Scalp Redness Symptoms, Causes & Common Questions

Understand your scalp redness symptoms, including 5 causes & common questions.

  1. 5 Possible Scalp Redness Causes
  2. Real-Life Stories
  3. Questions Your Doctor May Ask
  4. Statistics
  5. Related Articles

5 Possible Scalp Redness Causes

The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced scalp redness. This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

Non-specific scalp rash

A rash is an area of irritated or swollen skin. Often, rashes are unidentifiable and some variation of normal. For example, scratching one's arm causes it to turn red (which is caused by mast cells releasing chemicals into the local area), but that's completely normal.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: scalp redness

Symptoms that always occur with non-specific scalp rash: scalp redness

Urgency: Wait and watch

Allergic contact dermatitis of the scalp

Allergic contact dermatitis is a condition in which the skin becomes irritated and inflamed following physical contact with an allergen. Common products known to cause allergic dermatitis include plants, metals, soap, fragrance, and cosmetics.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: scalp itchiness, scalp redness, scabbed area of the scalp

Symptoms that always occur with allergic contact dermatitis of the scalp: scalp redness

Urgency: Self-treatment

Scalp Redness Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your scalp redness


Cellulitis is a bacterial infection of the deep layers of the skin. It can appear anywhere on the body but is most common on the feet, lower legs, and face.

The condition can develop if Staphylococcus bacteria enter broken skin through a cut, scrape, or existing skin infection such as impetigo or eczema.

Most susceptible are those with a weakened immune system, as from corticosteroids or chemotherapy, or with impaired circulation from diabetes or any vascular disease.

Symptoms arise somewhat gradually and include sore, reddened skin.

If not treated, the infection can become severe, form pus, and destroy the tissue around it. In rare cases, the infection can cause blood poisoning or meningitis.

Symptom of severe pain, fever, cold sweats, and fast heartbeat should be seen immediately by a medical provider.

Diagnosis is made through physical examination.

Treatment consists of antibiotics, keeping the wound clean, and sometimes surgery to remove any dead tissue. Cellulitis often recurs, so it is important to treat any underlying conditions and improve the immune system with rest and good nutrition.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: fever, chills, facial redness, swollen face, face pain

Symptoms that always occur with cellulitis: facial redness, area of skin redness

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Eczema (atopic dermatitis)

Eczema (atopic dermatitis) is a non-contagious chronic skin condition that produces an itchy rash. It is caused by a genetic condition that affects the skin's ability to protect itself from bacteria and allergens. The most susceptible are those with a family hi...

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Seborrheic dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis is a common chronic inflammatory skin condition that causes flaky, white to yellowish scales to form on oily areas such as the scalp, face or inside the ear. It can occur with or without reddened skin. The exact cause of this condition is not known, although doctors think that some common skin yeast organisms, called Malassezia, may play a role in some people.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: itchy rash, red or pink, rough patch of skin, rash with well-defined border, scalp skin changes, cheek skin changes

Symptoms that never occur with seborrheic dermatitis: fever

Urgency: Phone call or in-person visit

Real-life Stories

Once your story is reviewed and approved by our editors, it will live on Buoy as a helpful resource for anyone who may be dealing with something similar. If you want to learn more, try Buoy Assistant.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Scalp Redness

To diagnose this condition, your doctor would likely ask the following questions:

  • Do you have a rash?
  • Did you possibly brush into poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac?
  • Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Do you have skin changes anywhere that skin touches or rubs other skin (such as the back of the knee, inside of the elbow or wrist, or the armpit)?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions

Scalp Redness Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your scalp redness

Scalp Redness Symptom Checker Statistics

People who have experienced scalp redness have also experienced:

  • 22% Scalp Itchiness
  • 11% Scalp Pain
  • 10% Hair Loss

People who have experienced scalp redness were most often matched with:

  • 80% Cellulitis
  • 20% Allergic Contact Dermatitis Of The Scalp

People who have experienced scalp redness had symptoms persist for:

  • 54% Over a month
  • 17% Less than a day
  • 14% Less than a week

Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from Buoy Assistant (a.k.a. the quiz).

Scalp Redness Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your scalp redness

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