Shingles Medical Course
When Shingles Affects the Scalp
Shingles can be particularly difficult to manage if the rash spreads to your scalp. Gentle hair care and scalp treatment can help prevent permanent damage.
By Dennis Thompson Jr.
Medically Reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH
Don't Miss This
Sign Up for OurSkin & BeautyNewsletter
Thanks for signing up!You might also like these other newsletters:
Shingles can form a blistering, itchy, painful rash anywhere on the body, but can be particularly excruciating and challenging if it spreads to the scalp. Shingles blisters can leave you with a sensitive scalp and make grooming very difficult. What's worse, the infection can result in bald patches if you aren't careful about how you treat the rash.
Shingles are caused by the reactivation of the virus that causes chickenpox, the varicella zoster virus. After you recover from chickenpox, the virus can travel down into the nerve tissues of the body and lay there dormant for decades. Shingles occurs when the virus reawakens and travels back up the nerve pathways and out to the skin. Anyone who has had chickenpox is at risk for contracting shingles later in life.
Shingles and a Sensitive Scalp
The itching and pain of shingles can leave your scalp incredibly sensitive to even the slightest pressure. That can make running a brush or comb through your hair a terrible ordeal, with the bristles scraping the rash and potentially causing the blisters to burst. At other times, the urge to scratch your itchy scalp may seem irresistible.
However, you must avoid both scratching and combing too hard. The viral infection that causes shingles can result in hair loss through a condition known as cicatricial alopecia or scarring alopecia. Scarring caused by the shingles rash destroys stem cells in hair follicles that create new hair growth. The destruction of these cells prevents hair regeneration, resulting in permanent hair loss. Scratching or scraping at the rash can increase your chances of scarring alopecia.
Note that shingles only affects one side of the body. That means a scalp rash will also be limited to one side of your head.
Scalp Treatment for Shingles
There are some specific scalp treatments and hair care techniques you can use to relieve the pain and itching of a sensitive scalp and help head off permanent damage:
- Apply cool water and cold compresses to the part of your scalp affected by the shingles rash.
- Pat calamine or menthol lotion on your head as a soothing scalp treatment.
- Avoid using harsh soaps or scented shampoos when washing your hair. Try to find a gentle, unscented hair cleanser.
- When washing your hair, use lukewarm or warm water — never hot.
- Avoid scrubbing when washing your hair. Use gentle motions with your fingertips, never the nails.
- Pat your hair dry with a towel after washing, rather than rubbing it dry.
- Comb your hair carefully, trying to scrape your rash as little as possible.
- Do not use any hair care products on a sensitive scalp rash. Avoid hair spray, pomade, mousse, and other products.
- Discuss with your doctor or dermatologist any prescription emollients or creams that might help soothe your shingles rash or decrease itching to prevent scratching.
More general treatments to address your shingles scalp infection and symptoms include:
- Antiviral medications that attack the shingles virus
- Tricyclic antidepressants, which have been shown to interrupt pain signals
- Topical lidocaine patches, which can relieve itching and pain when applied directly to the rash
- Nerve blocks, which are topical anesthetics injected directly into the rash
- Over-the-counter pain relievers such as aspirin or NSAIDs
There are a number of ways to deal with shingles that affects your scalp. By using shingles scalp treatments carefully, you may avoid permanent scarring and hair loss.
Video: Shingles in & around eye, Varicella / Herpes Zoster Virus - A State of Sight #73
How to Answer a Legal Complaint
Spread on heart health with toast
What is it really like to have a threesome
The Naked Collection: Urban Decay Expanded Into Every Product You CouldWant
Ever Run to Make a Train
Life After the Battle With Breast Cancer
Lúxus manicure með blúndur 2018-2019 - myndir, ný atriði, hugmyndir um mynstur
Is Sex on the First Date Really a Big Deal Here’s What 8 Experts Have toSay
The Best Bras for Your Body Type