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The connection between scalp inflammation and hair loss explained

Having a red and itchy scalp is no fun.

Written by
Bailey Petts
Medically reviewed by
Last updated
April 22, 2024
min read
The connection between scalp inflammation and hair loss explained
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Having a red and itchy scalp is no fun — and no one wants to be rubbing their head raw. If your scalp inflammation issues alone aren't giving you enough grief, you might also notice some hair loss as well.

Whilst this can be quite upsetting, it's important to know that this is pretty common — especially if you've had scalp inflammation for a while. The good news is that with a personalised treatment plan, you can get everything under control in no time.

Stay tuned for the ins and outs of scalp inflammation and hair loss. Let's get into it!

What is scalp inflammation?

Scalp inflammation is quite a common condition where the skin on your head — and sometimes even down to your neck — becomes irritated. You might experience:

  • Flakiness
  • Scaly patches
  • Bumps on your head
  • Hair loss (which is what we're here to discuss)

While you might brush off scalp inflammation as a nuisance, if you do notice hair loss along with a sore scalp, it's best to take note of this quickly and seek help to prevent further hair loss and irritation.

The first course of action is to identify what's causing your scalp inflammation and treat it accordingly.

What causes inflammation on the scalp?

Your scalp can be a relatively sensitive area of skin and there are a few things that could irritate it.

Medical conditions that could cause scalp inflammation could be:

  • Folliculitis: An infection that starts in your hair follicles. Small sores show up on your scalp and can be very itchy and uncomfortable. This infection can occur in other areas of your body, too.
  • Scalp ringworm: A fungal infection on your scalp and in your hair follicles. It shows itself as an itchy and red rash.
  • Seborrheic dermatitis: A red, scale-like rash will appear with this skin disease and can cause excessive dandruff when scratched.
  • Psoriasis: A common skin disease that causes a thick red rash to grow — it can occur all over your body and be very itchy. If your skin gets very dry with this disease, it may bleed and crack. Psoriasis is one of the more common scalp disorders [1].

Interestingly, migraines and headaches can also cause scalp inflammation, as can external factors such as wounds, insect bites and sunburn. Scalp inflammation is commonly caused by something that has irritated the skin and in some cases, could be an allergic reaction to something.

How do I know if I have scalp inflammation?

You'll be able to tell if you have scalp inflammation as it will more than likely be uncomfortable.

Symptoms of scalp inflammation include an itchy scalp, scaly patches, dead skin cells noticeably falling out, an itchy rash, scalp redness and potential hair shedding.

Scalp inflammation and hair loss

Scalp health is very important for hair density and maintaining the structure of your hair follicles. If you're experiencing scalp inflammation, it doesn't always mean that you'll experience hair loss or hair thinning but it can contribute to this, especially if you leave it untreated for a while.

Why is that? Well, the skin around your hair follicles can become irritated and weakened, especially at the hair root, which can cause hair loss. If your scalp inflammation is causing you to have a very itchy scalp, excessive itching can also interfere with the strength and structure of your hair follicles.

It might be temporary hair loss, but for some, the hair might not grow back.

No one wants an itchy scalp and no one wants to lose their hair because of it, so if you've noticed a rash or you're very uncomfortable, it's best to check in with your doctor as soon as possible. The quicker it's sorted, the less likely you are to impact your hair follicles.

How to treat hair loss

When you treat hair loss, you want to prioritise healthy hair follicles. This means that as soon as you start noticing an overabundance of oil, excessive dandruff, an itchy scalp or a rash, you need to make sure you seek medical treatment or other remedies quickly to not affect your hair follicles.

There are a number of ways you can approach a healthy scalp and in turn, hair loss. These include:

  • Scalp massage: Revive the hair follicles and boost blood circulation on your scalp with scalp massage [2].
  • Eating a balanced diet: Make sure you're eating an abundance of hair-loving nutrients from food such as iron, zinc, selenium and vitamins A, D and E and be sure to consume enough protein as it's key for your hair's health [3].
  • Stop smoking: Cigarettes can cause decreased blood flow to your follicles and in turn, lead to hair loss. Say goodbye to smoking, especially if you're experiencing hair loss.
  • Using gentle hair products: Ensure you're using products that are gentle on the scalp while also creating a healthy environment for your hair follicles. Pilot's Hair Growth Shampoo and Conditioner, which includes saw palmetto, biotin, niacinamide and caffeine, helps create a habitat that allows your hair to survive and in turn, thrive.

While these are all worthwhile ways to encourage hair growth, you can't go past a personalised formula that is designed for your personal experience with hair loss.

Pilot's clinical hair loss treatment is tailored to your individual hair concerns and with online consults with an Aussie practitioners, you can get to the root cause of your hair loss. From here, your Pilot doctor will create a customised treatment for you.

When used in tandem, 90% of users will keep their hair and 66% will regrow their hair. Now that is something to celebrate. Your formula is delivered discreetly to your door and you can access unlimited practitioner follow-ups if and when you need them.

How do you treat an inflamed scalp?

It's relatively straightforward to treat scalp inflammation if you are able to identify what is specifically causing it.

Whether it's the result of scalp ringworm, seborrheic dermatitis or an allergic reaction, you will need to follow professional medical advice to clear it up as soon as possible. Treating skin conditions like scalp ringworm or seborrheic dermatitis will need the assistance of a doctor.

To tackle certain types of scalp inflammation, your doctor might prescribe:

  • Steroids: In the form of topical cream or a tablet
  • Anti-fungal cream or tablets: To combat a yeast infection
  • Immunotherapy medication: To support your immune system with dealing with an infection.

Environmental factors can also contribute to inflammation and hair loss, too, so just remember to use gentle skin and haircare, avoid harsh chemicals, avoid too much heat with styling tools and don't tie your hair back too tightly.

A healthy scalp and healthy hair follicles go hand in hand, and by looking after both of these things, you can try to avoid both temporary hair loss and permanent hair loss.

Medical advice and a personalised treatment plan can get you back on track with your hair regeneration journey; boost your confidence and increase your hair health today.

Photo credit: Getty Images

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