The head may only take up a small proportion of the body but if there is a problem at the top end it can affect everything. Eczema of the scalp is a very common problem, and the associated itchiness can drive you mad.
There are two basic forms – that which affects adults known as Adult Seborrheic Eczema and that which affects children known as Infantile Seborrheic Eczema.
Adult seborrheic eczema
This eczema usually affects adults between the ages of 20 and 40. Seborrheic eczema tends to develop gradually and begins with itching and scaliness of the scalp which becomes red and inflamed. It is similar to dandruff except the scale is more marked and the scalp becomes inflamed.
Sufferers of eczema of the scalp will often find that it may spread down to the face, in particular the oily zones such as the sides of the nose, eyebrows and ears. It may even extend to the central chest area.
Seborrheic eczema affects areas with large amounts of oil glands. The body reacts to a yeast on the scalp resulting in the inflammation.
Most sufferers of seborrheic eczema will be especially sensitive to chemicals in products such as soaps, bubble baths and some shampoos and cosmetics. These can dry out the scalp even more and thus create an increasingly embarrassing dandruff problem. When selecting a suitable shampoo it is important to find one designed for sensitive skin that is free from the harsh chemicals.
Infantile seborrheic eczema (Cradle Cap)
A common eczema condition affecting babies usually less than 12 months of age.
Cradle cap usually starts on the scalp or the nappy area and spreads to areas where the skin rubs together like the elbows or under the armpits. This type of eczema features red, scaly patches and looks unpleasant, but it usually is not sore or itchy. Most cradle cap clears by the time the baby is 12 months old.