Skin Conditions for a Flaky and Wet Scalp

Man combing his hair
Man combing his hair (Image: Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

A healthy scalp is often under-appreciated until something goes wrong. Then, the discomfort and physical problems of the scalp can become very uncomfortable and embarrassing. If you develop flaking or wetness on the scalp, it shouldn't be difficult to determine the cause of your scalp irregularity. However, the "wetness" is more than likely an excessive amount of oil present on the skin.

Identification

Flaking of the skin tends to cause the skin cells to break off from the scalp in large, white scales. These scales can get stuck in the hair and cling to clothing. Often the flakes are visible from several feet away, making them easy to spot in a mirror. Wetness is likely the result of oil production in the pores of the scalp--excessive oil can cause a wet feeling on the scalp and at the base of hair follicles.

Possible Causes

Dandruff is the most common cause of flaking scalp problems, and oil on the scalp also occurs through this. Seborrheic dermatitis is a common form of skin inflammation that can develop in the scalp as well as at other locations on the skin. In some cases, a severe sunburn can also cause damage to the skin that later results in flaking of the skin cells and apparent wetness of the scalp.

Symptoms

In addition to flaking and oiliness and/or wetness of the skin, itching and inflammation are common in scalps suffering from dandruff. Itching is also common with seborrheic dermatitis, as is redness of the skin, and the irritations can appear in lesions sporadically across the scalp or covering one large area. In extreme cases, hair loss is possible. Sunburn can cause sensitivity on the skin, swelling, hotness to the touch, and fluid-filled blisters on the skin.

Risks

Sunburn has few short-term risks, but in the long term it can increase your risk of developing skin cancer. Dandruff is a minor condition and is mostly a cosmetic problem in addition to its physical discomfort, but it can become more difficult to remove the longer it exists. In extreme cases, seborrheic dermatitis can open up the skin to more dangerous and damaging bacterial and fungal infections.

Treatment

Dandruff can be addressed with an anti-fungal shampoo designed to kill the cause of dandruff and heal the skin. Seborrheic dermatitis may also benefit from these shampoos, and in some cases lotions can also be beneficial, according to Medline Plus. Sunburns will heal on their own over time, but you should avoid popping the blisters on your skin. Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) will help handle the pain and reduce inflammation in the skin.

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