What sends Black women running to the dermatologist these days? Scalp issues. Here’s how you can treat and prevent the head-trips.

Seborrheic Dermatitis/Psoriasis
Both are inflammatory skin conditions that cause flaking. With psoriasis, the scalp is red and the flakes look silvery and thick. The flakes from dandruff, also known as seborrheic dermatitis, don’t glisten like psoriasis; they are white, even yellow. We really do not know the exact causes of either. Many believe that a buildup of oil on the scalp can contribute to both. This is one reason why you shouldn’t oil your scalp. The severity of either condition will determine whether you can remedy the situation with an over-the-counter product like Neutrogena T-Sal or prescription Salic Shampoo. Other remedies include Clobex, a steroid-based shampoo for major itching or the prescription oil Dermasmoothe, a night treatment for the scalp, which has to be washed out in the morning. Ask a dermatologist to determine what will give you relief.

Baldness at the Crown
Although there can certainly be a genetic component to this concern, Black derms are seeing an alarming amount of baldness at the crown as a result of unhealthy styling practices. Young women now outnumber middle-aged and elderly women with this concern due to too much tension and chemical abuse. “Black women are weaving, braiding and twisting locs too tightly, getting relaxers too frequently and allowing glue (from weaves or lace-fronts) to destroy their scalp,” says Elena Jones, a dermatologist in New York City.  Persistent tension or chemical abuse can damage hair follicles. Once scarring occurs, the hair is gone, often forever. “If we don’t curb these bad practices now, many of these young women will eventually be wearing wigs, because there won’t be enough hair to weave anything too,” says Jones. “You really should perm every 8-10 weeks and never should you experience headaches, small bumps or pulled-back, tightened facial skin due to tight braiding/weaving/loc twisting. If any of these symptoms occur, there’s too much tension,” adds Jones. See your dermatologist to confirm whether or not this condition is genetic or due to styling abuse.

Ring Worm

“Seborrheic dermatitis and ring worm, or Tinea Capitis, can be easily confused,” says Jones. Tinea Capitis is a natural fungus; you can get it from salons, children, anywhere. It can look like seborric dermatitis or it can include patches of broken hairs or hair loss.  Tinea Capitis needs to be treated with an oral anti-fungal prescription. A simple culture or swab test can determine whether you have ringworm or seborrheic dermatitis. This is important because if you mistakenly treat tinea capitis like seborrhea, it can make the condition worse.
Alopecia Areata
With this condition one finds discreet bald patches, often salmon colored, throughout the scalp. There’s no flaking. Experts aren’t certain what causes this condition, but many believe stress is a factor. Alopecia Areata can be treated with prescription meds. In most cases, ninety percent of the hair returns.

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