Scalp inflammation can indicate an allergic reaction to a shampoo or hair product, or occur in connection with psoriasis or a bacterial infection. Symptoms of an inflamed scalp include redness, tightness and dryness of the scalp, itching, burning and soreness. In severe cases, sore bumps form on the scalp. Some options for treatment include switching hair products, alternative remedies, medicated shampoos and antibiotic pills.

Hair Products

Scalp irritation can occur if your skin is sensitive to certain chemicals in the hair products you use. Sodium lauryl sulfate is found in many shampoos and strips your scalp of oil in order to produce that squeaky clean feel after shampooing. The result is a dry scalp, and over time it can cause irritation and inflammation. Switch to a sulfate-free shampoo and reduce the amount of times you wash your hair. Shampoo your hair every other day or every three days rather than daily.

Medicated Shampoo

If your scalp inflammation is caused by psoriasis, a medicated shampoo such as T-Gel can reduce symptoms. T-Gel contains coal tar, an active ingredient for treating an itchy and irritated scalp. Shampoos that contain salicylic acid also help treat scalp inflammation. Medicated shampoos can be found at most drug stores, and directions should be followed carefully to properly reduce inflammation.


If you are suffering from severe irritation and medicated shampoo isn't reducing your pain, your doctor may prescribe oral antibiotics to fight the infection. Methotrexate works by reducing the rate of skin cell reproduction and suppresses inflammation. Side effects of methotrexate include upset stomach, fatigue and nausea. Cyclosporine is another medication used by doctors to treat skin inflammation, but can cause other health problems such as high blood pressure. Contact your doctor if your condition worsens or side effects cause discomfort.


Phototherapy, also known as light therapy, is an alternative treatment that uses ultraviolet A and B rays found in natural and artificial light. Natural sunlight exposure can reduce inflammation by retarding cell turnover, according to the Mayo Clinic. Sun exposure should be limited, as overexposure can cause wrinkles and burning and put you at a higher risk for developing skin cancer. Repeated short exposures give the best results, while too much sun exposure can increase inflammation. Speak to your dermatologist to determine suitable exposure times. Remember to apply a moisturizer with an SPF of at least 15 to unaffected skin.

Natural Remedies

Fish oil supplements contain omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce inflammation when taken on a daily basis. According to the Mayo Clinic, three grams of fish oil can treat your skin condition and also lower the risk of heart disease. Aloe vera is also a natural remedy that soothes inflammation due to the aloe vera plant's healing properties. Apply a nickel-sized amount of aloe cream to your scalp twice daily to reduce symptoms. Take a daily supplement of vitamin E to reduce symptoms; vitamin E is used in many hair products and skin creams used to treat psoriasis. Do not take more than 400 IU of vitamin E, as there are potential side effects from too much of the supplement. Possible side effects include fatigue, nausea and headaches.