Skin Cancer on Scalp — Facts & FAQs

Table of Contents

Can you get skin cancer on scalp?

Skin cancer usually develops in areas of sun-exposed skin, including the scalp, face, ears, neck, arms, hands, chest, lips, and the legs in women. But it can also occur in areas that are not exposed to sunlight such as your palms, under your fingernails or toenails, and your private parts i.e. genital areas.

What does skin cancer on your scalp look like?

Some basal cell skin cancers on the scalp may appear brown and pigmented like a mole. BCC skin cancer on the scalp may also appear as a pink blemish on the scalp.

Squamous cell skin cancer appears as a rough, scaly patch. It can get raised, firm, red and crusty, or even tender when pressed.

Can skin cancer on the head spread to the brain?

Squamous cell carcinoma is a type of skin cancer that can occur anywhere on or in the body. If left untreated, SCC may spread to the sinuses or other areas of the skull base, scalp, and brain.

Should I be worried about a mole on the scalp?

Scalp melanomas are more destructive than melanomas on other parts of the skin. They are twice dangerous as other skin cancers. A study shows that skin cancer on the scalp and neck is twice harmful as compared to melanomas elsewhere on the body.

If you notice a mole on your scalp or a change in an existing mole, then contact your doctor instantly.

Does skin cancer on the scalp itchy?

A study shows that melanoma lesions are least likely to be painful or itchy as compared to other skin cancers such as squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma.

More than one-third of the skin cancer lesions are itchy. And just under 30 percent are painful.

Can melanoma be on the scalp?

Melanoma can develop anywhere on your body, including your face, ears, hands, legs, or scalp. Melanomas developing on the head or neck behave differently than on other parts of the body. Melanomas on the head are a serious type of skin cancer on the scalp and are twice dangerous as on any other part of the skin.

Can melanoma on the scalp cause brain cancer?

Scalp melanoma has an 80% increased risk of brain metastasis compared to all other head and neck locations. The independent risk factors for brain metastasis with scalp and neck melanoma are tumor thickness, ulceration, and location of the tumor on the scalp.

Can other skin cancers occur on the scalp?

Yes, melanoma is not the only skin cancer that develops on the scalp, rather other skin cancers such as Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) may also develop on the scalp.

Does scalp skin cancer hurt?

Skin cancers often do not cause bothersome symptoms. However when they become quite large then they may itch, bleed, or even hurt. But typically skin cancers can be seen or felt long before they grow to such an extent.

What is a scalp lesion?

A scalp lesion is a growth, bump, blister, or scaly patch. A lesion may be an area of skin with a different color and texture than the surrounding skin. You can have a lesion anywhere on your scalp and your hair may break off or come out around your scalp lesion.

What causes lesions on your scalp?

Causes of Scalp lesions

  1. Acne
  2. Chickenpox
  3. Folliculitis
  4. Impetigo
  5. Infection of the hair shafts
  6. Infection of the skin

What is the treatment for skin cancer on the scalp?

Mohs surgery is the standard treatment for many squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs), basal cell carcinomas (BCCs), and some melanomas.

Can skin cancer on the scalp spread to the Brain?

Scalp melanomas are more dangerous than other melanomas as scalp melanoma has a much higher incidence of spreading to the brain (12.7% within five years after diagnosis) than those, elsewhere on the head and neck (6.7%), or the trunk or limbs (4.7%).

What causes tender spots on your head?

Folliculitis, furunculosis, and furunculosis are infections of the hair that may cause sensitivity in the scalp. Tinea capitis and tinea versicolor are the fungal infections of the scalp that are most common in children. These infections can be painful, sore, or warm to the touch.

What causes patches of dry skin on the scalp?

Dermatitis or seborrheic eczema is an inflammatory skin condition that causes flaky, scaly patches on the skin. When those flakes fall off, it’s called dandruff. This condition develops red, scaly, dry patches on the scalp. Similarly, psoriasis is a common inflammatory skin condition.

Why is my scalp suddenly itchy?

Itchy scalp may be due to dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis which is an inflammatory condition mainly caused by stress, seasonal changes, hormone fluctuation, or an overgrowth of yeast on the skin.

How is skin cancer on the scalp treated?

Curettage and electrodesiccation techniques are used to treat small squamous cell skin cancers. Excision is used to cut out tumors along with small surrounding normal skin.

Why am I getting sores on my scalp?

Acne, infection of the hair shafts, and allergic skin reactions can cause bumps, blisters, or painful sores on the scalp.

Can stress cause sores on the scalp?

Eczema is a common effect of stress that shows up on your scalp and looks like a red, itchy, scaly rash, usually.

What does basal cell carcinoma look like on the scalp?

Basal cell carcinoma appears as a small pear-shaped bump, shiny pink or red scaly patches, or skin-colored mole that doesn’t go away. Sometimes these growths can be pink, dark brown, or black.

Why is my scalp peeling?

On a dry scalp, the skin gets irritated and flakes off. Putting too much oil on the scalp can cause skin cells to build up and then shed off.

Can you have eczema on your scalp?

Scalp eczema causes inflamed, itchy, dry skin to form on your scalp. The most common type of scalp eczema is called seborrheic dermatitis, and its symptom is dandruff.

How do you treat eczema on the scalp naturally?

Use 8-12 drops of tea tree oil mixed with carrier oil or water on your seborrheic dermatitis. This may heal scaly patches of skin on your scalp and also reduce itching.

Why is my scalp flaking so badly?

The real reason could be difficult to find but there are common reasons. Irritating and oily skin, seborrheic dermatitis, or dandruff causes skin cells to accumulate and create skin flakes and itching skin on the scalp.

Why is my scalp so flaky but not itchy?

Dry scalp is more prevalent in winter and is often marked by small white flakes due to the cold climate, excessive dry heat, or diet. One may also experience some itch and tightness with a dry scalp.

What does skin cancer look like on the scalp?

The appearance of skin cancer on the scalp will vary depending on the type of skin cancer. Any of the following three skin cancers can occur on your scalp. Mostly skin cancer on the scalp appears as a black or brownish spot with darker irregular colors and borders.

Basal cell skin cancer on the scalp

Some Basal cell skin cancers may appear like a pink blemish on the scalp while others try to camouflage themselves with the skin of the scalp. Some BCC skin cancers on the scalp may appear brown and pigmented. It is easy to detect this skin cancer on the scalp using high-resolution dermoscopy.

Basal cell skin cancer looks like a flat or raised pink spot on the scalp that can bleed easily, even with a minor injury. Larger Basal cell skin cancer may even have visible irregular blood vessels on its surface and varies from being shiny to rough and crusty.

Squamous cell skin cancer on the scalp

Squamous cell skin cancer (SCC): often starts with a rough, scaly patch, but can quickly get quite raised, firm, red and crusty. They can also become tender when pressed.

Early squamous cell skin cancers (SCC) may look like a pink rough, scaly patch while more advanced squamous cell skin cancer on the scalp may become raised and aggressive. As squamous cell skin cancer on the scalp advances, it can sometimes form a large crust or ulcer.

Melanoma skin cancer on the scalp

While in the case of melanoma, the appearance of skin cancer on the scalp may be quite different.  Most appear as a brownish or black spot with darker irregular colors and borders. Some rare forms can appear as a firm pink-red lump. The appearance of a few darker moles or one that appears to be changing may be melanoma on the scalp.

How is basal cell carcinoma removed from the scalp?

The procedures to remove BCC include:

  1. Curettage
  2. Electrodesiccation
  3. Freezing
  4. Surgical excision
  5. Mohs surgery

Why my scalp has scabs?

Sores or scabs on the scalp are often harmless however, psoriasis, contact dermatitis, or head lice need special care and treatment.

Why do I have red spots on my scalp?

Some bacteria on the scalp cause the hair follicles to become infected and inflamed.

This condition gives rise to small, itchy bumps on the scalp. The scalp may also be red and scaly due to seborrheic dermatitis. This is a condition that causes dandruff. Scalp folliculitis also makes the scalp red and itchy.

Why is my scalp red and losing hair?

Lichen planopilaris is a type of alopecia that may cause a dry, flaky rash to appear on the skin that causes hair on the scalp to fall out in clumps. Lichen planopilaris occurs when lichen planus affects the scalp.


The image used as the featured image has been taken from the article “Squamous Cell Carcinoma as an Important Differential Diagnosis of Erosive Pustular Dermatosis of the Scalp” published on this site under license CC By. The doi of the article is DOI. The original work is modified and is also published under a Creative Commons License. The image is modified by the author and is named Skin Cancer on Scalp.

What are the reasons behind the Itching, flaking, or crusting of the scalp?

Itching, flaking, or crusting of the scalp may be caused by:

  1. Cradle cap oily, yellow crusting on a baby’s scalp.
  2. Dandruff that leaves white flakes on the head, neck, and shoulders.
  3. Eczema is a condition in which there is increased shedding of normal scalp skin cells.
  4. Head lice also cause itching and raw patches on the scalp.
  5. Psoriasis
  6. Ringworms cause a rash made up of circular patches with raised, red edges that resemble worms.
  7. Seborrhea

What are the major reasons for bumps, sores, and blisters on the scalp?

Painful sores, blisters, or bumps on the scalp may be caused by:

  1. Acne
  2. An allergic skin reaction
  3. Epidermal cysts
  4. Infection of the hair shafts
  5. Viral infections

(33) Why are scalp melanoma skin cancers more dangerous?

The reasons are:

  1. It is challenging very difficult to visualize all areas of your scalp in the mirror.
  2. Delay in diagnosis is the main problem to identify skin cancer on the scalp early.
  3. It is difficult to see the moles or any other changing structures on the head
  4. The scalp has abundant blood vessels so it provides the right conditions for melanoma.

How can I check for skin cancer on the scalp when I have a lot of hair?

  1. Ask your friend to see your hair in a bright location either with the help of a comb or a hairdryer at a low setting to help separate the hair.
  2. A professional skin examination by an experienced dermatologist is the best choice.
  3. Hairdressers can see any unusual spots on your scalp during a haircut.

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