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What is a Sore Scalp?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A sore scalp is an uncomfortable condition that involves itching, rashes, and often redness accompanied with a burning sensation. Often, the scalp is tender to the touch, making it difficult to comb hair or in some cases rest the head on a pillow. One of the more common reasons for a sore scalp is due to a condition known as ringworm of the scalp. Fortunately, there are effective methods to treat this and other types of scalp conditions.

One of the first things to do when a sore scalp develops is to make an appointment with a dermatologist. A thorough examination of the scalp can be conducted to determine the exact origin of the tenderness and itching sensation. Identifying the underlying cause for the soreness is imperative, as the origin and the severity of the condition will determine which treatments are most likely to clear up the problem.

It is important to note that the sore scalp may not be the result of an underlying medical condition, but is the result of an allergic reaction to a particular hair dye. There is even the possibility that soreness may develop due to tying back the hair in a severe hairstyle and thus creating a constant pull on the hair follicles. When the origin of the scalp problem is something of this nature, simple lifestyle changes will usually lead to resolution of the problem in a short period of time.

After the underlying cause for the sore scalp has been determined, the dermatologist will proceed with a series of treatments appropriate for the current status of the scalp condition. In some cases, this may involve nothing more than the use of a medicated shampoo that will help to reduce the scalp irritation and begin to clear up the rash. In cases that are somewhat more advanced, the application of topical creams and ointments may be used to supplement the medicated shampoo.

While there are many over-the-counter products that are formulated to help with minor cases of sore scalp, it is typically a good idea to obtain a firm professional diagnosis before spending time and money with these options. Non-prescription treatments may or may not address the specific reason for your discomfort. As a result, you receive no relief and may even cause the condition to worsen before finally seeking professional care.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including The Health Board, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By Sara007 — On Jun 20, 2011

Ringworm of the scalp is a huge problem for children as the fungal infection is easily spread in close quarters to those whose immune systems are still developing, or are damaged.

If your child gets a sore scalp and it appears that there are crusty patches that cause pain to your child make sure they see a doctor right away. While this kind of infection isn't overly dangerous, it is uncomfortable and contagious.

You can use a shampoo with selenium sulfide alongside the medication your doctor gives you to help rid your child of the infection. A sore scalp is never fun, but luckily ringworm is easily cured though the process can take months.

By lonelygod — On Jun 19, 2011

I say if you have recently developed a sore scalp that you should try switching your shampoo and conditioner before heading straight to the dermatologist.

I didn't know it was possible, but you can actually develop an allergy to a product even if you have been using the same thing for years. I loved my shampoo but suddenly found I was getting dandruff and that my scalp was sore.

My wife got me to use her shampoo for a little bit and the symptoms of my sore scalp went away. I think if you are having a similar problem that you should try switching you bathing products first, as doctors can be expensive.

By mendocino — On Sep 06, 2009

Good to remember that children have much more sensitive scalp than adults do.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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