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Check Your Symptoms
Many people have hair or scalp problems.
Hair may thin or fall out, break off, or
grow slowly. Dandruff or an itching or peeling scalp
may cause embarrassment and discomfort. Hair and scalp problems can be
upsetting, but they usually are not caused by serious medical problems.
Hair loss, including thinning and breaking,
is the most common scalp problem. Most people lose from 50 to 100 hairs per
Hair gradually thins as people age, although not all people
are affected to the same degree. Hereditary thinning or balding is the most
common cause of thinning hair. You can inherit this from either your mother's
or father's side of the family. Women with this trait develop thinning hair,
while men may become completely bald. The condition can start in the teens,
20s, or 30s.
Babies often lose their fine baby hair, which is then
replaced by mature hair. Because of changes in hormones, women often lose hair
for 1 to 6 months after childbirth or after breast-feeding is completed.
Other possible causes for excessive hair loss, thinning, or
flaking, or crusting of the scalp may be caused by:
blisters, or bumps that develop on the scalp may be caused by:
Skin cancer can occur on the scalp, particularly in
areas not well-covered by hair. It can destroy skin cells and tissues and, in
some cases, spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body. Skin cancer may
appear as a growth or mole, a
change in a growth or mole, a sore that does not heal,
or irritation of the skin. The three most common types of skin cancer are
basal cell skin cancer,
squamous cell skin cancer, and
The treatment for scalp problems depends on
what is causing the problem.
Check your symptoms to decide if and when
you should see a doctor.
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Try one of the following home
treatment measures to resolve a scalp problem.
There may be other things you can do at home for other kinds of scalp problems.
Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home treatment:
To maintain normal hair production, eat 2
to 3 servings of
protein a day. Protein is found in meat, chicken,
fish, eggs, some cheeses, dried beans, tofu, grains, and nuts. For more
information, see the topic Healthy Eating.
Treat your hair gently.
If your hair breaks easily:
To prevent head lice, do not share hats, combs, or other
items. For more information, see the topic
To prevent skin cancer, protect your
scalp (and the rest of your skin) from the sun.
For more information, see the topics
Skin Cancer, Melanoma and
Skin Cancer, Nonmelanoma.
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.
You can help your
doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared to answer the
December 12, 2012
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
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