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Dry Skin Patches on the Head

author image Nicki Howell
Nicki Howell started her professional writing career in 2002, specializing in areas such as health, fitness and personal finance. She has been published at health care websites, such as HealthTree, and is a ghostwriter for a variety of small health care organizations. She earned a Bachelor of Science in business administration from Portland State University.
Dry Skin Patches on the Head
Keep the scalp moisturized to minimize dryness. Photo Credit RUNSTUDIO/Photodisc/Getty Images

Dry skin patches on the head are caused by a couple different medical issues, including scalp psoriasis and seborrheic dermatisis of the scalp. These dry patches can be painful and embarrassing. Patches can include a few small spots or major dry areas, covering the entire scalp. Learning the cause of dry skin patches on the scalp and choosing the right treatment will assist in getting the problem under control.


Symptoms of scalp psoriasis usually include red patches and scaling on the scalp. The dry skin on the scalp may also bleed when removed, and the dry patches may extend further than the hairline. Scalp psoriasis is usually itchy and sore. Seborrheic dermatitis typically involves dry, red and greasy skin covered with flaky yellow or white scales. The dry scaling on the skin is easily removed and dry patches are confined to the hairline. Itching can be severe and uncomfortable.


Scalp psoriasis is typically treated using topical cortisones, which are available through your doctor. The medication works to slow down cell turnover and suppress the immune systems. Topical retnoids and salycic acid are also used. More severe cases may require light therapy, available through a dermatologist. Medicated shampoos are commonly used to treat seborrheic dermatis. Over-the-counter shampoos that contain ketoconazole, tar, pyrithione zinc or salicylic acid are effective, according to MayoClinic.com. Use the shampoo each day until symptoms improve. If over-the-counter shampoos aren't working, schedule an appointment with your dermatologist. You might need a prescription-strength shampoo.

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Whether you have scalp psoriasis or seborrheic dermatis, it's important to moisturize your scalp often. Moisturizers fight dry skin and ease itching and discomfort. Also, take a daily bath or shower, which removes dry scaling. Adding oatmeal or Epsom salts and soaking in warm water for up to 15 minutes may also help. You can also apply moisturizer to the scalp and wrap the skin overnight. In the morning, wash away the scales with a shower or bath, recommends MayoClinic.com.


Some people think that a dry scalp is caused by poor hygiene; however, that isn't the case. Seborrheic dermatitis may be caused by change of season, neurological conditions, stress and fatigue, according to MayoClinic.com. Psoriasis is caused by an issue with the immune system. People with psoriasis have T-cells attack healthy skin cells.


Avoid using hot water and harsh soaps, recommends Mayo Clinic. This can make symptoms worse and aggravate the skin. Dry skin on the scalp can also be a symptom of an underlying health issue. Partner with your doctor to examine your overall health and work towards controlling your dry scalp.

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