Diagnosis of scalp rashes

Author: Hon A/Prof Amanda Oakley, Dermatologist, Hamilton, New Zealand, February 2016.


Patients may present with a skin problem they believe to be confined to the scalp. A full medical and focussed cutaneous history should be followed by brief examination of relevant sites.

The most common scalp symptoms are:

Itch may be associated with the majority of skin conditions in the scalp. Soreness is less frequent.

Chronic scaly scalp disorders

Pityriasis amiantacea

Pityriasis amiantacea:

Tinea capitis

Tinea capitis:


Scalp psoriasis:

Seborrhoeic dermatitis

Seborrhoeic dermatitis:

Atopic dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis:

Discoid lupus erythematosus

Discoid lupus erythematosus:

Chronic pustules and erosions

Head lice

Head lice:

Dermatitis herpetiformis

Dermatitis herpetiformis:

Scalp folliculitis

Scalp folliculitis:

Folliculitis keloidalis nuchae

Folliculitis keloidalis nuchae:

Folliculitis decalvans

Folliculitis decalvans:

Dissecting cellulitis

Dissecting cellulitis:

Erosive pustular dermatosis

Erosive pustular dermatosis:

Related information

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Watch Dr Amanda Oakley presenting "Skin lesion photography" at The Australasian Skin Cancer Congress.

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