If you’re already losing your hair, it’s hard to imagine having to deal with one more thing. And we get it. Losing your hair is frustrating, to say the least. But the reality is that in addition to your hair loss, there are a few hairy issues (see what we did there?) that you might have to deal with.
But don’t worry: Some of the most common hair issues you’ll face seem scary at first, but are often very treatable.
Pseudofolliculitis barbae is the textbook definition for razor bumps, which most guys are familiar with. For the sake of keeping things simple, we’ll refer to them as razor bumps for the rest of this section.
According to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, razor bumps are a common skin condition that occur as the result of shaving. After a shave, ingrown hairs can grow back into the skin and cause inflammation (read: bumps).
The most obvious symptom to look out for is itching or pain in the area you typically shave. You might also see patches of darkened skin or in advanced cases, actual bumps in affected areas.
For severe razor bumps, you could try using a topical cream such as hydrocortisone to relieve any pain or itching, or a tretinoin cream to prevent bumps in the first place. Be sure to use tretinoin as directed because using too much can cause irritation. If your razor bumps are minor, you can use an over-the-counter face wash with benzoyl peroxide.
Speaking of bumps, pilar cysts are bumps that appear on your scalp. They’re non-cancerous cysts that may be slightly more uncomfortable than the razor bumps we just discussed above.
Cysts might sound scary, but researchers find that they’re typically no cause for alarm. They occur in about 10% of the population, making them the most common skin cysts.
According to the British Academy of Dermatology, pilar cysts are round, sometimes dome-shaped bumps, lying just under the skin surface. They may also be defined by a small, dark plug. In some cases, they’ll ooze what they describe as a “cheesy-smelling pus.” We know, never what you want to hear.
Since these are non-cancerous cysts, they do not require immediate treatment. However, a doctor may excise them to relieve symptoms and discomfort. Less severe instances of pilar cysts tend to resolve on their own.
OK, this is the last type of bump we’ll bring up. According to the Cleveland Clinic, there are several forms of folliculitis. But no matter which type you have, each one leads to inflammation, infection, or irritation of hair follicles. And you can probably guess what this looks like on your scalp when it shows up? That’s right—bumps.
You’ll see swollen patches, which can often have the appearance of pimples on the scalp. In severe cases, these bumps may also be crusty and have a burning sensation.
The Cleveland Clinic suggests a regimen that consists of antibacterial cleansers, warm cloths, and anti-itch creams. More severe cases may require a prescription antibiotic.
If you’ve been lucky enough to avoid dandruff to this point (or wondered what it actually was), here’s a quick definition: It’s a common condition that causes the scalp to flake. As we explained in a previous post, it’s frequently associated with the scalp but can also occur in other places—including your eyebrows. While this has been a source of embarrassment for generations, the good news is that it’s rarely serious.
The symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis are easy to identify. They include skin flakes on your scalp, hair, eyebrows, or even your clothes. Additionally, you may experience itchiness on your scalp.
Seborrheic dermatitis is annoying, but very treatable. More often than not, a specialized shampoo is the most effective course of action. One of the more popular choices is called ketoconazole, which is available as a prescription or over-the-counter. Not only does it help treat dandruff, but it also can reduce the side effects of minoxidil.
Many articles on tinea capitis that you’ll find on Google will make you think that it’s time to write a will. So before we get into this, take a deep breath and don’t worry—it’s not nearly as bad as the internet doctors want you to believe.
Tinea capitis is also known as ringworm of the scalp. According to the Mayo Clinic, it’s a fungal infection of the scalp and hair shafts. Unlike the previous conditions we explored in this post, tinea capitis is highly contagious. If you think you might be suffering from this, it’s important to get a diagnosis as soon as possible to prevent yourself from spreading it.
The telltale signs of tinea capitis include redness, itching, scale formation, and alopecia. You should also be on the lookout for patches of small black dots where the hair has broken off at the scalp. These patches may grow or expand over time.
Your doctor will likely prescribe an antifungal topical treatment or shampoo to mitigate the symptoms of tinea capitis. Some of the most popular antifungal medications include griseofulvin and terbinafine, both of which are prescribed for six-week periods.
If you’ve ever watched late-night TV, you’ve seen dozens of commercials about treatments for psoriasis. The National Psoriasis Foundation describes it as an immune-mediated disease that causes inflammation in the body. “About 2% of the population can develop psoriasis,” says Keeps Medical Advisor Dr. Raman Madan, “and most of them have some involvement of their scalp.”
The culprit? An accelerated skin growth that builds up instead of flaking away like dandruff.
A tell-tale rash. It’s usually red, scaly, flaky, and sore.
To treat this condition doctors often prescribe topical treatments such as corticosteroids and retinoids. For moderate to severe cases, your doctor may inject a steroid or other drugs directly into the affected site.
(P.S Take control of psoriasis flare-ups with a Facet treatment plan that targets your skin concerns.)
We explored some common, but uncomfortable (and serious) hair and scalp issues. And while we didn’t mean to cause any unnecessary panic, knowing about these conditions in advance will help you identify symptoms early—and the earlier you can identify them, the faster you can find the right treatment plan.
The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely upon the content provided in this article for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.
Ketoconazole is an antifungal medicine used to treat certain kinds of fungal or yeast infections. When used as prescribed, ketoconazole is generally safe, but it also can cause side effects. Contact your doctor immediately if you experience allergic reactions like skin rash, itching or hives, swelling of the face, lips, or tongue, pain, tingling or numbness. For full prescribing information, view the drug label information.