3 Reasons You Might Have A Red Flaky Scalp

Many experience dry or flaking skin, especially during the colder months, and the scalp is one of the most common areas effected. But the true culprit behind the head scratching and flakes on the shoulders may be more than just cool weather. The truth is, there are a few dermatologic conditions that can cause this common skin concern.

Seborrheic Dermatitis

Psoriasis skinOften called dandruff or cradle cap in babies, seborrheic dermatitis is common type of eczema characterized by yellow or brownish scales and a more greasy appearance on the skin. “The cause of seborrheic dermatitis can be related to stress, yeast colonization or an immune dysregulation in the skin,” says Dr. Adam Mamelak, a board certified dermatologist in Austin, Texas. This condition can resolve on its own, but can often require medicated shampoos or topical preparation to treat the problem.

Contact Dermatitis

This form of eczema is another common cause for skin irritation that can lead to a flaking and red scalp. “Allergic contact dermatitis is caused when your skin comes into contact with a substance or chemical that elicits an allergic reaction,” Dr. Mamelak explains. This can often be attributed to an allergy to a fragrance or preservative in a soap or shampoo, or even a hair dye or deodorant. Deciphering the cause of the dermatitis and avoiding the inciting agent is the best way to control the irritation, while anti-inflammatory products can be used to control flares.


Psoriasis is a common and often chronic skin condition that presents as red, raised, scaly plaques on the skin. “The scalp is one of the most common areas affected by psoriasis,” says Dr. Mamelak. “It also, unfortunately, can be associated with other symptoms like itching, hair loss and considerable emotional stress.” For the scalp, medicated shampoos and topical steroids can often control the condition. In stubborn and more extensive cases, steroid injections, oral and even systemic medications are additional options for controlling the disease.

Contact Us

Dr. Mamelak treats dermatology patients, performs skin surgery and laser procedures at Sanova Dermatology. Are you looking to get your irritated and flaking scalp under control? Contact us today so we can create the right treatment plan for you!


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