Bumps on scalp can be itchy, painful or unpleasant. Scratching can make them worse and increases the chances of infection. In many cases, bumps on the scalp can clear up on their own with or without treatments.

Most of the time, they are harmless and do not indicate a serious health condition. But if the bumps do not heal, or if they are spreading, see your doctor.

Here are some of the most common conditions that can cause scalp bumps. And, how to treat them.

1. Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a chronic, autoimmune disease. It occurs when the body produces new skin cells more often. This can lead to patches of skin that are dry, red, itchy, scaly and sometimes painful.

Psoriasis can occur anywhere on the body, but the scalp is most frequently affected. If you experience small scaling bumps or spots on your scalp, psoriasis can be to blame. Usually, the condition causes scalp bumps accompanied by other symptoms, like:  

  • Soreness, itching, burning
  • Cracking and bleeding
  • Thick, silvery, scaly, bumpy patches
  • Dandruff-like flaking
  • Hair loss

Treatment: Use oral and topical medications to relieve symptoms. These are corticosteroids, vitamin A, Methotrexate and Cyclosporine. Use special shampoos that contain coal tar to treat the itch. Avoid things that can trigger or worsen symptoms and cause a flare-up. These are stress, bad foods, alcohol, and smoking.

Learn more: 7 Common Skin Conditions Triggered by Stress

Psoriasis can cause bumps on your scalp

2. Ringworm

Ringworm is a contagious fungal skin infection. It’s caused by a tiny fungus called tinea. Ringworm affects nearly every part of the body including the foot, body, groin, and scalp. Symptoms include:

  • A red, itchy, scaly ring-shaped rash with raised edges
  • Redness, itching, burning and stinging in the skin
  • Thickening and scaling skin

When ringworm infects the scalp, it causes

  • Itching and scaling on the scalp
  • Blister-like lesions
  • Hair loss

Ringworm of the scalp is more common in children, but adults can get it, too. The condition is contagious. And, it can spread by direct skin-to-skin contact with an infected person or animal. Sharing hats, combs, towels and brushes can put you at an increased risk of getting ringworm.   

Treatment: For mild cases, ringworm often responds well to a topical antifungal cream. Fugacil is one of the best creams for ringworm. It’s been shown to kill fungus, ease symptoms and prevent a recurrence. For a severe case of ringworm, an oral antifungal is necessary. Ask a doctor about terbinafine, itraconazole or fluconazole. Along with this, use an antifungal shampoo. It can help you eliminate the fungus better.

Learn more: Top 10 Common Skin Problems in Children You Should Be Aware of

Ringworm can affect your scalp, causing bumps or sores

3. Folliculitis

Folliculitis can affect any part of the body. When the hair follicles are infected, a number of symptoms may occur, including:  

  • Pain, itching, burning or stinging
  • Bumps on scalp that are red, tender, itchy and filled with pus

Folliculitis has a number of causes, like:

  • Bacterial or fungal infections
  • Excessive sweating
  • Shaving your head
  • Heavy conditioners
  • Potent hair dyes
  • Frequently wearing hats

Treatment: An anti-inflammatory cream such as steroid creams can be effective. To get rid of folliculitis at home, you can also:

  • Use antibacterial soap or shampoo
  • Apply warm compress
  • Wash your hair or scalp with lukewarm water
  • Practice proper scalp hygiene
  • Regularly wash your hats, bedding, combs and pillows

Learn more: Essential Oils for Bacterial and Fungal Infections

Folliculitis can affect the scalp, causing red, itchy bumps

4. Seborrheic dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis is also known as dandruff. It can affect your scalp, causing a lot of symptoms, like:

  • White, yellow or flaky patches
  • Red skin
  • Itching
  • Stubborn dandruff

Seborrheic dermatitis sometimes can cause tiny bumps on scalp. It tends to flare up in cold, dry seasons. And symptoms can be more severe if you’re stressed. The face, ears, eyes, nose, and chest can also be affected by seborrheic dermatitis.

Treatment: An anti-yeast shampoo like ketoconazole can help. If it does not improve, you may need a topical steroid. Take care of your hair and wash your scalp regularly.

Seborrheic dermatitis causes bumps on scalp

5. Cysts

Cysts can occur anywhere on your body, including the scalp. Symptoms are very easy to identify. They are small, round or dome-shaped bumps that grow around hair follicles. The bumps can be yellow or white and you can feel them when combing or brushing your hair. In most cases, scalp cysts are harmless and genetic. They cause no health problem. But sometimes, they can get inflamed or irritated, leading to pain and drainage.

Treatment: Scalp cysts can go away on their own. Thus, do not scratch or pop the cyst, and just leave it alone. If you want to remove a cyst on your scalp, speak to your doctor.

Cysts and bumps on scalp

6. Lupus 

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can affect all parts of the body. Symptoms vary among people, including:

  • A butterfly-shaped rash on the face
  • Body skin rashes
  • Joint pain
  • Headache, fatigue
  • Chest pain
  • Unexplained fever
  • Weight gain/loss

Lupus has many different types. Discoid lupus can cause round lesions, sores or bumps on the face and scalp. If the bumps on scalp do not heal, scars will occur, leading to hair loss. Often, the hair will grow back, but sometimes they will not. To prevent permanent hair loss, you need to get your lupus treated immediately.

Treatment: There is no cure for lupus. But you can use medications to control symptoms and avoid flares. Ask your doctors for

  • Corticosteroid
  • Immunosuppressant
  • Anti-malarial drug

Limit stress. Avoid sun exposure. Get plenty of rest. Eat a healthy diet. Use supplements (you need to consult your doctor first). Some of the most common lupus supplements are LupuFree, Omega 3 Fatty Acids/Fish Oil, Turmeric and Vitamin D.

Learn more: 10 Skin Problems Caused by Lupus

Lupus can affect your scalp, leading to hair loss