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What causes scalp wrinkles and can you get rid of them?

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Prominent skin folds in the scalp are a rare condition, and very few people are familiar with it. Known in the medical community as Cutis Verticis Gyrata (CVG), this skin condition results in the thickening of the scalp.

It usually affects the central and rear parts but may also affect the entire scalp in some cases. The thickening of the scalp causes visible folds, ridges, and creases on the scalp, which may be minimal or severs depending on the condition.

The condition was first cited in 1837 by Jean-Louis-Marc Alibert and later described in 1843 by another researcher. Paul Gerson Unna coined the name Cutis Verticis Gyrata in 1907.

Table of Contents:

  • What are the types of Cutis Verticis Gyrata?
  • Can Cutis Verticis Gyrata go away?
  • How is CVG identified?
  • How rare is CVG?
  • What precautions and care should you take if you have scalp wrinkles?
  • Should I go for plastic surgery if I have CVG?

What are the types of Cutis Verticis Gyrata?

CVG was classified into primary and secondary forms by Polan and Butterworth in 1953.

There are three known forms of the condition:

  • Primary essential
  • Primary non-essential
  • Secondary

    Primary essential CVG: there is no related abnormality seen in the individual. The cause of the condition, in this case, is unknown. According to researchers, this condition may be genetic or endocrinological. This form of CVG does not result in any severe discomfort or pain. The condition usually affects men after they reach puberty. But the progression being slow and with no evident symptoms, it is hard to notice the scalp wrinkles in the early stages.

    scalp wrinkles

    Primary non-essential CVG: is associated with various neurological and neuropsychiatric conditions. These include cerebral palsy, epilepsy, etc., and ophthalmological conditions like cataracts.

    Secondary CVG: is a result of external influences like diseases or drugs that change the structure of the scalp. It is often caused by an imbalance in growth hormones. This imbalance could be due to a pituitary gland malfunction or external administration of growth hormones/ drugs that mimic growth hormones.

    Can Cutis Verticis Gyrata go away?

    There is no natural cure or medication for Cutis Verticis Gyrata. Even with treatments involving the application of pressure, the soft skin folds cannot be completely flattened. 

    The only procedure available right now is plastic surgery of the scalp to remove the excess skin. In some cases, using derma fillers like the ones used in anti-aging treatments may be effective too.

    How is CVG identified?

    Cutis Verticis Gyrata must be diagnosed by a dermatologist. They can either identify symptoms through physical examination or conduct lab tests like a skin biopsy, CT scan, or an MRI. 

    Symptoms detected through physical examination include –

    • Furrows and thickened skin folds on the scalp that are soft and spongy to touch. There may be 2 to 12 symmetric folds.
    • No changes in skin color. Only in the case of an underlying nevoid process (a genetic disorder that could make the patient predisposed to developing cancer), a change in skin color is possible.
    • Normal hair growth in the furrows but relatively thinner hair in the folds.

      A physical examination can help diagnose primary essential CVG. But if there is suspicion of primary non-essential or secondary CVG, lab tests are necessary.

      For someone suffering from primary essential CVG, the lab test reports should all be normal as there are no abnormalities associated with this category.

      How rare is CVG?

      Cutis Verticis Gyratais is quite rare, with only 1 in 100,000 people affected by it. The condition is more common among men and occurs mostly after puberty but before the age of 30.

      It is also found to be more common in people with some form of intellectual disability. 1 in 200 people with an

      What precautions and care should you take if you have scalp wrinkles?

      For anyone suffering from scalp wrinkles, or CVG, scalp hygiene is of utmost importance. Dirt, dead skin, and grime can accumulate in the folds of the skin, causing secondary infection of the scalp. Such infection can lead to severe itching, rashes, and scalp odor.

      It is important to regularly wash the scalp with a natural, clarifying shampoo that deep cleanses the scalp. Keeping the scalp folds dry is crucial as well to prevent moisture from causing more trouble.



      Applying a good moisturizer to the scalp can also help prevent further wrinkling for patients who have less severe CVG.

      Maintaining scalp hygiene will not only prevent further skin problems but may also reduce CVG related hair loss.

      Regular follow-up with your physician is also essential, at least every six months. This is important for people with primary essential CVG, too, for monitoring the progression of the condition and to detect an underlying condition, if any, well in time.

      Should I go for plastic surgery if I have CVG?

      In the case of primary non-essential and secondary Cutis Verticis Gyratais, the priority is to address the underlying condition that has caused scalp wrinkling.

      Primary essential CVG is, however, benign and does not pose any serious risk for the patient. The disfiguring scalp condition is more of a concern aesthetically and may cause psychological issues like stress, lack of confidence, and physical image issues in anyone suffering from it.

      If your scalp wrinkles are considerably deep and are causing you mental stress because of their impact on your appearance, you can opt for plastic surgery. 

      After assessing the state of your scalp wrinkles, the surgeon can remove the folds in the same way they operate on indented scars.

      But it is also important to note that if there is extensive scalp involvement, physicians do not recommend surgery due to the risks involved.

      Surgery for scalp reduction is mostly carried out when the wrinkles are limited to the back of the scalp. When the entire scalp is affected, surgery may leave behind visible scarring, which is a concern and a valid reason to avoid scalp reduction. 

      In such cases, the cosmetic surgeon may use a combination of subcision and dermal fillers to get a smoother finish without any visible scars.

      In some cases of secondary CVG, the condition may turn malignant, such as malignant melanoma. In such cases, surgical excision becomes necessary.

      If you are looking for all-natural products to maintain scalp hygiene and manage your CVG better, explore our range of plant-based skin and hair care products.

      Colleen Rosemond

      Colleen Rosemond is a beauty and wellness writer. She has over 20 years of experience reviewing various beauty brands, sharing beauty and healthcare advice, and busting beauty myths. Colleen loves what she does and considers this her way of giving back what she has gained over the years.

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