Scalp Rash Meaning, Causes, Symptoms, Itching, Non-Itchy, Hair Loss, Treatment and Remedies

Scalp Rash Meaning, Causes, Symptoms, Itching, Non-Itchy, Hair Loss, Treatment and Remedies

What does these rashes on my scalp mean? Do they indicate any worrying about my body health condition?

Scalp rash is an inflammatory reaction of the scalp skin. Rash on scalp can be caused by a wide range of mild to serious diseases, disorders or conditions. In some cases, the presence of scalp rash may be a forewarning for other problems elsewhere in your body such heart, liver or kidney disorders. In other words, scalp rash can be due to localized or generalized causes.

This post will explore more on scalp rash meaning, causes, symptoms, Treatments and more.

What is the meaning of scalp rash? – Formation

A rash is an inflammatory reaction of a skin that can result to swelling, reddening, or blotching of the affected area. A rash usually occur alongside bumpy, scaly, flaky or pus-filled bumps.

Not just on scalp, a rash can occur on scalp, face, nose, legs, stomach, bottoms and more parts of the body.  The occurrence or the patterns, shape, size or color of these rashes normally vary.  The severity will also depend on causes and medical history of a patient.

A skin rash can be itchy or non-itchy and can equally affect men, women as well as children. The vulnerability depend on the exposure to the triggers or causes. According to Dr. Aruna Prasad, Consultant Dermatologist and Cosmologist, “rashes on the scalp could be of various reasons. One is using of cosmetics. So use of a particular shampoos, hair oil or hair dye can cause rashes. Another thing could be hair root infections and another”

Scalp Rash Meaning, Causes, Symptoms, Itching, Non-Itchy, Hair Loss, Treatment and Remedies
Scalp Rash Meaning

Scalp rash causes – why do I have a rash on my scalp

In case you have the problem of developing rash on your scalp, below are the most common causes for scalp rash:

1.      Allergic reactions

The scalp skin can become irritated when it comes into contact with allergens such as cosmetics, soaps or detergents. Irritants such as ingredients found in shampoo, conditioner, hair gel and other beauty products might also irritate the skin on the scalp leading to development of scalp rashes.

Such reactions are usually referred as irritant dermatitis. Symptoms such as itching, swelling, or small bumps may accompany the rashes, and can easily lead to secondary infections.  Try to avoid hair care products that have harsh chemical ingredients, fragrance or dye since they play a greater role in the occurrence of scalp rash.

2.      Scalp psoriasis

This is skin condition that usually present alongside thickened, red and scaly patches on the skin. Psoriasis can develop at any age but very common between the age of 15-25. It is likely to run in families but can also be triggered by these conditions: certain medications, injury to the skin, infections, emotional stress. Though the exact cause of psoriasis is not known, it has been linked to autoimmune disorders.

Psoriasis can cause a rash in any part of the body. According to, “these patches are frequently seen on the elbows, knees, back, buttocks, and scalp, and they are usually seen on both sides of the body.”

scalp rash due to psoriasis
scalp rash due to psoriasis

Treatment for psoriasis may include topical steroids, calcipotriene, topical immunosuppressants and more.

3.      Bacterial Scalp Infections

Bacteria are the most common microbes on human body. There are certain bacteria that occur on the body naturally and form part of the normal skin flora. We should bear in mind that not all bacteria are harmful but some many of them are linked to diseases. Bacterial infections are among the causes of rash on scalp. Here are various types of bacterial infections that can be associated with scalp infections:

a)      Folliculitis

A bacterial skin infection can potentially contribute to one having scalp rash. It occurs in people of all races, ages and both sexes. It is due to inflammation of one or more hair follicles in the skin and it is common in areas of skin irritations such as sites of shaving or skin friction. Scalp skin can be irritated during shaving or when one is putting on unreasonable sizes of hats, helmets.

scalp folliculities rash picture
scalp folliculities rash picture

b)      Scalp Impetigo

This is a common bacterial infection of the superficial layers of the skin. When it extend deeper on the skin, it will be referred to as cellulitis. The bacteria that are connected to the occurrence of impetigo are Streptococcus pyogenes or Staphylococcus aureus. This condition will often cause rash on the scalp as a secondary infection to head lice, fungal infections or other scalp diseases.

scalp impetigo rash
scalp impetigo rash

4.      Fungal infections

Fungi can also be responsible for many scalp problems including scalp rash. Actually, what leads to scalp skin condition here is the overgrowth of fungi or the skin reaction to the presence of fungi leading to skin inflammation that may lead to rash on scalp.

There are two known types of fungi-yeasts and dermatophytes. All these types can lead to development of scalp problems (rash). Below are some common scalp fungal infections:

a)      Tinea Capitis

Tinea Capitis head rash
Tinea Capitis head rash

This is the most common type of fungal scalp infection that can any age but is more prevalent in children. It is caused by various species of dermatophytes and results to round, ring-like rash that is usually called scalp ringworm. This can be very itchy and can result to hair loss on the scalp. Other symptoms also include pus-filled bumps on the scalp (kerions).

More risk factor for Tinea Capitis are:

  • Having minor scalp skin injury
  • Lack of bathing or washing the hair on regularly basis.
  • Having wet skin for longer period of time

b)      Yeast

There group of yeast that are usually found on the skin surface, and they are often called malassezia. They are often not harmful but can trigger some scalp skin conditions under certain conditions. They can cause seborrheic dermatitis or certain type of folliculitis. Malassezia can also lead to some non-infectious diseases like psoriasis.

5.      Viral Scalp Infections

Viral infection can also contribute to the occurrence of rash on scalp, though they are not common triggers as fungal and bacterial infections. Below are some of the viral infections that can lead to rash on scalp.

  • Herpes simplex virus (HSV): This is linked to the development of cold sores on the face as well as folliculitis on the scalp.
  • Herpes zoster or shingles may also involve the scalp and can be extremely painful.
  • Chickenpox: this is one of the common viral infections that can trigger scalp lesions in children and may presence as tiny blisters.

6.      Seborrheic dermatitis

scalp rash due to seborrhoeic dermatitis
scalp rash due to seborrhoeic dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis usually known as dandruff or cradle cap is type of scalp eczema that can lead to many scalp skin conditions including a rash. According to, “That red, itchy rash on your scalp that has flaky scales could be seborrheic dermatitis, or seborrhea. It’s a common skin disease that looks similar to psoriasis, eczema, or an allergic reaction.” It is actually caused by overproduction of sebum especially in those with weakened immune

This scalp problems can be due to stress, certain medications, yeast, genetics, cold or dry weather. This condition risk is worsened in people with conditions or diseases such AIDS, epilepsy, heart attack, psoriasis, rosacea among others.

7.      Headwear Rash (Hats, cap and helmet)

Headwear can also trigger scalp rash. This is normally associated with miliara (Sweat rash). This condition occurs when sweat ducts are blocked close to the surface of skin. This will lead to a scalp rash with clear blisters that break easily.

Headwear such as hat, cap and helmets can lead to blockage of sweat ducts especially at the base of scalp.

8.      Infestation of Head Lice

Head Lice is a nuisance parasite known all over the world. It is feeds on human blood and is commonly found in the scalp hair and sometimes in the eyebrows and eye lashes. The reaction of the scalp skin and the saliva or the lice eggs may lead to scalp skin condition as well as the following symptoms:

  • An itchy scalp
  • Small red bumps on the scalp skin
  • Inflammation of the scalp skin
  • The presence of lice eggs on the shaft of the hair
  • Difficulty in sleeping

9.      Dry scalp conditions

Dryness of the skin is the major cause of itchy skin accompanied with rash anywhere in the body including the scalp. Although there are sebaceous glands on the scalp that usually produce oil that lubricates the scalp skin, sometimes there may be conditions that lead to insufficient production of this oil.

Possible causes of dry scalp include hormonal disorders, harsh weather, and frequent wash of the scalp among others. Dry skin is vulnerable to dandruff and other skin infections that may lead to rash on scalp.

10.  Hair Braids and Extensions

Some hair styling may tend to discourage one from washing his/her and this may lead to itchy scalp accompanied by scalp rash. In many cases, you will find people not washing their hair to avoid undoing or weakening the styling products. This may trigger irritation of scalp skin leading to rash on scalp skin.

Other causes of scalp rash

Less common causes or triggers of rash on scalp include the following: nervousness and anxiety, Acne Necrotica Miliaris, Lichen Planus, bites from other insects, Hair loss, poor diet, trauma, direct sunlight exposure and more.

Signs & Symptoms of Scalp Rash

There are wide ranges of symptoms that will occur alongside scalp rash. They will also depend on the underlying causes. This means that, the resultant rashes will vary in terms of severity, size, shape, color, pattern of occurrence, and so on.

Another thing we must put clear is that, the presence of rash on scalp can also indicate some serious condition elsewhere in the body. So any scalp rash symptom should be taken seriously whether mild or severe. Here are the common scalp rash symptoms:

  • Itchiness on scalp or scalp inflammation
  • swelling and bruising of scalp skin
  • Development of small fluid-filled blisters that will oozes when scratched
  • Hair loss
  • Itchy scalp bump can lead to sleepless night
  • Scaly scalp or flaky scalp skin
  • Itchy dry scalp
  • Scalp sore
  • Red spots on scalp
  • dry patches on scalp

Scalp rash can be accompanied by other life-threatening symptoms. In such a case, prompt medical response is necessary. This will help to manage certain causes such as infections or allergies that can turn serious. It is always good to diagnose the specific cause and treat it. Consult your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Itchy rash and non-itchy rash on scalp

Rashes on scalp can be itchy or non-itchy depending on their primary cause. The presence of rash on the scalp is usually annoying condition but it can even be worse if the resulting rash become extremely itchy. Although the severity of a rash is not determined by its itchiness, itchy rashes can lead to scratching that may result to horrible secondary infections.

Before we explore more on the causes of itchy scalp rash, we must acknowledge that certain factors or conditions causing itchy rash can also be the same to non-itchy rash. Below are the common causes of itchy scalp rash:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Contact dermatitis
  • Dry scalp skin
  • Certain medications
  • Eczema
  • Insect bites and stings
  • Dandruff
  • Impetigo
  • Shingles

Scalp Rash and Hair Loss

According to, “hair loss occurs when this cycle of hair growth and shedding is disrupted or when the hair follicle is destroyed and replaced with scar tissue.” So there many skin conditions that can lead to scalp rash and at the same time cause hair loss. Since there are many types of hair loss (medically termed alopecia), finding the exact cause may be not be easy, however, medical experts can do the right diagnosis. This section will cover the common causes of scalp rash and hair loss and they include.

  • Seborrheic dermatitis
  • Psoriasis
  • Follicle infection
  • Tinea Capitis
  • Boil
  • Sunburn
  • Scar alopecia
  • Trichotillomania

Some of the above causes of scalp rash and hair loss can lead to permanent hair loss while some can just lead to temporary hair loss. The good news is that many of the above conditions are treatable.

Scalp Rash Treatment including Home Remedies

Many of scalp skin conditions that lead to scalp rash can be healed but some are not curable though they can be managed using some drugs. Medications that are recommended for scalp problems are:

  • steroid creams,
  • moisturizers for dry skin,
  • retinoid creams,
  • coal tar (which available in shampoos, lotions and bath solution),
  • biologic treatments,
  • enzyme inhibitor,
  • antihistamines,
  • antibacterial and
  • Antifungal medicines.

These medications can be taken orally or topically or through injections. Remember some of these medications are stronger that can lead to very dreadful side effects. Furthermore, some medications such as oral antibiotics can be just too stronger for children to bear with.

Although the above medications can be very effective for you scalp rash, before you spent a lot of money running up and down to acquire such expensive medications, why don’t you try these wonderful and effective home remedies for Scalp rash?

Home Remedies for Scalp Rashes

Here are some home remedies, which you can try for treating those scalp rashes in a very natural way:

Application of Turmeric

This one is a wonderful home remedy that can potentially cure many problems relating to skin or hair. It has got amazing antibacterial properties which would quickly cure the scalp skin conditions. You only need to apply turmeric and water in the affected scalp skin regularly until the rashes completely vanish.

tumeric home remedy for scalp rash
tumeric home remedy for scalp rash

Fresh Aloe Vera Gel

According to, Aloe Vera is the master solution for all rashes on the body. It can potentially reduce the burning sensation due to scalp rashes without posing any side effect.

Apply aloe Vera gel on the affected area and then allow it to sit there for about 15 minute before washing off using water. This would clear the rashes and make your hair stronger, shiny and infection free.

Aloe vera juice can help your scalp rash
Aloe vera juice can help your scalp rash

Baking Soda

This is another home product that has all the nutritional and nourishing properties that will help you to make your scalp hair healthy and free from all kinds of infections.  When you wash your hair using baking soda, you will be amazed only to find strong scalp with shimmering and silky hair.

baking soda remedy for for your rash on scalp
baking soda remedy for for your rash on scalp

Honey Cinnamon Paste

Honey and cinnamon paste will have a soothing and cleansing effect on your scalp. It will also get rid of the offensive scalp rashes. Honey and cinnamon powder is mixed then used to massage the scalp. This will fight the infectious bacteria and other harmful elements that would causes rash on scalp.

honey cinnamon for scalp rush
honey cinnamon for scalp rush

§  Apply Apple Cider Vinegar

This is one of the stunning home remedy that you must use to get rid of a rash soon. It has amazing healing properties, which can eliminate all the scalp rashes.

Apple cider vinegar has been widely used to treat many skin conditions and thus can be extremely effective for any scalp problem; it is also the best weapon for the burning and itching sensation accompanying rashes. Just apply some apple cider vinegar on the rashes and then rinse. You will actually get amazed with the results.

Apple cider vinegar remedy for head rash
Apple cider vinegar remedy for head rash

More home remedies for scalp rashes

Here are home remedies that can just perform effectively as the above ones: olive oil, flax seeds, vitamin E oil, Tea tree oil, yogurt, papayas among others.


Scalp rashes have many causes which lead to mild or sever symptoms. Fortunately, the causes and triggers can often be diagnosed from proper examination of the scalp. In severe cases of scalp rash where OTC drugs and home remedies are inappropriate, scalp biopsy may be performed to confirm underlying cause.

List of References
  1. Diagnosis of scalp rashes:
  2. Causes of a Rash on the Scalp Skin:
  3. What’s Causing My Scalp Condition:
  4. Scalp Problems:
  5. Itchy Scalp or Neck:
  6. Scalp Problems (Head Skin Pictures) Causes and Treatment:
  7. Itchy Scalp – Pictures, Causes and Treatment:
  8. 10 Home Remedies For Scalp Rashes: