Re: itchy, sore scalp
This is almost certainly folliculitis, a condition wherein the hair follicles become infected with the staph bacteria that is everywhere in our daily lives. Consider it a sort of hyper-sensitivity to staph. The good news is, it's not serious. But it CAN be terribly frustration and sometimes even uncomfortable.
You should still have this diagnosed by a dermatologist, but here are some things you can do to improve your condition:
Use LIGHT shampoos -- products that make claims to remove buildup or call themselves "clarifying" are good. I HIGHLY recommend Neutrogena shampoo -- get the regular kind, the clear liquid in the smallish bottle. You won't benefit from the T-Gel dandruff shampoo they make.
DO continue to wash your hair. Washing has nothing to do with your problem, unless you use HEAVY conditioners that clog up the follicles.
Dry your hair well, or have it cut shorter so air can circulate through it. If you want longer hair, that's OK -- just don't leave it damp for long after you've washed it.
If you see a doctor and he diagnoses folliculitis, he will offer some prescription shampoos that are tar-based and sulfur-based. You can try these if you like, but be warned: they are VERY damaging to the hair, stripping the hair shaft of essential oils and this can result in some nasty, frizzy, brittle hair. I would avoid this treatment if I were you, but the choice is yours.
The doc may also suggest a course of antibiotics. This should clear up the problem almost immediately, but obviously you know that you must continue to take ALL the antibiotics in your prescription. The problem is... folliculitis tends to return often. You CANNOT use antibiotics to treat this on a permanent basis. Doing so will result in a superinfection and the problem will get much, much worse. But you CAN give it a shot and might get a period of remission that can last a long, long time.
The condition often improves with age. As you get older, you may notice that it is less bothersome and you get fewer and fewer infected follicles.
Unfortunately, very often... this is something you have to deal with for the rest of your life. Sorry.
But the good news is something I saved for last...
Try TEA TREE OIL. I am always dubious of "snake oil" type claims, but tea tree oil works wonders. You can get it at Target or Wal Mart or most pharmacies, but the discount department stores are cheapest. About five bucks a bottle. Look for it in the vitamin aisle.
Here's what you do:
When washing your hair, put a little bit of the Neutrogena shampoo in your palm. Add a few drops of Tea Tree Oil to that. Stir it up with your finger. Shampoo normally and leave it on for a minute or two. It may tingle a little, but it feels nice. Then just rinse well.
After about a week or so, you'll see an improvement. Tea tree oil is a natural antiseptic which kills topical staph and will help reduce the small pimples. However, it is NOT a "cure." Consider it a maintenance treatment.
Alternately, if you like, you can shampoo normally and rinse. When you are ready to step out of the shower, add a few drops of Tea Tree Oil to your palm and rub it through your hair, close to the scalp. You do not need to spread the oil through long strands of hair. The only drawback to this is that Tea Tree Oil has a kind of medicinal, menthol-type smell that you might not like in your hair. If you hair is very long, you will smell it more than if it is very short. For guys with short hair, like me, the smell is not bad at all.
It is helpful to put the oil into a baby medicine dropper so you can get just a few drops at a time. The bottle it comes in has just a regular opening and it's easy to pour out too much. The baby medicine droppers are free at most pharmacies -- just ask and the pharmacist will give you one.
When I was a young guy, about fourteen years old, I had terrible folliculitis. As I got older, it got better -- as an adult now, it is hardly a problem. But I still use Tea Tree Oil and even though it is not a cure, as I said, I personally have ZERO problems with this conditions.
This is good stuff -- give it a try.
But do see your doc just to make sure.
Last edited by ScruffyGuy; 02-21-2005 at 12:27 PM.