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Ask Dr. Hanish Babu, MD Your Own Question
Dr. Hanish Babu, MD
Dr. Hanish Babu, MD, Dermatologist
Category: Health
Satisfied Customers: 544
Experience:  MBBS; MD (Skin & Sexually Transmitted Diseases)
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My wife has a burning scalph syndrome for tha last 18 months

Resolved Question:

My wife has a burning scalph syndrome for tha last 18 months with no relief, can't sleep and nausuated all the time with no letup. This all happened when she had a cardiologist put a stent in her artery to open a blochage. She was fine before that. She is 84 yrs old. We have been to 3 neurologist and they said she din't need surgery, that's all.
Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: Health
Expert:  Dr. Hanish Babu, MD replied 9 years ago.

Dear *****,

Sorry to hear about your wife's suffering.

Also called Scalp Dysesthesia, Burning Scalp Syndrome is a treatment resistant skin condition like the notorious post herpetic neuralgia. Until recently this problem was not officially identified by dermatologists and had been put down to nervousness.

The exact cause of burning scalp syndrome is unknown. The following hypotheses are still unproven:

  1. When the hair follicles enter into the resting stage (telogen) of the hair cycle many people experience a burning sensation in the scalp. Telogen effluvium is associated with shedding of hair and miniaturization of hair follicles. These hair follicles are prone to inflammation and generalized inflammation causes burning sensation on the scalp.Telogen effluvium is seen after prolonged illnesses or stressful periods in life.
  2. Sensory nerve irritation caused by stasis of blood circulation in the scalp due to some cause.
  3. Stasis of lymphatic drainage of the scalp due to any cause leading to accumulation of toxic wastes and irritation of nerve endings.
  4. Anxiety or depressive illnesses
  5. Onset of cicatricial alopecia, a scarring type of hair loss may be preceded and/or accompanied by burning scalp syndrome, due to compression of nerve endings by the fibrous scar tissue.

In your wife's case, # 1,2,3 & 4 may be playing a combined role in sustaining the condition.

The following should help your wife:

  1. Avoid hot or very cold water baths, abrasive shampoos , aggressive combing and tight hair bands.
  2. Capsaicin cream application twice daily,which relieves pain, itching and burning sensation of the skin and scalp: A recommended starting dose is 0.025% capsaicin cream applied four times a day. If this dose is ineffective, a 0.075% capsaicin cream can be used. Try for at least 4 weeks to assess effectiveness.
  3. Anti-itching applications like scalpicin liquid applied after bath may also help relieve the burning sensation. Moisturizing creams with 5% urea will also be helpful.
  4. Mositurizing shampoos like dove or sebamed should keep the scalp from getting dry. Margo Alive shampoo which contains capsaicin may be particularly effective in burning scalp syndrome
  5. A few scalp exercises and soft massages may help some patients(aggressive massage may aggravate the burning sensation).
  6. Treatment with antidepressants such as doxepin or amytryptaline has been found effective in many patients. The effectiveness will be evident only after 2- 4 weeks.
  7. In resistant cases, biofeedback, relaxation and hypnotherapies may also be used as adjuncts to medical therapy.

The following links could further give useful tips:

Hope my suggestions help your wife. Do let me know the results.

Please do give a feedback if you found this answer useful and informative. :)

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