Dandruff / Itchy scalp
Dandruff in incredibly common and is caused by the overgrowth of a yeast called Malassesia on the scalp. The body’s immune system reacts to the yeast and causes inflammation leading to slight scalp redness, itch and fine scale.
Children with scalp inflammation may have scalp ringworm. This is a fungal infection, which is important to diagnose and treat, because it sometimes causes scarring and permanent hair loss and because it is infectious so that other children at home or school may be at risk.
Other rarer causes of scalp itch and inflammation include discoid lupus erythematosus and lichen planopilaris, which dermatologists can diagnose and treat following a small biopsy of scalp skin under local anaesthetic.
What is the Best Treatment for Dandruff?
A good treatment for twice weekly use of a shampoo containing ketoconazole (an antifungal medication) which is available over the counter in pharmacies (e.g. Nizoral shampoo). It is important to leave the lather on in the scalp for 3-5 minutes before rinsing it away.
What are the Other Causes of an Itchy Scalp?
Several other scalp conditions cause redness itching and scale and dermatologists are used to seeing patients with these problems. Scalp psoriasis is common, and can be very troublesome, causing thick scales to form. Scalp psoriasis is usually best treated with a combination of medicated shampoos, leave-in-overnight scalp applications and sometimes tablet treatment for the most severe cases.