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Papers of the Week

Papers: 5 Feb 2022 - 11 Feb 2022


2022 Feb 05

J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol

Scalp dysesthesia: a neuropathic phenomenon.


Ju T, Vander Does A, Yosipovitch G
J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2022 Feb 05.
PMID: 35122352.


Scalp dysesthesia is an abnormal sensation of the scalp in the absence of cutaneous disease. It is characterized by a burning and/or itching sensation and can be related to a variety of neurogenic or psychogenic causes. This condition is extremely bothersome and is also common- especially amongst the geriatric population, in women, in patients with diabetes mellitus and patients with psychiatric history. However, despite its prevalence in many populations, there is limited data about its causes and characteristics. Given its limited cutaneous manifestations it is also easily misdiagnosed and an underrecognized cause of scalp pruritus in the dermatological community. Therefore, education on scalp dysesthesia is paramount to helping physicians identify and provide appropriate treatment for these patients. This review focuses predominately on the neurogenic causes (with a brief review of psychogenic itch) of scalp dysesthesia and the therapeutics that have been found to be effective for this condition. Neurogenic causes of scalp dysesthesia occur with damage to the central or peripheral pathways of itch sensation, resulting in modification and heightened sensitivity of nerves that result in abnormal sensations in the absence of or out of proportion to external stimuli. A comprehensive review of etiologies is provided here, ranging from lesions to the central nervous system caused by cervical spine disease, trigeminal trophic syndrome, tumor, stroke, and multiple sclerosis, to small fiber neuropathies caused by diabetes, brow lifts, keloid and burn scarring. Recently, there have also been reports of scalp dysesthesias associated with post-infectious COVID-19. Treatment options tailored towards disease severity and different causes of disease will also be discussed. By elucidating the different mechanisms and therapeutic treatments of scalp dysesthesia, we hope to provide clinicians with the tools to identify and treat this condition as well as encourage further research into its etiologies and therapeutics.