Strange Scalp Issues With being Vegetarian-Help!

jayger

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I was wondering if anyone has gone through what I am going through and could help. I am currently vegetarian (most dairy gone but slowly easing) and my body has a strange reaction to this lifestyle. I have gone from vegetarian to eating meat to vegetarian a couple times in the past couple years for the sole fact of this issue. When I eat meat, I have a normal, clear scalp. When I go off meat, I develop crazy inflammation on my scalp, with little bumps and cysts popping up and becoming painful, on my scalp only. These don't ever seem to have anything in them and it is not folliculitis (or so it seems). It is just painful, and just weird/gross to me. It is the weirdest thing and none of my doctors can make sense of it. Every time I would decide to "try eating meat" to see what happens, the issue resolves.

I have tried different approaches, such as heavy vitamin supplementing, or specific vitamins like zinc increased. But nothing seems to stop it. What is happening and has anyone ever experienced this. I do NOT want to eat meat, but I also want a clear head...Please help. I have exhausted dermatologists and they do not get it either.
 

David3

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I was wondering if anyone has gone through what I am going through and could help. I am currently vegetarian (most dairy gone but slowly easing) and my body has a strange reaction to this lifestyle. I have gone from vegetarian to eating meat to vegetarian a couple times in the past couple years for the sole fact of this issue. When I eat meat, I have a normal, clear scalp. When I go off meat, I develop crazy inflammation on my scalp, with little bumps and cysts popping up and becoming painful, on my scalp only. These don't ever seem to have anything in them and it is not folliculitis (or so it seems). It is just painful, and just weird/gross to me. It is the weirdest thing and none of my doctors can make sense of it. Every time I would decide to "try eating meat" to see what happens, the issue resolves.

I have tried different approaches, such as heavy vitamin supplementing, or specific vitamins like zinc increased. But nothing seems to stop it. What is happening and has anyone ever experienced this. I do NOT want to eat meat, but I also want a clear head...Please help. I have exhausted dermatologists and they do not get it either.


This sounds discouraging!

There's nothing nutritionally magical about meat. With only perhaps 2 exceptions (vitamin B12 and vitamin D), a properly-planned vegan diet contains all necessary nutrients for good health.

A dermatologist's education, though extensive, does not include much in the way of nutrition expertise. Have you considered making an appointment with a Registered Dietitian? In the United States, you can find a local Registered Dietitian through the website of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics - the world's largest association of RD's: Eatright.org - Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Just click on the red "Find An Expert" button in the upper right corner of their website. Even with the COVID-19 stay-at-home time, an RD can evaluate your diet and provide direction by email.
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Lou

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Did any of the dermatologists try cortisone? It seems like no matter what the cause a shot or a topical solution of cortisone would be a good thing to try.
 

silva

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I can't imagine other than to track what you're eating- what you add or subtract when you don't eat meat
It's not because you're missing something from meat, but could be you're eating really low fat when you don't?
When you give up meat are you eating things you normally don't?
What do you use on your hair?
What I find more concerning are the supplements you're taking to control it, it seems you're probably doing something to cause it without knowing
 

jayger

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Did any of the dermatologists try cortisone? It seems like no matter what the cause a shot or a topical solution of cortisone would be a good thing to try.
No, they have given me anti-bacterial solutions, anti-fungal solutions, antibiotic pills..
 

jayger

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This sounds discouraging!

There's nothing nutritionally magical about meat. With only perhaps 2 exceptions (vitamin B12 and vitamin D), a properly-planned vegan diet contains all necessary nutrients for good health.

A dermatologist's education, though extensive, does not include much in the way of nutrition expertise. Have you considered making an appointment with a Registered Dietitian? In the United States, you can find a local Registered Dietitian through the website of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics - the world's largest association of RD's: Eatright.org - Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Just click on the red "Find An Expert" button in the upper right corner of their website. Even with the COVID-19 stay-at-home time, an RD can evaluate your diet and provide direction by email.
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I may have to do that..because those are two of the supps I made sure I was still getting. I am at a loss :(
 

jayger

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I can't imagine other than to track what you're eating- what you add or subtract when you don't eat meat
It's not because you're missing something from meat, but could be you're eating really low fat when you don't?
When you give up meat are you eating things you normally don't?
What do you use on your hair?
What I find more concerning are the supplements you're taking to control it, it seems you're probably doing something to cause it without knowing
I've tried logging..but what changes is very slight - instead of turkey on a salad i make lentils and chickpeas..no huge differences. so i am not sure what it is
 

Lou

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No, they have given me anti-bacterial solutions, anti-fungal solutions, antibiotic pills..

Cortisone would be the next logical step. When I get poison oak really bad that is what my doctor gives me.
I've also been prescribed it for really bad dandruff. Speaking of dandruff, have you tried a strong dandruff shampoo. You might want to try one that contains a sulfur compound or a zinc compound.

You can't get cortisone over the counter but you can get hydrocortisone and some other steroids over the counter. You can ask your dermatologist about a cortisone shot or topical solution. or just go the pharmacist and buy a tube of hydrocortisone and try using that on your scalp for a day or two.

It may not be a good long term solution but it might give you some immediate relief.
 

silva

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I've tried logging..but what changes is very slight - instead of turkey on a salad i make lentils and chickpeas..no huge differences. so i am not sure what it is
What is the time frame on this? Like how long after eating vegan does this start?
You really eat the same foods when you eat meat?
Are you getting good fats?
How does it begin?
Have you ever tried something like pine tar soap?
Or tea tree?
 
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silva

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What do you usually use on your hair? Is it just your scalp- no where else?
I used to have all kinds of skin issues. I found the less I did the better it got.
Right now my hands are driving me nuts from all the alcohol and soap I've been using. So many things made to help conditions often make them so much worse!
I just mixed some gentle lotion with tea tree oil and that helped a lot
Pine tar soap is great for excema
 

Forest Nymph

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I can think of a few things this might be:

1) You're eating more dairy since you're not eating meat and your body is reacting to that.

2) You're not getting enough of a certain amino acid. I know that people make too big of a deal out of protein, but it's not entirely negligible either. We have amino acid profiles and making sure you're getting enough beans, lentils, nuts, tofu and eating a wider variety of other foods usually would eliminate that problem. Skin inflammation is often treated with lyseine. Lyseine is an amino acid that is typically used for things like cold sores or herpes. Again, high protein plant foods have enough of this amino acid so just make sure you're eating beans or seeds.

3) Zinc. Meat is really high in zinc. But so are pumpkin seeds and chia seeds, and all of the other high protein vegan foods I already mentioned. But I believe you have already tried supplementing zinc.

4) It's psychosomatic. You feel subconsciously like you're "missing something" or that avoiding meat stresses you out, and you're having this inflammation as an anxiety response. No offense, but stuff like that does happen. I have had anxiety in the past where I temporarily developed itchy hives on my arms. If there is a possibiity that you imagine so deeply that meat is so necessary to your health and happiness, eating it again is giving you a "placebo effect." The placebo effect is real it's not a joke, and it might be remedied by you confronting this possibility, and/or adding vegan meats to your diet, such as Gardein, Field Roast, Beyond Burgers, etc....whatever gives you comfort and a familiar sense of eating something "meaty."
 
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shyvas

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I was wondering if anyone has gone through what I am going through and could help. I am currently vegetarian (most dairy gone but slowly easing) and my body has a strange reaction to this lifestyle. I have gone from vegetarian to eating meat to vegetarian a couple times in the past couple years for the sole fact of this issue. When I eat meat, I have a normal, clear scalp. When I go off meat, I develop crazy inflammation on my scalp, with little bumps and cysts popping up and becoming painful, on my scalp only. These don't ever seem to have anything in them and it is not folliculitis (or so it seems). It is just painful, and just weird/gross to me. It is the weirdest thing and none of my doctors can make sense of it. Every time I would decide to "try eating meat" to see what happens, the issue resolves.

Too much dairy in certain individuals can cause inflammation, especially scalp acne. Perhaps you could try and ditch cow's milk and try goat's milk and cheese. Yogurt is also preferable to milk. Instead of consuming meat as a protein source, try eating pulses/legumes and other alternatives such as seitan and tofu.

 

jayger

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What is the time frame on this? Like how long after eating vegan does this start?
You really eat the same foods when you eat meat?
Are you getting good fats?
How does it begin?
Have you ever tried something like pine tar soap?
Or tea tree?

So the onset takes a bit of time from going back to no meat, and the "clear up" that would occur takes 2-3 weeks once back to eating meat. It usually begins as one inflammation of a cyst on my scalp..and then slowly bumps appear that are painful, but nothing in them. it's really weird.

i have tried alot of scalp shampoos - and currently use selsun blue. I find none clear the issue up but that one seems to have been better than the tar ones. i also tried apple cider vinegar at onepoint..it seemed to help at first and then stopped doing much..
 

jayger

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I can think of a few things this might be:

1) You're eating more dairy since you're not eating meat and your body is reacting to that.

2) You're not getting enough of a certain amino acid. I know that people make too big of a deal out of protein, but it's not entirely negligible either. We have amino acid profiles and making sure you're getting enough beans, lentils, nuts, tofu and eating a wider variety of other foods usually would eliminate that problem. Skin inflammation is often treated with lyseine. Lyseine is an amino acid that is typically used for things like cold sores or herpes. Again, high protein plant foods have enough of this amino acid so just make sure you're eating beans or seeds.

3) Zinc. Meat is really high in zinc. But so are pumpkin seeds and chia seeds, and all of the other high protein vegan foods I already mentioned. But I believe you have already tried supplementing zinc.

4) It's psychosomatic. You feel subconsciously like you're "missing something" or that avoiding meat stresses you out, and you're having this inflammation as an anxiety response. No offense, but stuff like that does happen. I have had anxiety in the past where I temporarily developed itchy hives on my arms. If there is a possibiity that you imagine so deeply that meat is so necessary to your health and happiness, eating it again is giving you a "placebo effect." The placebo effect is real it's not a joke, and it might be remedied by you confronting this possibility, and/or adding vegan meats to your diet, such as Gardein, Field Roast, Beyond Burgers, etc....whatever gives you comfort and a familiar sense of eating something "meaty."

Thank you this is helpful. Zinc is a something I have tried with no effect on it. I have never thought about the amino acid side of this. That may be one to try out. I'm not sure about the psychosomatic one - I have been "anti meat" for quite a bit to where it doesn't come across as appetizing - the thought of eating it kind of grosses me out now.. (didn't use to be so but now it does) My husband went vegan last year after he had been a big meat eater and has had no problems..which is amazing for him but leaves me feeling discouraged about my head :(
 

jayger

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What do you usually use on your hair? Is it just your scalp- no where else?
I used to have all kinds of skin issues. I found the less I did the better it got.
Right now my hands are driving me nuts from all the alcohol and soap I've been using. So many things made to help conditions often make them so much worse!
I just mixed some gentle lotion with tea tree oil and that helped a lot
Pine tar soap is great for excema

So here's the even more annoying part for me: without meat, my face is very clear and i don't really get breakouts. but the scalp issue is bad. when i eat meat..i of course, tend to get breakouts on my face, but the scalp stops. it doesn't make any sense. i also sometimes wonder if when i feel it happening my stress about it causes it to get worse? i just don't know.