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Crusty Spots on the Scalp

By Nicki Howell ; Updated August 14, 2017

Seborrheic dermatitis is a common skin condition that is easily treated, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. This skin condition causes crusty red spots on the scalp. The spots may be itchy and uncomfortable. Although this condition isn’t harmful, it can be irritating and a source of embarrassment. Treatment options may assist in keeping seborrheic dermatitis under control.

Causes

Seborrheic dermatitis is caused by a variety of factors. Malassezia, a type of yeast, may be responsible for developing crusty spots on the scalp, according to MayoClinic.com. Stress and fatigue can also increase the likelihood of developing this condition. Outbreaks are typically worse in the winter time, when skin is more likely to be dry.

Treatments

Nonprescription lotions containing corticosteroid can be applied to the crusty spots to minimize inflammation. An anti-fungal topical cream that includes the active ingredients ketoconazole or ciclopirox can also be applied to the affected skin, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. A medicated shampoo that contains tar, ketoconazole or salicylic acid can also assist in treating seborrheic dermatitis.

If skin isn’t responding to nonprescription treatments, your doctor may recommend a stronger prescription version of over-the-counter products.

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Considerations

Avoid using shampoos that contain fragrances and irritants, recommends MayoClinic.com. If skin is itchy, take a warm bath with a little bit of oatmeal to soothe the scalp. When taking showers, prevent excessive scalp dryness by using warm water instead of hot water. It’s also important to avoid scratching the scalp, which increases your risk for scarring and infection.

Misconceptions

Some people think that seborrheic dermatitis is most likely to occur in adults. Babies can also develop this condition, however. It is then referred to as cradle cap. Use a mild baby shampoo or your baby’s hair. Loosen dry patches of skin by applying baby oil to the scalp and rinsing with a gentle cleanser. Brush the hair after the treatment to further slough off dry skin.

Warnings

Patients struggling with seborrheic dermatitis should contact a doctor. This condition may occur in patients with underlying health issues in the nervous system, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Patients with immune system disorders may also be at higher risk for developing this condition. Your doctor can evaluate your overall health to determine if an underlying cause is to blame.

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