York University for her Master of Arts in English literature.