I just saw the doc about a bald patch - a deep receding V from the hairline at my left temple. The skin is not itchy or flaky but has some almost undetectable red areas and bumps. He said it was eczema, was related to my asthma, and that I had it all over my crown too. He prescribed topical steroid drops (Clobetasol) and told me to see a dermatologist if the hair didn't grow back in 3 months.
fyi - I got a little info from the National Eczema Association. I have a plan of attack but won't know how well it is working because the regrow process is so slow.
Do any of you have experience with scalp eczema - especially Atopic Dermatitis or eczema associated with asthma and allergies? What has worked for you to regrow your hair?
-- Have you changed your wash routine - how much you massage, what you use?
-- What treatments have helped you - prescription, complementary?
-- Has it helped to avoid certain things - pineappling hair at night, clipping, diffusing?
I don't usually get eczema far into my hair, and I rarely get it anywhere now that I am taking fish oil and borage seed oil. I have asthma and allergies, and everybody in my life it itchy and rashy . My twin used to get severe eczema on her hands at her place of work, but now she has a different job, allergy shots, and is doing much better.
My husband has some skin disorder, his dermatologist says it's seb. dermatitis but it acts more like eczema on his scalp (IMO, they're the same thing at some level).
He broke out in response to ketoconazole shampoo, and also to the prescription steroid (not the same one you have).
Currently he is responding pretty well (scalp looking better in color, skin looks smoother and shiny or rather not matte or "rough," far less itch) in response to a shampoo to which I added 5% niacinamide, 3% panthenol (I get them from a cosmetics-making supply company online). It's a shampoo very much like California Baby Super Sensitive.
I also use a lotion on his scalp which is a lot like the CeraVe nighttime serum. These two things are loading on the humectants and emollients/lipids and help improve skin's barrier/collagen and ceramide production.
Selsun and hydrocortisone and such used to work better for him, but now they're not working.
As for scrubbing, I cannot seem to get him to stop scrubbing his scalp like a dirty pair of sneakers - and yet when he has lost hair or had thinning patches from scalp problems, it has returned despite the scrubbing.
My atopic dog has had many massive coat-shedding episodes, and the hair always returns with the help of massage and skin medication and antihistamines. We actually caught it before he got bald spots, though.
I wouldn't worry much about scrubbing. It's necessary. Atopic skin needs really gentle exfoliation. Have you tried a shampoo brush with the soft rubbery "bristles?" Heaven! And only $2.
If you have allergies it will help a lot to get those under control. An allergy test alone can help you figure out how to control your exposure to allergens. Antihistamines can help. Allergy shots work well for people who are young or have just a few allergies. For those of us over 30 and with a bucketload of allergies, they're not as effective.
And as noted, people with eczema often improve with fish oil (or omega 3s from walnuts, omega 3 eggs, organic milk) and evening primrose oil or borage seed oil supplements because they have anti-inflammatory effects. For example, my dog's Rx for fish oil capsules with his atopic dermatitis is 1200 mg EPA and 600 mg DHA at 75 lbs. Combined with antihistamines and allergy shots - it's working well. Not perfectly, but much better.
For my itchy scalp, sometimes a cowash is just what it needs to soothe the itch, even in summer. My allergic mother is the same.
One last thing I hate to admit because I love very warm showers... cooler water truly is much better. Shudder.
I have been thinking about what might be different for my scalp lately that might account for this eczema patch and thinning on the left side of my head. I went CG last fall, tried lots of new products in the fall, weeded out the irritating products last winter, had bad asthma and allergies this spring. I'm in my mid 40's and ripe for changing chemistry, too. So, scrubbing my scalp starting last fall, new products since last fall, nutrition, hormones, and a bad stretch of asthma and allergies this spring is what I've been looking at.
I've thought about allergy shots; my daughter is doing well with them. Of the many things I was skin tested for (didn't do food), I only reacted to dust mites (4+) and a mold (less). It makes sense that I felt horrible when the humidity went up here. Putting a barrier between me and the mites and doing antihistamines really helped my allergy symptoms, but didn't alleviate them completely. (I hate pills!) I read on the eczema foundation site that allergy shots do not help for eczema, and may even make eczema worse. I'd like to see another citation on that, though; that sounds fishy.
You really think scalp massage is ok? I'd love to stick with cowashing since my skin feels so much less itchy than it used to and it gets me plenty clean, as far as I can tell. But, I am a little freaked about my hair thinning.
Thanks for the treatment ideas - I'll try some or all of them.
I really appreciate your input - if you have any other random ideas, please post!
I had to have a allergy test where they inject the serum under your skin, I didn't react to the skin-scratch test. If you're over 30, you're less likely to react to the skin prick or skin scratch tests.
For dust mites I wash my sheets once per week with 35-40 drops of tea tree oil to kill dust mites and remove the mite bits.
I spray boric acid solution on all the bedding and rugs and furniture (kills dust mites). I bought some "Dustroy" from the online allergy superstore and it really does help for surfaces.
My dog gets a lot of baths in diluted doggy shampoo.
But this spring has been the worst for asthma and allergies!!! Really bad. It rains, molds come out, it stops raining, other molds "come out." Roads get dusty, fields are tilled for planting, releasing spores - you name it.
I think scalp massage is great. You need to exfoliate your skin because eczema makes the skin "turnover" faster and so you have a lot more dead skin that needs sloughing than the next-door skin. If it isn't removed, it is soaking up whatever moisturizers or medicine you're applying. I often get a patch of eczema on my eyebrow that will form a scale which flakes off every day or 2. So I just help it along with a little clay-based scrub and hydrocortisone so my mid-eyebrow doesn't get a bare spot. Although that might make me look kind of hip...
I'm closing in on 40 and my skin has had a lot of sun. I'm finding that panthenol is super, super stuff. I love it in my hair and on my skin! And the niacinamide is an incredible humectant. It makes skin look and feel so healthy. It's worth getting some just to try from makingcosmetics.com or any other supplier.
Another really great thing I mix up is a calendula/yarrow skin "toner." It's an herbal tea with 1 cup distilled water, and about 2 tablespoons each calendula and yarrow, plus a pinch of citric acid for pH. I use it in the morning and need much less skin lotion. It's soothing and maybe a teeny bit astringent. The calendula alone would be good.
Oh, you should check out Stephanie Tourles "Naturally Healthy Skin" book. She has a few others too. I've found some good recipes in there, including the toner above.
I've read too that allergy shots for eczema are "controversial." For asthma, at least in kids, they're supposed to help.
Those are a bunch of random ideas!
Yeah, I had the subcutaneous injection allergy test. Not as bad as I thought it would be.
Just beating a dead horse - The stuff I've read says not to rub eczema with a wash cloth. I'm wondering if I have hair loss because I am not cleaning my left side well enough (I'm right handed). Or maybe because I'm scrubbing too much. Gotta blame myself for something. In one of your many posts, I think you said something about using shampoo instead of cowashing for someone in your family; why is that?
Washcloths are way more abrasive than fingertips. I have seen chamois-type cloths or flannel cloths recommended for such sensitive skin.
Eczema just pops up, I don't know that it has a lot to do with cleaning. I would think it to have more to do with weather, allergies, perhaps you sleep on that side (pressure and friction on skin) and so on. There are so many variables in eczema - pretty fascinating stuff!
DH uses shampoo for his scalp condition. It works best for him. I had him try cowashing and it was too itchy. Maybe a different product would give better results, but he's very wary of "greasy hair" with his history of scalp troubles. I use shampoo sometimes too. I live on a dusty road and that dust and all the mold spores and pollen are removed best with some kind of wetting agent - conditioner would be a good wetting agent as well as shampoo, but I have really fine hair and cowashing doesn't always work as desired!
So for DH, I have formulated a super-mild shampoo that doesn't cause him post-shower itch with niacinamide and panthenol and aloe because shampoo is what he wants.
Ok - feeling better about the scalp massage issue. Thank you for your support!
Now you have me all excited about Omega-3. fyi for others - There is a good summary about it on the whole foods website. Lots of sometimes overlooked foods have it: flax, cold water fish, walnuts, dark leafy greens, soy, cauliflower and relatives, cloves, oregano, mustard...
If you want some heavy reading: Medscape: Medscape Access Good bit at the end.
Have you considered getting a memory foam pillow? Or even better, a "cervical pillow" which supports the cervical (neck) vertebrae? Pressure is a pretty common cause of skin problem aggravation. They're supposed to distribute pressure more evenly.
Everything I've seen about traction alopecia regards hairstyles worn tightly for a long time, like the perpetual tight ponytail or braids and weaves, not short but daily doses of mild tension. So that's a really good question...
I tried pineapple-ing once. That was the last time. My wimpy scalp was very sore by morning. I don't see how people can stand doing that. IMO, clipping with plastic claw/jaw clips is less pull-y than clipping with "clippies." Doesn't get tangled easily either. It looks a lot goofier, though.
Really interesting article! Methinks seeing a dermatologist and taking swift action is a good thing.
I've been sleeping without a pineapple for a few days, and it turned out fine. A little fuzzy in the am but easy to smooth with FSG. I wore my hair in a very loose pineapple, but if the scrunchy fell off the pillow that might pull at my hairline.