Categorized | Hair Care

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Why is My Scalp Itchy With Hair Loss?

I often write about issues of the scalp and hair. Yesterday, I got an email from someone who asked me if their hair loss could be related to their itchy, painful scalp or if one caused or contributed the other.  I’ll try to explain all that goes into the answer to that question in the following article.

Which Came First – The Hair Loss Or The Scalp Problems?: It’s actually relatively common for large amounts of hair loss and shedding to contribute to scalp issues.  In many cases of telogen effluvium or te (losing over 100 hairs per day for a significant period of time, usually caused by changes in your body like starting or stopping medications or illness), the act of many hairs going into the resting phase and being extracted / kicked out of the scalp can cause a lot of inflammation and irritation.  This alone can cause itching and pain.  And, when many hairs are trying to then regrow at once, this too can cause itching.  The scientific name for this is “burning scalp syndrome,” but even dermatologists disagree on what causes it. 

Some think it is a physical response to the changes / resting phase of many hair follicles at once, but I’ve had some doctors suggest to me that it is psychological, stemming from the stress of going through TE or hair loss. Whatever the cause, I know first hand that this is very real and can be very troubling when you are experiencing it.

Scalp Issues That Cause Hair Loss: With that said, there are some scalp issues that happen before the hair loss and are often the root cause of the shedding and loss.  Usually these conditions can be broken down into scarring alopecia (which includes conditions like folliculitis decalvans and lichen planopilaris) and severe scalp conditions like psoriasis, tinea capitis, and seborrhoeic dermatitis. Bacterial or yeast infections of the scalp can also cause inflammation and hair loss.

Scarring alopecia is typically very hard to ignore. There is generally scaling, plaque, very noticeable redness, and often patterned loss around the wound(s).  The non scarring scalp conditions can present with more diffuse or over all loss and can be harder to spot (although you FEEL the problem, even if you don’t see it.)

Inflammation Is The Common Denominator:  In cases of scarring alopecia, a doctor is typically needed.  But, sometimes cases of TE or telogen effluvium and passing seasonal scalp issues mean waiting it out, stopping the trigger that is the cause, and / or helping to reduce the inflammation and irritation while waiting for the treatments to work.  There are many natural ingredients that work well for this.  Some have anti bacterial properties as well. Examples are tea tree oil, emu oil, lavender, and cedar wood.  It’s important to handle these properly though because they typically need to be diluted, rotated and placed with carrier oils to be both effective and to prevent build up and follicle clogging.

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