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Scalp Treatment : Treatment, Procedure, Cost And Side Effects

Last Updated: Jul 05, 2024

What is the treatment of Scalp?

The scalp is the anatomical territory circumscribed by the human face at the front, and by the neck along the edges and back. Scalp is an essential part of the body. The scalp is covered generally by hair and when the scalp upper skin becomes dry then it may cause various kinds of scalp related problems like dandruff, dry hair, hair fall etc. Each of these can turn out into serious problems and thus require proper care and treatment. Scalp treatment thus is set of various care and treatment procedures that aim to ensure healthy scalp for healthy body.

There are various types of allergies and diseases which can affect the scalp or its outer skin and each of them has a specific treatment. Some of them are as follows:

  1. Among the most common problems are Dandruff and Hair Loss
  2. . Other problems associated are eczema which can cause dry scalp,
  3. hair lice,
  4. seborrhoeic dermatitis – a skin disorder causing scaly, flaky, itchy, red skin
  5. Infants can suffer from Cradle cap – a form of seborrhoeic dermatitis which occurs in new-borns
  6. and in rare cases tumours may develop.

The most common problems are the hair fall and dandruff. Hair lice are again a very common problem. These problems can be treated with the help of treatments like scalp massage, conditioning treatment, dietary treatments etc. Seborrhoeic dermatitis requires dermatologist examination and treatment includes medication. For severe cases like tumours there is a need to have examinations like CT scan and MRI scan and then surgeries.

How is the treatment done?

The treatment of the scalp differs from the condition of the patient and the disease the patient is suffering from. Below are the treatments mentioned for the scalp diseases:

  1. For dry scalp and Dandruff: There are home based remedies, changes in shampooing style etc. which can eliminate this condition and thus are reliable treatment. Apart from that scalp massage, condition shampooing and dietary change like taking vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12 shall eliminate the dry scalp issues. Dandruff has no in particular cure but can be treated with the basic antifungal creams and shampoos that contain the chemical combinations like ketoconazole, zinc pyrithione and selenium disulphide. Also coal tar can be a good solution to it too. It is advised to intake fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain breads and cereals and, if necessary, through supplements such as flaxseed oil, zinc, and selenium.
  2. For hair loss: As far as hair loss is concerned the most effect treatment is Laser Treatments and Hair Transplants. You may also consider the Oils and OTC drugs available in the market. In the laser therapy the procedure takes place in three phases namely growth ( anagen phase), resting (telogen phase) and shedding ( catagen phase). The basic theory is to give a low level treatment to increase the blood flow in the scalp and stimulate metabolism in shedding and resting follicles and hence in the production of the growth follicles. The photons of the light act as an oxidising agent and lead to the production of ATPS which is cyclically converted to the hair follicle cells, releasing energy and hence carrying out the various procedures for hair growth. Also the release of nitric acid in the process leads to increased vascularisation to help the scalp distribute nutrients properly all over the scalp.
  3. For hair lice: The treatment mainly includes improved hygiene for the person. The person is prescribed medicated soaps and powder that helps in getting rid of body lice in the person. The person is asked to avoid close contact with other people as they might get infected or the infection in the person may increase more. The patient is asked to thoroughly clean all the clothing, towels and bed sheets and other clothing materials that the person owns and uses.
  4. For seborrhoeic dermatitis: A number of medications are able to control seborrhoeic dermatitis including: certain antifungals, topical corticosteroids, and keratolytics such as topical urea, as well as antiandrogens and antihistamines.
  5. For psoriasis, the skin affected is targeted and exposed for the ultraviolet light for the phototherapy light treatment. A narrow band UVB light is administered typically about three times a week in case of mild disease and up to five times in case of severe issues. The length of the treatment depends on the skin colour of the affected person. The dark skinned people will take more time than the fair- skinned people. It uses specialised devices to measure the intensity of light required and to filter only the narrow band.
  6. For Cradle cap: For young babies too, scalp can be a problem. A very common cradle cap disease occurs in newly born babies if care is not taken properly. It’s treatment is using only a good quality certified baby shampoo and not bathing the baby too frequently. Also using gentle oils and humidifier to the hair and scalp will ease the irritation caused.
  7. For tumours: The doctor may perform test like CT scan, MRI scan to diagnose the type and the cause of the tumour and based on that there may be a need to go for biopsy or not. Once the root cause is defined then the treatment may include surgery alone, or surgery combined with chemotherapy.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

Following is the eligibility criteria for the treatment:

  1. Dandruff is very common and about half of the adult population is affected by it. All those people who feel itchy and can find white dust shedding on their clothes can use the various anti dandruff shampoos available in the market according to their budget and skin type. Hair loss can be easily detected by checking the bald areas on the scalp if any. Thus, treatment like conditioning treatment, scalp massage, dietary changes can be adapted by anyone and thus are eligible for this treatment.
  2. For cradle cap, a check up by the doctor is must. Babies can also be checked for cracked skin and excessive redness and dryness on the hair. If the doctor recommends then the treatment should be given. For folliculitis, a dermoscopy may be required by the doctor to check if it is regular hair loss or weak follicles itself. Rarely if the results are not clear in dermoscopy then a skin biopsy may be required. Thus, only those who are having problem of regular hair loss need to avail this treatment.
  3. Psoraisis need to be checked for the itchy symptoms for about a week and if the symptoms spread fast to the other parts of the body as well then a medical examination will be required to find the eligible patient.
  4. For hair lice any person who is suffering form this condition can avail this treatment. Finally surgery for scalp is done to those patients who are suffering from scalp based tumours only.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

Itching and redness are very common symptoms that may occur due to our untidy lifestyle or unhealthy eating. Also, due to considerable high pollution levels some these may be just normal day to day symptoms that can be relieved by basic care. These minor issues need not to go for a high profile treatment. Good lifestyle will work for it the best. Moreover problems like dry scalp, hair lice can be treated from home through maintaining proper lifestyle and hygienic practices. As far as other scalp based diseases are concerned person from high blood pressure, diabetes may be asked to avoid taking medication for seborrhoeic dermatitis and the surgery can be delayed for such patients.


Are there any side-effects?

Some of the side effects of the treatment are as follows:

  1. The drugs for the treatment of the seborrhoeic dermatitis taken orally usually can cause a lot of gastroentrientis issues. The patient may also suffer from dry mouth, drowsiness, nausea, restlessness and trouble in peeing. They may also become addicted to such medicines and may not able to reduce their dosage.
  2. The laser therapy generally does not have any severe problems but in long run may be as much effective for some people as for others.
  3. For the ultraviolet light therapy, it may cause sun burns if taken in large quantities for long hours. It is also found to cause insomnia, irritability and mild vision issues.

Apart from the above, if the patient feels any discomfort during the treatment the patient is advised to consult the doctor immediately.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

The post treatment guidelines are as follows:

  1. A proper health and hygiene is to be taken care of and then the recovery takes place faster.
  2. After the time is undertaken the patient has to take a proper care of the laser done area for about a week and then after that too the patient has not to strain the scalp too much.
  3. In the ultraviolet light therapy the patient has to take care if the symptoms are reducing or not. They must also need to take a proper sunlight to retain the effect. A proper cleanliness of the scalp is obviously must for any effect.
  4. After surgery the patient may be advised to take bed rest and avoid activities like driving.

How long does it take to recover?

For dandruff and other fungal and bacterial infections in the scalp can be treated in about two to three weeks after proper application of the ointments and shampoos recommended by the doctor. In the case of cradle cap the recovery takes place fast as the baby is in the growing stage. For the psoriasis the disease recovery may span to about six to eight months after its detection and proper diagnosis by the dermatologist. For hair loss laser treatment may give results in just a few weeks but using natural methods like oils and creams will take about four to six months. A proper water intake and balanced diet is a must for the healthy functioning of the hair and scalp after treatment.

What is the price of treatment in India?

The cost of the various shampoo’s and scalp conditioning products is around Rs.200 to Rs; 12,00/- which is quite affordable. The price range for the antidandruff shampoos is typically between Rs. 300 to 500 for about 400 ml which is a little bit on the higher side.

As per the laser surgeries are concerned the costs are very high starting from Rs.15,000 to Rs.2,00,000 starting from basic level. The photo light therapy costs about Rs. 5000 per sessions amounting to about Rs.20,000 for the whole treatment. The surgery can cost in the range of 50,000/- INR to Rs: 3 lakhs INR.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

Generally the treatment for hair lice, dandruff is effective but since these are recurrent in nature, the treatment can be availed at any time. Dandruff and allergies have no permanent solution. Only a proper hygiene will help. The laser treatment may give permanent results to the patients who take proper care as advised by the dermatologist after the treatment. For the ultraviolet ray therapy the results are unlikely to be permanent but if a routine therapy is taken after cure then the conditions may not develop again. Surgeries outcome can be positive but not permanent in nature if the tumour is cancerous in nature.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

The alternatives to the treatment are as follows:

  1. You may use ayuervedic oils and shampoos to massage the scalp.
  2. Also food rich in various vitamins and keratin based proteins should be taken.
  3. Aloe Vera, lemon juice and onion juice based home remedies can treat dandruff, dry scalp and hair lice.

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Written ByDr. Pankaj Verma ACLS,POST GRADUATE COURSE IN RHEUMATOLOGY,Fellowship in Diabetes,MBBS,Post Graduate Course In Rheumatology,MD - Medicine,Masters in Psychotherapy and CounsellingInternal Medicine
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Reviewed ByDr. Bhupindera Jaswant SinghMD - Consultant PhysicianGeneral Physician
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