What are the Different Types of Scalp Problems?

Patti Kate

There are several types of scalp problems that may affect a person, some of which are dandruff, scalp psoriasis, and scalp eczema. A common condition is dry scalp. A yeast infection or a fungal infection may also cause scalp problems.

A sebaceous cyst on a scalp.
A sebaceous cyst on a scalp.

For many individuals, dandruff is a common annoyance and issue. This may be created by a dry scalp or caused by hereditary conditions. This common condition of the scalp causes flaky pieces of dry skin to shed from the scalp. For some people, dandruff can be a recurrent issue and made worse by environmental conditions, such as dry air.

Dandruff is a common scalp problem.
Dandruff is a common scalp problem.

Dandruff is a problem with the scalp that can be controlled by the use of medicated shampoos. In many cases, dandruff causes scalp irritation or itch. Limiting exposure to harsh shampoos and other chemicals on the hair can also help.

Head lice are scalp problems that typically affect children.
Head lice are scalp problems that typically affect children.

Scalp problems caused by head lice or hair lice often occur in children who are exposed through personal contact at school or other places. Although anyone may contract head lice, it is more commonly seen in children due to sharing hairbrushes and other accessories. Hair lice are parasites, which means they live off human blood. These insects embed themselves in the scalp and hair of victims, where they lay their eggs and reproduce. They lice eggs are almost microscopic in size and cannot be easily detected by the naked eye.

Dry scalp is a common scalp problem.
Dry scalp is a common scalp problem.

Common symptoms of head lice are uncontrollable itching and red patchy areas on the scalp. There are specially formulated preparations made for killing head lice and their eggs. In addition, the person needs to discard all clothing and bed clothes with which he has come in contact. Washing all articles of clothing or linens in the hottest possible water may also destroy the parasites.

Specially designed combs are used to remove lice and nits from the scalp and hair.
Specially designed combs are used to remove lice and nits from the scalp and hair.

Scalp psoriasis is a common condition that causes problems for many individuals. This is a genetic condition that cannot be spread from person to person. There are various levels of scalp psoriasis. Patches of inflamed areas on the scalp may become infected if constant itching occurs. Medications may control the disease, although there is no cure.

Head lice are common among children but can affect adults, too.
Head lice are common among children but can affect adults, too.

Another skin condition causing scalp problems for many is known as scalp eczema. This condition may cause flakiness and areas of intense itching as well. Medications, ointments, and special shampoos may help control symptoms.

Yeast and fungal infections may cause damage to the hair follicles if left untreated. These infections not only cause scalp problems, but in severe cases, may pose a threat to general health and well being. A dermatologist may properly diagnose the condition and prescribe a course of treatment.

Use of harsh shampoos may cause a dry scalp.
Use of harsh shampoos may cause a dry scalp.

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Discussion Comments


I used to think that psoriasis only affects skin. But no, it can affect the scalp as well. In fact there are people who suffer only from scalp psoriasis.

There are quite a few conditions that can affect a scalp. The issue is that some of them can have common symptoms. So I don't think anyone should try to diagnose themselves, except for obvious issues like dandruff or lice. Other inflammatory conditions may appear very similar.


@stoneMason-- Yes, a scalp fungal infection can cause excessive oil, itching, flaking and odor.

I too had these symptoms a few months ago. I washed my hair daily but despite this, it was always oily and the oil had a strange odor to it. My scalp was always itching constantly and there was some dandruff as well. The doctor said it sounds like a fungal infection and prescribed me an anti-fungal shampoo. I used the shampoo for a week and the symptoms went away. They never returned.

I suggest seeing a doctor about your symptoms soon.


Does anyone know what symptoms a scalp fungal infection causes? Does it cause excessive oil? I've been suffering from this lately and can't figure out the cause.


@irontoenail - Even reading this article has made my scalp feel itchy. I've never had lice though. The worst I've had was an itchy, flaky scalp and apparently that was because I was using the wrong kind of shampoo. My hairdresser got me to change it and it was fine after that.


@Mor - It might also have been that you had lice or another problem when you were too young to remember, but you just got into the habit of scratching your scalp. It seems like most of the disorders of the scalp lend themselves to scratching.

My mother got so sick of us picking up lice at school (we would always share our hats and brushes and things) that in the end she made us all have very short haircuts for a few years.

I thought that was the height of injustice when I was a kid, but luckily I didn't look all that bad with short hair and she didn't make us shave it off or anything, like I've heard some parents do.


When I was a kid I found the biggest problem I had with my scalp was that I would be a bit compulsive about scratching it. I didn't really have any problems like lice or dandruff, so I can remember deliberately putting sand in my hair just to scratch it back out again.

I was only about five or six I think though and I quickly grew out of this weird habit, but I can definitely see how people can end up with those disorders where they will pull out their own hair, or chew on it or whatever. I think it's probably some kind of leftover impulse from the grooming behaviors a lot of primates tend to indulge in.

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