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Scalp Skin: How is it Different than Regular Skin?

By HERWriter
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Skin all over the body is made up of various layers, but skin in certain places feels and behaves differently. Our scalps are made up of five layers with only the outer layer actually being skin. The first three layers: skin, connective tissue and the layer where muscles attach, are bound together as a single unit. The next layer is only loosely connected and allows our scalps to move around on our heads as well as creating a space for blood vessels and nerves to pass. The last layer lines the bones of our skulls.

Scalp skin is some of the thickest skin in the body as it carries more blood than skin in other places. This abundance of blood vessels is why we bleed so easily when something injures our scalp. A scalp hematoma or “goose egg” can form if blood pools in the space between the skin and the muscle layer from a blow to the head. If this occurs, a medical exam should be done to ensure that there is not further damage to the brain.

In addition to growing head hair, scalp skin is different because it has more sebaceous (oil) glands than other skin areas. This increased amount of oil can cause a range of scalp conditions such as: sebaceous cysts, scalp acne, seborrhea dermatitis or dandruff.

Sebaceous cysts are non-cancerous pocketed bumps that are filled with fatty material called keratin and old cells. They can be extremely tender and possibly need to be drained or removed if they become enlarged.

Scalp acne can be caused by a variety of reasons including: stress, hormones, diet, heredity, and excess caffeine in addition to poor hygiene and excess oil accumulation. One of the concerns of having scalp acne is that it can contribute to hair loss. Use of oil based hair products can aggravate scalp acne.

Seborrhea dermatitis is thought to be caused from excess skin oil along with an overgrowth of a yeast called malessizia. White or yellow scales develop on the scalp that flake and are extremely itchy. Seborrhea dermatitis can resemble scalp psoriasis so must be evaluated by a dermatologist to decide treatment.

Dandruff is called by a combination of both an oily and dry scalp and similarly to seborhea dermatitis may involve the over growth of yeast or fungus but it is a much milder condition. White flakes of old cells are sloughed off from the scalp but there is no formation of scales like in seborrhea dermatitis.

Scalp skin is truly different than skin in other places and problems may develop that can be hidden or are aggravated by the hair on our head. If you are having problems, it is best to have your scalp seen by a dermatologist to decide which condition you have and the best treatment.



Michele is an R.N. freelance writer with a special interest in woman’s healthcare and quality of care issues. Other articles by Michele are at www.helium.com/users/487540/show_articles

Add a Comment4 Comments


I'm sorry to hear that lioness111, I hope the new treatment is able to keep your cancer under control. take care.

September 25, 2010 - 6:41pm

Michele, I wish that the cause of my illness was past. I have recurrent Breast Cancer. After 8 years it showed up in my lungs. I am recieving a
different form of treatment right now. Thank you for your answer! Sincerely yours, Lioness111

September 25, 2010 - 5:51pm

Hi Lioness111, Glad you enjoyed my article. I have not heard of what you describe but I have a few ideas. The baby wipes may have had something soothing in them that was calming to your scalp in a formulation that is different than lotion. Baby wipes have softners and oil in them and are designed to clean but create sort of a barrier to protect the skin. Perhaps also by rubbing your head with such a gentle cloth it helped to turn off some of the itching sensation. Glad you are past the treatment and cause of your illness. take care.

September 25, 2010 - 12:18pm

Michele, your article was very interesting. I have never experienced any
scalp problems until I was being treated with two strong chemos and with steroids. The itching is at times very intense ! I started using these baby wipes made of cloth, fragrance and alchol free, to wipe my bald scalp. This did help the problem. Have you ever heard of this? Sinceely your, Lioness111

September 25, 2010 - 11:07am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.