Living With Scalp Eczema

If you’ve got scalp eczema and are struggling to get it under control, don’t worry it’s possible, even without using medication. I did it and so can you.

In this post, I’ll be talking about my struggles with scalp eczema and how I managed to overcome them. Keep reading to hear my story and for some useful tips that you can utilize as well.

I think I was about 16 when I first realized I had a skin problem. My younger sister walked into my room one day while I was getting dressed and asked me shocked “what’s that on your back?!”

I was surprised and confused by her tone and the look on her face and simply asked; “what?” then proceeded to the mirror to take a look at my back (no I never look at my back in the mirror) and to my horror, there were these huge dark blotches on my back.

Panic then set in because I wasn’t itchy or feeling anything unusual and I started wondering how long my back had been like that. After a while I just ignored the blotches because they weren’t really doing anything, they were just there.

Eventually, I saw a doctor (GP) and long story short; I was shown some pictures of people who had similar marks on their bodies and diagnosed with Pityriasis Rosea.

After a while, nothing changed so my mom took me to a dermatologist (this was about 10 years after my sister pointed out the blotches and my initial diagnosis by the GP) who after an external examination diagnosed me with Pityriasis Versicolor.

I started treatment but still nothing, in fact, it got worse…

I was seeing a dermatologist who gave me pills and creams and voila; the blotches on my back were no more. Then one day I felt a strange bump on my head which I then showed to the dermatologist upon my next visit and it went downhill from there. This was when the nightmare started!

I went on treatment for Pityriasis Versicolor and it consisted of shampoos and creams (I hated them). I was using Selenium Sulphide shampoo which is what doctors prescribe for treating Pityriasis (I even Googled this).

Basically, I was told that my body was producing too much yeast (called Malassezia; which is naturally found in the skin) and the shampoo would let’s say …kill it.

Problem is, the treatment started making me itch but I assumed this was a side effect. I then made the biggest mistake of not following instructions and instead of using the Selenium Sulphide shampoo like I was told to, I started using it daily hoping it would work faster.

Well, guess what? All I did was aggravate my scalp further.

It got so itchy and I kept scratching and it started oozing but I continued washing it. I then went back to the doctor to ask her what the hell was going on only to be told that I was overdosing on the treatment; she had told me to shampoo once a week and I was stupidly shampooing EVERY DAY to stop the itch but that’s what was worsening the itch.

My scalp had become severely inflamed because of my over-shampooing, so she bandaged my head with what they call a “wet wrap” which was a combination of some creams and treatment to alleviate the inflammation. For the first time in weeks, I felt some relief. I kept the wet wrap on for a week and it got so much better. Let me tell you I followed instructions to a T after that.

There was a point during all of this when my hair started thinning out and looking patchy which I came to discover was a side-effect of the Selenium Sulphide shampoo. I just decided to shave it all off without any hesitation.

It turned out that that was the best thing I could have done for myself because it allowed my scalp to actually breathe and it accelerated the healing. My scalp became less scabby and better looking because the treatments were no longer being absorbed by my hair; they were seeping nicely into my scalp.

My dermatologist prescibed some pills to control my condition and after some time I was taking so many different pills I even bought myself one of those pillboxes with the days of the week; just to keep track.

They helped me a heck of a lot though because they allowed me to go back to my normal itch-free life. A few months later, my dermatologist decided to do a test because the treatment should have done its job by then. A piece of my scalp was cut off and sent to the lab for testing. I was then diagnosed with scalp eczema.

I’d never in my life experienced an itch like that. I think I would rather be in pain.

My head was itchy 24/7 especially when it was hot and it was summertime. I couldn’t sleep in my own room for a while because it was just too warm in there so I resorted to sleeping in the main lounge (this lasted until a break-in, but that’s a story for another day). This lasted for a few weeks I think until my body went back to normal.

I remember waking up some morning with pieces of dead skin next to me that had fallen off my head from the friction between my head and my pillow. This was a pretty much daily occurrence and even I found it disgusting.

Basically any time I touched my head; pieces of dead skin would flake off. It was an extremely embarrassing time. After all, I felt like I was being judged because my head was dirty all the time and the skin flakes were visible. 

Apparently, this was all part of the healing process. I was so angry with myself for all that stupid washing I was doing that lead to all this.

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My scalp eczema had a huge impact on my social life. It turned me into someone who was always either angry or irritable and I HATED my body.

I even called my dad one day, crying because I was so emotionally drained I just wanted it all to stop.

I couldn’t understand why my body was doing all of this.

He suggested I exercise and make sure I eat right but the exercising part was impossible. I tried but at the slightest sign of sweat, I’d start itching uncontrollably again.

I couldn’t go out because my head would randomly start oozing and itching and this sticky liquid would start running down my face from my scalp. From oozing it was just flakes, flakes and more flakes. I’m talking about flakes of dead skin that fell off at the slightest touch.

Yeah, for me it was as disgusting as it sounds.

It got to a point where I just accepted that this was my life now. I simply stopped caring and didn’t see the point in trying to look good if I was going to be walking around with flakes of dead skin on my shoulders anyway.

Washing my hair daily became routine and I tried a variety of shampoos.

One that worked for me was a moisturizing tea tree shampoo (Google gave me this idea). Tea tree is a natural anti-inflammatory used to fight skin infections (I Googled this).

I also made sure to keep my scalp moisturized using hair foods made from natural ingredients like coconut oil and tea tree and sure enough, my scalp started to feel normal again.

Flash forward to today, my life is good. I can exercise and do all the things I love and I feel great. It’s like none of this ever happened. I follow a healthy diet, drink lots of water and exercise. As for the itching; it has completely subsided.

I eventually stopped seeing a dermatologist because I no longer had medical aid but my scalp eczema hasn’t flared up as it did back then in years.

Please note that I am in no way blaming the dermatologist for anything I went through as it was explained to me that this was all part of the process. Sometimes things get worse before they get better.

In any case, had I listened and not over-shampooed in the early stages then I would have gotten things under control a hell of a lot sooner.

My scalp is now in the best condition it has ever been and I am eternally grateful for that. 

Symptoms

  • red & scaly scalp
  • flaking scalp (LOTS of dandruff)
  • intense itching or burning sensation in scalp
  • oozing lesions on the scalp

Tips I Can Give From Personal Experience

  • Keep your scalp clean by washing it, minimum of once per week, and be gentle when washing, do not scratch or scrub vigorously. Let the flakes come off by themselves. 
  • Moisturize your scalp using hair food, do not let it get too dry – I recommend using Gela Hair Food which you can get from Clicks and I hear Rosemary hair food works just as well (the more natural the better). Dryness leads to itching which leads to scratching which eventually leads to oozing
  • Follow a healthy diet and drink plenty of water
  • Exercise regularly as sweat helps your body flush out toxins
  • Keep stress to a minimum – when I was stressed it took even longer for me to feel better. I know it’s hard not to stress when your body is doing funny things but trust me it helps 
  • Let the affected area breathe, covering your head will only make it worse because eczema does not like heat
  • Follow the directions your doctor gives you properly, don’t skimp – the medication does work if you give it time
  • Keep a positive attitude – I saw personally that a positive mindset makes a huge difference. I started to feel better when I changed my attitude towards what I was going through, it will pass!
  • Resist the urge to scratch the itch, it can get intensely itchy but scratching will lead to broken skin and bleeding. I wore elastic bands around my wrist and whenever I felt the need to scratch my head, I fiddled with the elastic bands instead
  • use shampoos and products with tea tree oil
  • Remove visible flakes gently with a comb (I would recommend a wide-toothed comb); make sure not to scratch the scalp while doing so.

There was a time when I had resorted to just keeping my head shaven or my hair really short because it was just easier to manage the flakes and I thought that having braids was out of the question. Thanks to YouTube, I have discovered just how to keep my scalp clean and fresh even with braids. I just gotta make sure to wash them.

Scalp eczema is indeed a pain in the but it is treatable. As far as I know, there is no cure for eczema; you just have to learn to live with it. I now have the situation under control. I’m not taking any medication; just washing my hair at least once a week and keeping my scalp clean and moisturized. 

Should I skimp on the moisturization part; I’ll go back to combing chunks of dead skin off my head and believe me it’s nasty!

I’ve been using Dermatol for the past few months to keep my scalp moisturized; it feels great on the scalp and contains menthol which has a rather soothing effect. I just love it!

I didn’t grow my hair because keeping it short was more convenient. For the first time in YEARS, I did braids and I managed to keep them clean and fresh looking ( scalp eczema and all) for a month!

I just washed them (I watched YOUTUBE videos for tips and tricks), I learned how to wash my braids at home myself in a way that will keep them intact and washed them at least once a week using shampoo.

I recently discovered that over-oiling my scalp can lead to excess dandruff. It’s best to use something light and use enough. Use a little bit of moisturizer on your scalp to avoid excess build-up and keep your scalp clean.

My scalp hasn’t peeled or had huge dandruff flakes since I stopped oiling it so much.

I’ve been using ORS Creamy Aloe Shampoo and let me tell you, it feels so GOOD. Your hair and scalp feel moisturized after every wash. I would highly recommend that you try this product.

I have ethnic hair so I don’t know how this shampoo works on other hair types.

Learning what aggravates your body is key to fighting and preventing breakouts and living a healthy lifestyle goes a long way.

I’m at a point where I’ve stopped cutting my hair and am confident enough to have braids done without worrying about them looking filthy. YouTube taught me how to wash my braids without messing them up so that I can keep them looking clean and fresh.

If you have scalp eczema, the one thing you must remember is TEA TREE OIL. It’s a huge game-changer for me because of its antifungal and antiseptic properties ( exactly what’s needed to fight scalp eczema).

I also suggest that you try Dermatol to oil your scalp ( I love this product). Don’t oil too much or you’ll just end up causing build-up. Once a week after washing is usually enough for me.

In closing, I would just like to reiterate; if you think you have scalp eczema please seek professional advice for an official diagnosis.

You can treat and manage scalp eczema at home.

P.S ALCOHOL was one of my aggravators. I noticed that when I drank excessively the symptoms such as excessive flaking and itching would start returning, so keep the drinking at a minimum.

Try my tips and get that scalp eczema under control!

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