Whatever problem your scalp is experiencing, there is a medication or treatment for it or something that can ease your symptoms. But it is vital to know exactly what you are treating, since treatment for one problem, such as dandruff, is counterproductive if you also have dry skin. Of course, a very useful remedy for scalp problems is proper nutrition and hydration.
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Dandruff and Dry Skin
Dandruff and dry skin (xerosis) often coexist on your scalp. For dandruff, medicated shampoos that contain pyrithione zinc, salicylic acid and zinc are helpful, but they can make your dry skin worse. Add a conditioner that contains tea tree oil to your shampoo regimen. If dandruff is severe, you may need to use a topical antifungal, such as Nizoral, or an anti-infective, such as Capitrol.
Neglect of dandruff and dry skin can lead to seborrheic dermatitis, characterized by red and/or oily looking patches or crusts along your scalp line. Dandruff shampoos and topical medications can help, but your doctor may prescribe low-dose steroids, hydro-cortisone preparations, like Cortaid or a glucocorticoid, like dexamethasone.
Scalp acne -- reddened and inflamed bumps on the skin -- is usually caused by propionibacterium and staphylococcus bacterium. Treatment can include over-the-counter topical antibiotics, such as Neomycin or Bacitracin. If your scalp acne is persistent, your doctor may prescribe a broad spectrum oral antibiotic.
Scalp or Plaque Psoriasis, characterized by silvery scales on the scalp, may require prescription medication and/or ultraviolet-light treatments, but it may also respond well to over-the-counter and herbal remedies.
Scalp Ringworm or Tinea Capitis
Scalp ringworm, or Tinea Capitis, requires a course of oral anti-fungal medication, such as Griseofulvin. It is also helpful to shampoo with 2.5 percent selenium sulfide or 2 percent zinc pyrithione. Your doctor may prescribe oral steroids if you have an inflammatory type of scalp ringworm.
Folliculitis occurs when your hair roots are infected with bacteria. Infection can occur due to irritation from shaving (barber's itch) or over-tight braiding of the hair. Superficial folliculitis can clear up in a few days if you refrain from shaving or leave your hair loose. Use witch hazel to gently cleanse the area. Severe or recurring folliculitis may require an oral antibiotic.
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