Itchy, Non-Itchy Scalp Rash Causes, Pictures & Treatments

What do these rashes on my scalp mean? Do they indicate something worrying about my body health condition? This post will explore more on meaning, causes, symptoms, Treatments and more.


Scalp rash refers to a change in color, texture, appearance of the scalp skin that might be accompanied by inflammation, itchiness, the appearance of bumps, and so on.

It can be caused by a wide range of mild to serious diseases, disorders or conditions. In some cases, its presence may be a forewarning for other problems elsewhere in your body such heart, liver or kidney disorders. In other words, it can be due to localized or generalized causes.

Meaning and formation

A rash is a reaction of a skin that can result in swelling, reddening, or blotching of the affected area. A rash usually occurs alongside bumpy, scaly, flaky or pus-filled bumps.

Not just on the scalp, it can occur on face, nose, legs, stomach, bottoms and other parts of the body.  The occurrence or the patterns, shape, size or color of these rashes normally vary.  The severity will also depend on causes and medical history of a patient.

A skin rash can be itchy or non-itchy and can affect men, women as well as children. The vulnerability depends on the exposure to the triggers or causes. According to Dr. Aruna Prasad, Consultant Dermatologist, and Cosmologist, “rashes on the scalp could be for various reasons.

One is using cosmetics. So the use of a particular shampoo, hair oil, or hair dye can cause rashes. Another thing could be hair root infections and another”

Why do I have a rash on my scalp

In case you have them, below are the most common causes include:

1. Allergic reactions

The scalp skin can become irritated when it comes into contact with allergens such as cosmetics, soaps or detergents. Irritants such as ingredients found in shampoo, conditioner, hair gel and other beauty products might also cause irritation leading to rashes.

Such reactions are usually referred as irritant dermatitis. Symptoms such as itching, swelling, or small bumps may accompany the rashes, and can easily lead to secondary infections.  Try to avoid hair care products that have harsh chemical ingredients, fragrance or dye since they play a greater role in this issue.

2. Scalp psoriasis

This is a skin condition that results in thickened, red and scaly patches on the skin. Psoriasis can develop at any age but very common between the age of 15-25. It runs in families but can also be triggered by these conditions: certain medications, injury to the skin, infections, emotional stress. Though the exact cause of psoriasis is not known, it has been linked to autoimmune disorders.

Psoriasis can cause a rash in any part of the body. According to, “these patches are frequently seen on the elbows, knees, back, buttocks, and scalp, and they are usually seen on both sides of the body.”

Treatment for psoriasis may include topical steroids, calcipotriene, topical immunosuppressants and more.

3. Bacterial infection on the scalp

Bacteria are the most common microbes in the human body. There are certain types that occur in the body naturally and form part of the normal skin flora.

We should bear in mind that not all bacteria are harmful but many of them are linked to diseases. Bacterial infections are among the causes of a rash on the scalp. Here are various types of bacterial infections that can be associated with these infections:

a) Folliculitis

A bacterial skin infection can potentially contribute to one having rashes. It occurs in people of all races, ages and both sexes. It is due to inflammation of one or more hair follicles in the skin and it is common in areas of skin irritations such as sites of shaving or skin friction. This irritation can during shaving or when one is putting on unreasonable sizes of hats, helmets.

b) Scalp Impetigo

This is a common bacterial infection of the superficial layers of the skin. When it extends deeper on the skin, it will be referred to as cellulitis. The bacteria that are connected to the occurrence of impetigo are Streptococcus pyogenes or Staphylococcus aureus. This condition will often cause a rash as a secondary infection to head lice, fungal infections or other diseases.

4. Fungal infections

Fungi can also be responsible for many scalp problems including rash. Actually, what leads to this condition here is the overgrowth of fungi or the skin reaction to the presence of fungi leading to skin inflammation.

There are two known types of fungi-yeasts and dermatophytes. All these types can lead to development of scalp problems (rash). Below are some common fungal infections in this area:

a) Tinea Capitis

This is the most common type that can any age but is more prevalent in children. It is caused by various species of dermatophytes and results to round, a ring-like rash that is usually called scalp ringworm. This can be very itchy and can result in hair loss. Other symptoms also include pus-filled bumps (kerion).

More risk factor for Tinea Capitis are:

  • Having minor scalp skin injury
  • Lack of bathing or washing the hair on regular basis.
  • Having wet skin for a long period of time

b) Yeast

There group of yeast that is usually found on the skin surface, and they are often called Malassezia. They are often not harmful but can trigger some skin conditions under certain conditions. They can cause seborrheic dermatitis or a certain type of folliculitis. Malassezia can also lead to some non-infectious diseases like psoriasis.

5. Viral Infections

Viral infection can also contribute to the occurrence of this problem, though they are not common triggers as fungal and bacterial infections. Below are some of the viral infections that can lead to rashes.

  • Herpes simplex virus (HSV): This is linked to the development of cold sores on the face as well as folliculitis on the scalp.
  • Herpes zoster or shingles may also affect this area and can be extremely painful.
  • Chickenpox: this is one of the common viral infections that can trigger scalp lesions in children and my presence as tiny blisters.

6. Seborrheic dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis usually known as dandruff or cradle cap is the type of scalp eczema that can lead to many conditions including a rash.

According to, “That red, itchy rash on your scalp that has flaky scales could be seborrheic dermatitis or seborrhea. It’s a common skin disease that looks similar to psoriasis, eczema, or an allergic reaction.” It is actually caused by overproduction of sebum especially in those with weakened immune

This scalp problems can be due to stress, certain medications, yeast, genetics, cold or dry weather. This condition risk is worsened in people with conditions or diseases such AIDS, epilepsy, heart attack, psoriasis, rosacea among others.

7. Headwear Rash (Hats, cap, and helmet)

Headwear can also trigger rashes. This is normally associated with miliaria (Sweat rash). This condition occurs when sweat ducts are blocked close to the surface of the skin. This will lead to bumps with clear blisters that break easily.

Headwear such as a hat, cap, and helmets can lead to blockage of sweat ducts especially at the base of the scalp.

8. Infestation of Head Lice

Head Lice is a nuisance parasite known all over the world. It feeds on human blood and is commonly found in the scalp hair and sometimes in the eyebrows and eyelashes. Their saliva or the eggs may lead to symptoms such as:

  • An itchy scalp
  • Small red bumps on your scalp
  • Inflammation of the scalp skin
  • The presence of lice eggs on the shaft of the hair
  • Difficulty in sleeping

9. Dry scalp conditions

Dryness of the skin is the major cause of itchy skin accompanied by rash anywhere in the body including on this part. Although there are sebaceous glands that usually produce oil that lubricates the scalp skin, sometimes there may be conditions that lead to insufficient production of this oil.

Possible causes of dryness include hormonal disorders, harsh weather, and frequently washing it among others. Dry skin is vulnerable to dandruff and other skin infections that may lead a rash.

10. Hair Braids and Extensions

Some hairstyling may tend to discourage one from washing his/her and this may lead to itchy scalp accompanied by a rash. In many cases, you will find people not washing their hair to avoid undoing or weakening the styling products. This may trigger irritation of scalp skin leading to a rash.

Other causes

Less common causes or triggers include nervousness and anxiety, Acne Necrotica Miliaris, Lichen Planus, bites from other insects, Hair loss, poor diet, trauma, direct sunlight exposure and more.

Signs & Symptoms

There are wide ranges of symptoms that will occur alongside this issue. They will also depend on the underlying causes. This means that the resultant rashes will vary in terms of severity, size, shape, color, the pattern of occurrence, and so on.

Another thing we must put clear is that the presence of rash can also indicate some serious condition elsewhere in the body. So any symptom should be taken seriously whether mild or severe. Here are the common symptoms:

  • Itchiness or inflammation
  • scalp swelling and bruising
  • Development of small fluid-filled blisters that will ooze when scratched
  • Hair loss
  • An itchy bump can lead to a sleepless night
  • Scaly or flaky scalp skin
  • A dry itchy scalp
  • Scalp soreness
  • Red spot on your scalp
  • scalp dry patches

It can also be accompanied by other life-threatening symptoms. In such a case, the prompt medical response is necessary. This will help to manage certain causes such as infections or allergies that can turn serious. It is always good to diagnose the specific cause and treat it. Consult your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Itchy rash and non-itchy

Rashes can be itchy or non-itchy depending on their primary cause. The presence of rash is usually annoying condition but it can even be worse if it becomes extremely itchy. Although the severity is not determined by its itchiness, this can lead to scratching that may result in horrible secondary infections.

Before we explore more on the causes of itchy scalp rash, we must acknowledge that certain factors or conditions causing itchy rash can also be the same for the non-itchy one. Below are the common causes of itchy scalp rash:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Contact dermatitis
  • Dry scalp skin
  • Certain medications
  • Eczema
  • Insect bites and stings
  • Dandruff
  • Impetigo
  • Shingles

Scalp rash and hair loss

According to, “hair loss occurs when this cycle of hair growth and shedding is disrupted or when the hair follicle is destroyed and replaced with scar tissue.” So there many skin conditions that can lead to this problem and at the same time cause hair loss.

Since there are many types of hair loss (medically termed alopecia), finding the exact cause may not be easy, however, medical experts can do the right diagnosis. This section will cover the common causes of scalp rash and hair loss and they include.

  • Seborrheic dermatitis
  • Psoriasis
  • Follicle infection
  • Tinea Capitis
  • Boil
  • Sunburn
  • Scar alopecia
  • Trichotillomania

Some of the above causes can lead to permanent hair loss while some can just lead to temporary hair loss. The good news is that many of the above conditions are treatable.


Many of conditions that lead to rashes can be healed but some are not curable though they can be managed using some drugs. Medications that are recommended are:

  • steroid creams,
  • moisturizers for dry skin,
  • retinoid creams,
  • coal tar (which available in shampoos, lotions, and bath solution),
  • biologic treatments,
  • an enzyme inhibitor,
  • antihistamines,
  • antibacterial
  • Antifungal medicines.

These medications can be taken orally or topically or through injections. Remember some of these medications are stronger that can lead to very dreadful side effects. Furthermore, some medications such as oral antibiotics can be just too stronger for children to bear with.

Although the above medications can be very effective before you spent a lot of money running up and down to acquire such expensive medications, why don’t you try these wonderful and effective home remedies?

Home Remedies

Here are some home remedies, which you can try for treating those scalp rashes in a very natural way:

1. Application of Turmeric

This one is a wonderful home remedy that can potentially cure many problems relating to skin or hair. It has got amazing antibacterial properties which would quickly cure various skin conditions in this area. You only need to apply turmeric and water in the affected scalp skin regularly until the rashes completely vanish.

2. Fresh Aloe Vera Gel

According to, Aloe Vera is the master solution for all rashes on the body. It can potentially reduce the burning sensation due to scalp rashes without posing any side effect.

Apply Aloe Vera gel to the affected area and then allow it to sit there for about 15 minutes before washing off using water. This would clear the rashes and make your hair stronger, shiny and infection free.

3. Baking Soda

This is another home product that has all the nutritional and nourishing properties that will help you to make your scalp hair healthy and free from all kinds of infections.  When you wash your hair using baking soda, you will be amazed only to find strong scalp with shimmering and silky hair.

4. Honey Cinnamon Paste

Honey and cinnamon paste will have a soothing and cleansing effect on your scalp. It will also get rid of the offensive scalp rashes. Honey and cinnamon powder is mixed then used to massage the scalp. This will fight the infectious bacteria and other harmful elements that would causes rash on scalp.

5. Apply Apple Cider Vinegar

This is one of the stunning home remedies that you must use to get rid of a rash soon. It has amazing healing properties, which can eliminate all rashes.

Apple cider vinegar has been widely used to treat many skin conditions and thus can be extremely effective for any scalp problem; it is also the best weapon for the burning and itching sensation accompanying rashes. Just apply some apple cider vinegar on the rashes and then rinse. You will actually get amazed at the results.

6. More home remedies

Here are home remedies that can just perform effectively as the above ones: olive oil, flax seeds, vitamin E oil, Tea tree oil, yogurt, papayas among others.


Scalp rashes have many causes which lead to mild or severe symptoms. Fortunately, the causes and triggers can often be diagnosed. In severe cases where OTC drugs and home remedies are not working, a scalp biopsy may be performed to confirm the underlying cause.

List of References