Allergic Scalp Reactions present with differing symptoms. The cause may vary. The following shows the difference between allergic reactions (allergic contact dermatitis) and irritant reactions (irritant contact dermatitis).
Irritant Contact Dermatitis (irritant reaction)
An irritant contact dermatitis (irritant reaction) presents as an acute skin condition may be caused by exposure to chemicals, solvents, acids, alkalis, adhesives, detergents and certain plants. Severity varies and symptoms may include mild erythema, scales, swelling, vesicles (small blisters), pruritis, skin breakage, a burning sensation and a glazed appearance. Bullae (large blisters)and even necrosis (destruction of tissue) may occur in extreme cases.
Irritant Contact Dermatitis tends to affect the hands, eyes and scalp. It may affect anyone and shows no affiliation to skin colour, age or gender. Those with atopic dermatitis are particularly susceptible. Severity depends on immune strength, potency, duration of stimulus and humidity. The irritant penetrates the epidermis (destroying oils and fluids) triggering an immunological reaction. In most case, we are able to offer treatment for allergic irritant reactions affecting the scalp.
Allergic Contact Dermatitis (allergic reactions)
Allergic Contact Dermatitis results from repeated exposure to allergens (substances harmless to most, which the body is allergic). Allergic contact dermatitis may develop at any age showing no affiliation to gender. Allergic contact dermatitis tends to affect the hands, ankles and scalp. Symptoms include pruritis, erythema, swelling, oozing, scales, hyperpigmentation and a rash. Severe cases may present blisters which dry and form a crust.
Symptoms tend to become apparent within 12 hours of secondary exposure peaking after three-four days. Remission may take seven approximately days. Sensitivity may last a lifetime.
Causes of Allergic Irritant Contact Dermatitis
Shoe dye and rubber especially in training shoes. Sweat may cause an exacerbation. Leather may contain dye. Metals such as nickel-chromium found on watches and cheap earrings or costume jewellery. Rubber gloves, poison ivy, house cleaners and cosmetics. Bergamot oil found in some fragrances induces dermatitis when exposed to the sun. Ylang-ylang oil, Sandalwoods, hair dyes and lavender oil may induce hyperpigmentation. Contributory factors include pre-existing skin conditions e.g. irritant contact dermatitis, atopic dermatitis, cuts grazes, substance type e.g. acid, alkaline or salt, concentration, exposure time and frequency. Sweating may dissolve the chemical, increasing the toxicity or may dilute reducing the effects. Dry air causes chapping which may increase susceptibility.
For further advice on irritant or allergic reactions to the scalp please contact our helpline and speak to the on-call trichologists. In most cases, we can offer treatment for allergic irritant reactions to the scalp.