Scaly Scalp Conditions


This page was designed to provide an overview of some common Scalp Conditions that present as Scaly Scalp Conditions. It introduces the science of the layers of the skin, possible causes of the various Scaly Scalp Conditions and summarizes possible treatment options.

If you have a persistent Scalp Scale Condition the best treatment will be achieved from a proper diagnosis with a Certified Trichologist.



Pityriasis refers to flaking, fine shedding, scaling or desquamation of the skin.

Desquamation, also called skin peeling, is the shedding of the outermost membrane or layer of a tissue, such as the skin and scalp.

Shedding of skin is a normal process involving the constant loss of cells from the Stratum Corneum. The Stratum Corneum is the outermost layer of the epidermis, which is the skins most outer covering and is composed of large, flat, plate-like shapes that are made up of dead cells that have moved up from and are constantly replaced by cells of the Stratum Germinativum.

The Stratum Germinativum is the skins basal layer and is the deepest layer of the 5 layers of the epidermis.

Increased shedding can produce various shapes and sizes of Scalp Scale and Flakes on the Scalp Skin.


Dandruff is a common problem and is the excessive shedding of dead skin cells from the Stratum Corneum.

Dandruff should not be confused with a Dry Scalp.

The Stratum Corneum is made up of around 15-20 layers of keratinized (hardened) dead skin cells.

With Dandruff, the cells move quicker than the normal from the Stratum Germinativum to the Stratum Corneum.

The actual cause of Dandruff is unknown, but is thought to be associated with an abundance of a yeast, "Pityrosporum Ovale" commonly found in association with Dandruff.

Those affected by dandruff find that it can cause social or self-esteem problems. Treatment is important for both physiological and psychological reasons. Gentle balancing of the Scalp Skin Hydrolipidfilm, correct Scalp Cleansing procedure and body pH balancing can help to end the constant Dandruff cycle.

Psoriasis is a common chronic autoimmune disease that appears as silvery white scale on red inflamed skin that commonly appears in oval like patches.

Psoriasis occurs when the immune system sends out faulty signals that speed up the growth cycle of skin cells.

The scalp is a common site to exhibit Psoriasis but can also be found in the crease behind the ears and in the ears. Skin on any part of the body may be affected by Psoriasis.

Most Psoriasis sufferers will develop Psoriasis of the scalp at some time, and the condition is both distressing and cosmetically disfiguring.

Psoriasis scaling may vary, but the thin, dry scales are always present.

The scales remain together in layers on the skin's surface and are not easily removed.

The scale can be so thick that the typical red inflamed skin is not found until the scale is removed.

Scratching of the psoriasis scale is common and results in easy bleeding, a common sign of Psoriasis.

Sufferers of Psoriasis have a genetic predisposition for the problem, but it requires a trigger.

Stress is known to aggravate Psoriasis and is a common trigger.

Fingernails and toenails are frequently affected by Psoriasis and can show pitting.

Psoriasis does not generally cause Hair Loss, but the buildup of scale associated with Psoriasis can block the hair follicle and inhibit the normal growth of hair from the scalp.

Removal of scale associated with Psoriasis may appear to cause hair loss, but the scale must be removed and the scalp kept clean and scale free to allow hair growth to return to normal.

The exact cause of Psoriasis is not known, but it is clearly the result of a disorder of the immune system.

Confusion can occur with other Scalp Conditions, therefore correct diagnosis prior to treatment is essential.

There are several types of Psoriasis: Plaque Psoriasis, Guttate Psoriasis, Inverse Psoriasis, Pustular Psoriasis and Erythrodermic Psoriasis. All types of Psoriasis present slightly different, but the common traits of dry scales over inflamed skin are consistent.

Pityriasis  Amiantacea is a heavy scaling condition which can have a side effect of patchy hair loss. Hair Loss may be temporary or permanent if scalp scarring has occurred.

The scales resemble asbestos, giving rise to the name Amiantacea.

This Scalp Scale Condition is often found in association with Psoriasis and Seborrhea Dermatitis.

Pityriasis Amiantacea is easily identified as the Scalp Scale sticks to the hair or the hair is stuck to the scalp.

In the early stages of Pityriasis Amiantaca the affected scalp weeps and will appear red and irritated.

In later stages the white or yellow scales pile up in layers on the scalp and are stuck to the hairs of the scalp.

Quick diagnosis and treatment to remove scaling and balance the scalp should stop progression of associated hair loss.


This work is copyright 2011. Apart from any use permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any process, nor may any other exclusive right be exercised, without the permission of Carolyn Evans Absolique Hair Health Clinic Trichologist at Zash Fine Hairdressing 23-26 Gallery Level Brisbane Arcade 160 Queen St Mall Brisbane 07 3229 3242