Scalp diseases can affect the head from the neck to around the ears and up to the forehead. They are common among young children, especially those in childcare centers. Children with scalp disorders may experience discomfort and pain and may not be able to explain fully to parents what is hurting.
If you are reading this page you probably have a child that is suffering from a scalp condition that you are worried about. Please note the following information is note designed to aid self diagnosis. Professional advice should always be sought when a child is suffering from a scalp condition. The following paper describes some common conditions that may affect children, some of which may affect the hair and scalp.
Dandruff (Pityriasis Simplex Capitas)
Dandruff is a popular collective name signifying a scaly flaking scalp condition.
In a simple context ‘Dandruff’ will allude to Pityriasis Simplex Capitis (syn. pityriasis sicca) a non-inflammatory scalp condition which presents as exfoliation of the Stratum Corneum (outer layer of epidermal cells) due to the presence of Pityrosporon Ovale (syn P. Mallasez).
‘Dandruff” is common to either gender and shows no affiliation to race or skin colour.
Human skin manufactures and sheds cells continually in vast numbers. Clothing assists in this shedding. Scalp hair contains these exfoliated cells which may articulate to form scales. Pruritis (Irritation) may occur in some cases.
In many cases dandruff is a result of the child failing to clean the scalp adequately. If a simple shampoo does not control the problem then professional advice should be sought especially in children. There are many other conditions in children that may well start off as dandruff which eventually turn into a more sinister scalp condition.
Certain hair products may increase severity. These include hair dyes, gels, mouses and waxes etc. Stress is another likely factor that should be taken into consideration when discussing causes.
Please note that in most cases dandruff can be controlled using the right techniques. However, removing the problem may be difficult. Homeopathic medication may help.
Head Lice (Pediculus Capitis)
Head lice (pediculus capitis) are animal parasites (living off a human host). They measure 1-3mm in length, are grey in colour, wingless and have six legs. They tend to be found near the hairline at the nape and around the ears. Head lice seek warmth and human blood to survive. The female may produce a total of 300 ova in a lifetime (9-12 per day). Head Lice can’t jump! Each leg is equipped with a claw by which it clings to hair shafts. It has two antennae.
Females with long hair are at greatest risk due to risk of contact with others. Infestations occur without regard to social status or levels of personal cleanliness. Adults are significantly less vulnerable to infestation.
Head lice pass to others by direct contact – head to head, sharing head wear, combs and brushes. Head lice survive on combs brushes, chair backs, hats, scarves for up to 48 hours.
Chicken Pox should be a consideration when discussing children’s scalp conditions. A highly contagious illness that affects children in most cases between 5 and 9 years. Adults may be affected in which case symptoms tend to be far more severe.
Symptoms at early stages include: headaches, feeling unwell, a slight fever and skin rash. Anything between 10 & 21 days after exposure the presence of a red itchy rash may appear in company with spots that may appear on the scalp as well as chest, back face and limbs. The spots present themselves as small fluid filled blisters which in time open and crust over. Other spots may appear (for 5 – 7 day). Infecting og others may being 1 – 2 days prior to the rash appearing and after the last of the new blisters have appeared.
Care should be taken to avoid scratching as scarring may result. Severity may vary from a mild rash with little irritation or chicken pox that causes hundreds of spots with a high fever (up to 105 degrees).
Treating such a condition tends to be that of reducing irritation. However, your GP should be informed on this condition at the earliest opportunity. Recovery from chicken pox tends to take approx 10 days. Chicken pox scabs taken about 2 weeks to fall. Medication may be offered in the form of anti-virals in cases of teenager and adults. Complications may well be apparent in cases of adult. Chicken pox vaccination should take place at 12-18 months.
Measles presents as a viral infection (passed to nose or throat of others) that causes symptoms that include a cough, high fever, sore throat and a rash that may appear 2-4 days after infection. This rash tends to affect the face and neck, which then spread down the body and onto limbs. The rash may appear for 5-8 days after which they will flake off.
Other measles symptoms include ear infection and pneumonia which may affect 1 in 10 sufferers. Other serious complications in cases of measles include: convulsions, brain inflammation and death.
Your child is contagious up to four day prior to the appearance of symptoms and until the rash and fever has dissapeared. It should be noted that after exposure for 8-12 days there tends to be no symptoms. After which apparent symptoms appear which include: a cold (like symptoms) cough (dry) eys that are red and swollen, nasal congestion, a fever that may be high (103 – 105) and sneezing.
Treatment may be required. Your GP should be informed of this at the earliest opportunity.
Traction Alopecia – the epilation of hairs through over tightened hair styles for example: ponytails, cane rows, plaits and using hair extensions.. The hair is pulled out over a period of time often undetected until visible signs of baldness are apparent. In some cases the hair will regrow. Unfortunately so too often is it the case where the hair loss is permanent.
Scalp Eczema presents as a group of non contagious acute or chronic scalp conditions characterised by erythema (inflammation), oozing, skin thickening, formation of papules, vesicles (blisters) and crust. Pruritis (itching, often severe) leads to self manipulation to cause bleeding. A burning sensation often accompanies scalp conditions such as scalp eczema. May affect all ages.
In children this type of condition is often considered to be “cradle cap”.
Secondary infection may be present. Scalp Eczema in most cases can be controlled, however it is not considered curable. Affected skin is susceptible to flare ups. Scalp Eczema is categorised into environmental and internal.
Advice should be sought in cases of eczema in children.
Seborrhoeic Dermatitis simply means an oily skin condition which bare resemblance to the various Pityriasis conditions viz Pityriasis Simplex capitas, Pityriasis Circinata, Pityriasis Rotunda, Pityriasis Steatoides etc. Pityriasis is a genus of non-pathogenic yeast-like fungi which produce fine spores but no mycelium. It proliferates in “Dandruff ‘ and ‘Seborrhoeic Dermatitis’ and in the following conditions prefixed ‘Pityriasis.
Children affected by such a condition may suffer in various ways including lack of sleep due to itching. Treatment should be sought.
Please view our page on Seborrhoeic Dermatitis for further information.
Scalp RIngworm (syn. Dermatophytosis Capitis) or Tinea Capitis is a fungal infection that affects the hair and scalp. Ringworm may affect other regions of the body however this paper will discuss only the hair and scalp.
The term ringworm is used as this highly contagious condition may present symptoms such as a ringed patch. However, ringworm does not involve a worm.
Alopecia Areata is a common problem of scalp seen in children. There could be a single patch of hair loss or multiple patches usually round in shape. Most of the times it is self limiting and hair regrowth happens on its own but in some cases it can expand and may affect the total scalp or hair of the entire body.
If you feel your child could be suffering from any of the above conditions contact us on 9322681717 for a proper diagnosis and treatment.