Head sores range from peeling skin to red lesions on the scalp and head. These sores may occur as a result of infections, medical conditions and/or infestations. Head sores are usually associated with itchy skin conditions that cause continuous scratching of the head and scalp. Once sores form on the head, harmful bacteria can enter the wounds and infect various parts of the body, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The most common types of head sores are seborrheic dermatitis, scalp psoriasis and head lice. Treatment consists of prescription creams and ointments.
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Seborrheic dermatitis is a common type of head sore. Seborrheic dermatitis is an inflammatory skin condition that consists of flaky white or yellow scales or dry, peeling skin, according to MedlinePlus. The scales usually form on oily areas such as the scalp, the inside of the ear, eyebrows, eyelids or in the creases of the nose, but they can arise anywhere on the body that produces oil. MayoClinic.com states that seborrheic dermatitis typically occurs when the body produces excess amounts of malassezia, a fungus that grows in bodily oil secretions. It is also triggered by stress; fatigue; a change of season; or certain medical conditions, such as HIV, AIDS or Parkinson's disease. Symptoms typically include skin lesions, large plaques, itchiness, reddened skin and/or hair loss.
Another type of head sore is called scalp psoriasis. Approximately 50 percent of people who have psoriasis have it on their scalp, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation. Scalp psoriasis usually consists of mild, slightly fine scaling, but it can also consist of thick, crusted plaques or sores that cover the entire scalp. Scalp psoriasis can spread past the hairline onto the forehead, the back of the neck and around the ears.
According to the website Psoriasis Net, symptoms can include thick, red plaques; dry, flaky skin; itchy skin; bleeding sores on the scalp; a burning sensation; and/or a temporary loss of hair. These symptoms typically come and go. Some people may only experience one mild flare, whereas others may have frequent flares that are triggered by stress, cold weather or a dry environment.
Head lice are another type of head sores that primarily affects children. Head lice are tiny, wingless, parasitic insects that live and feed on blood from the scalp. This infestation is the second most common contagious skin disease among school-age children, according to MayoClinic.com. Contracting head lice does not signal bad personal hygiene or an unsanitary living environment; it is usually spread through direct contact or by sharing personal belongings. The CDC states that head lice can be found on the head, eyebrows or eyelashes and move by crawling around the hair shaft.
Symptoms of head lice include severely itchy skin, adult lice the size of a strawberry seed behind the ears and along the sides of the neck, and/or lice eggs on the scalp that resemble dandruff flakes that cannot be simply brushed out of the hair. People with head lice develop scalp sores when they continuously scratch their scalp in response to the intense itchiness. In severe cases, bacteria can enter the sores, infecting the skin and spreading to other parts of the body.