Examination of Scalp Disorders: Understanding the Different Regions of the Scalp

The human scalp is a complex and vital area of the body, especially when considering hair and skin health. For healthcare professionals, particularly those specializing in hair dermatology and trichology, understanding the various regions of the scalp is crucial for diagnosing and treating scalp disorders. This article delves into the primary regions of the scalp – frontal, vertex, parietal, occipital, nuchal, temporal, and sideburn – and their subregions, providing insights into their roles and relevance in the examination of scalp disorders.

1. Frontal Region The frontal region of the scalp extends from the top of the forehead to the beginning of the vertex region. Common disorders in this area include frontal fibrosing alopecia and male pattern androgenetic alopecia, which often presents as a receding hairline. Examination of this area is critical, especially in early detection of hair thinning and baldness patterns.

2. Vertex Region Located at the crown of the head, the vertex region is a pivotal area for assessing common hair loss disorders like male and female pattern hair loss. Thinning in this area can be an early sign of androgenetic alopecia. The vertex region’s health is indicative of the overall hair density and distribution on the scalp.

3. Parietal Region The parietal region, encompassing the sides and towards the top of the head, is often affected by conditions like tinea capitis and scalp psoriasis. When examining this area, attention is paid to the hair’s thickness, texture, and any signs of scaling or inflammation.

4. Occipital Region The occipital region, at the back of the head, is less prone to hair loss, but it can be affected by conditions such as alopecia areata and seborrheic dermatitis. Examination involves looking for patches of hair loss, redness, or scaling. The occipital region is generally resistant to androgenetic alopecia in most men and women (though there are some exceptions), and so it is usually the area of the scalp where hair follicles are harvested for hair transplantation.

5. Nuchal Region The nuchal region, located at the lower back of the head near the neck, can be susceptible to irritations and fungal infections due to sweat and friction. Some people find it is an area in which they experience ingrown hairs. It’s useful to check for signs of inflammation, infection, or unusual hair loss patterns in this area.

6. Temporal Region The temporal region, at the sides of the head above the ears, can show temporal fibrosing alopecia. It may also be an area where there is hair thinning in men with extensive androgenetic alopecia. It is important to note changes in hair density and texture in this region, as they can be indicative of broader scalp or systemic issues.

7. Sideburn Region The sideburn region, though often overlooked, can reveal signs of scarring alopecias and dermatological conditions like lupus. An examination should include a look at hair growth patterns, texture changes, or skin discoloration.

Subregions and Their Importance

Each main region of the scalp also encompasses subregions that require detailed examination. For example:

a. Frontotemporal Area The frontotemporal area, spanning the frontal and temporal regions, is critical in assessing androgenetic alopecia’s progression. Thinning or recession in this area is often more pronounced and can provide insights into the disorder’s severity and rate of progression.

b. Vertex-Occipital Area The vertex-occipital area connects the vertex and occipital regions. While this area is less likely to experience severe hair loss, disorders here can indicate more generalized scalp conditions.

c. Parieto-Occipital Area The parieto-occipital area, bridging the parietal and occipital regions, is a common site for psoriatic plaques and dermatitis. This area’s health is vital for understanding the spread and impact of these conditions.


The examination of scalp disorders requires a thorough understanding of the scalp’s various regions and their subregions. Each area can present unique symptoms and conditions, necessitating a detailed and comprehensive approach to diagnosis and treatment. Recognizing the signs and patterns of hair and scalp disorders in these regions is essential for effective management and therapy.

By understanding the specific characteristics and vulnerabilities of each scalp region, medical professionals can provide targeted and effective care, improving patient outcomes in managing scalp disorders.


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