Treatment of scalp dysesthesia utilising simple exercises and stretches: A pilot study

Nicholas K. Laidler, Jonathan Chan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Background/Objectives Scalp dysesthesia is characterised by abnormal cutaneous sensations such as burning, stinging or itching of the scalp in the absence of objective dermatological findings. We hypothesised that the unpleasant sensations are the result of a sensory neuropathy secondary to cervical spine dysfunction and chronic tension of the pericranial muscles. The aim of this pilot study was to evaluate the use of an exercise protocol consisting of cervical spine range of movement exercises, gentle mobilisation and muscle stretches over 4 weeks. The exercise protocol was designed to relieve cervical nerve compression through the restoration of cervical homeostasis. Methods Results In total, 16 participants, aged 18-71 (average 45 years), diagnosed with scalp dysesthesia were recruited from an outpatient dermatology clinic and given instructions on how to perform a specifically designed exercise protocol twice daily for 4 weeks. Baseline characteristics and a visual analogue scale (VAS) for pruritus were recorded prior to commencement and a VAS for pruritus recorded weekly thereafter. At week 4, 10 participants experienced a satisfactory reduction in their symptoms, four experienced complete resolution and two experienced no benefit, with no adverse effects reported. We conclude that a programme of simple exercises and stretches is an effective treatment for scalp dysesthesia. Conclusions This low-risk treatment is easily implemented, non-invasive and non-pharmacological. Within the limits of this small pilot study, benefits are shown, and we believe further research is warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)318-321
Number of pages4
JournalAustralasian Journal of Dermatology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018
Externally publishedYes


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