Is your scalp the root of your hair loss?

When determining the cause of hair loss, very few people consider that their scalp could be the culprit. There are many reason why you might be losing your hair – genetics and ageing being the causes of androgenetic alopecia, the most common hair loss condition – but sometimes it can be worth focusing on what’s going on underneath.

There are many scalp conditions which can affect the health or otherwise of your hair follicles and the appropriate medical specialist who can help investigate the cause is a dermatologist.

Scalp psoriasis

Psoriasis is categorised as crusty, red, flaky patches of skin and it affects around 2% of the UK’s population. Over half of cases are situated on the scalp and it ranges in severity from small patches of fine scaling to a condition covers the entire scalp, sometimes extending down onto the forehead.

Though it is uncommon to lose a lot of hair as a result of scalp psoriasis, it can alter the hair’s diameter if the scaling is particularly tight. This in turn can lead to easy breakage. If you do experience significant hair loss, it’s likely to be pityriasis amiantacea, rather than psoriasis.

Pityriasis amiantacea

Often mistaken for scalp psoriasis, pityriasis amiantacea is a scaly scalp condition which is categorised by tight, scaly patches. As the condition progresses, the scales begin to overlap and stick together. This results in a build-up, which crusts over and causes the hair to matt around the root.

Hair loss can occur when the scales are removed. The loss is only usually temporary and the hair should eventually grow back.


Folliculitis is inflammation which develops within the hair follicle itself. It’s most commonly caused by bacteria, though can also be brought on due to irritation from heavy conditioners, shaving and even excessive sweating. It has an identical look to acne and as it affects the follicle, it can lead to permanent hair loss.

In its mild form, the hair will remain somewhat unaffected. It is also worth noting that only bacteria-related folliculitis will usually lead to hair loss. If the follicles are simply blocked due to excess sweating or grease, the hair won’t usually fall out. The longer the condition remains untreated, the worse it will be for your hair.

Once the condition becomes severe, it can cause intense inflammation that can lead to permanent follicle damage, resulting in patchy hair loss.

Contact dermatitis

A very small number of patients suffer from contact dermatitis related hair loss. Another inflammatory condition, it is brought on by an allergic reaction to products. In the case of hair loss, hair dyes can lead to what is known as anaphylaxis. This is a severe allergic reaction that is actually very rare.

A study has been conducted into how scalp dermatitis links to telogen effluvium. It was discovered four out of seven women who underwent the study, experienced an increase in hair loss, two to four months after suffering with scalp dermatitis.

These are just a handful of scalp conditions that can lead to hair breakage and loss. Often the problem will get worse if you fail to seek treatment and you risk permanent damage to the hair. So, determining the actual cause of hair loss is vital if you don’t want to be left with long-term damage.

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