How to Care for your Scalp

Cancer treatment can impact the skin in a range of different ways, and this includes your scalp. You may experience your scalp feeling hot, itchy, tender or tingly, which can happen before and while your hair is falling out. 

Some people have also described a slight discomfort or pain when their hair initially begins to fall out or pimples on their scalp. There hasn’t been much research into this, but one small study has been carried out with women having chemo for breast cancer. This reported that more than 4 out of 10 women had scalp pain. 

Let your doctor know if you experience any pain or begin to see any sores on your scalp. Your doctor will give you cream/medication and instructions regarding how to care for any wounds you may have. 

Tips for Scalp Care 

 Wash with Warm Water 

While hot showers may be your go-to, this is asking for trouble when it comes to your sensitive scalp. Try taking a warm shower instead for a more comfortable feel.
Use essential oils 
Use a hot steamy flannel and add a few drops of essential oil such as lavender to calm and soothe or tea tree to help any irritation. Always do a patch test first though. 

Use Mild Products 

Use natural products, the less ingredients the better! Keep this in mind when you are looking for shampoo, conditioner, lotion, body wash, and laundry detergent. Look for products without preservatives or perfume.

How to Soothe a Scalp  

A hot steamy flannel and some facial wash on your scalp followed by a soothing and light moisturiser can really help to ease away the tension of the day and nurture your scalp.

Simply rinse a flannel under very warm water, squeeze out the water and place the hot steamy flannel onto your scalp.

Massage your scalp

Try five massage rounds to keep the scalp healthy. Use the pad of your fingers in a circular motion to ease away tension and keep a good flow of blood to the skin.

Washing Head Coverings 

A good tip is to use a very warm damp flannel to wipe out the interior of any head coverings after wearing and allow it to dry.

Washing your headwear and wigs on a regular basis helps to keep your scalp clear from unnecessary spots and irritation. This can occur if your headwear/wig has a build up of naturally occurring secretions such as grease, shed skin and perspiration. 

Protecting your Scalp 

Use sun lotions designed for the face as these tend to be less greasy and more comfortable on the scalp. Sports sun tan lotions also tend to be less shiny and sticky – look out for ones specifically designed for the scalp and face. You can also buy headwear (mainly hats and caps) that have a built in SPF in the fabric.

Keep your head cosy in cold weather, as you can loose a lot of heat from your head. This will protect your skin and decrease chances of catching a cold. 


You may like to consider using a pillow case made from natural fibres such as cotton or linen. Man-made fibres, like nylon, can cause irritation to sensitive skin.

Red Spots  

If you see small red spots appear that are intensely itchy this may be an inflammation of your hair follicle, called folliculitis, which may need to be medically treated. Always speak with your medical team if itchy and painful spots appear.


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