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Gray's subject #105 378
Artery supratrochlear, supraorbital, superficial temporal, occipital
Vein superficial temporal, posterior auricular, occipital
Nerve supratrochlear, supraorbital, greater occipital, lesser occipital
Lymph occipital, mastoid
MeSH Scalp
Dorlands/Elsevier s_03/12721502
For other uses of the word, see Scalp (disambiguation)

The scalp is the anatomical area bordered by the face anteriorly and the neck to the sides and posteriorly.



It is usually described as having five layers, which can be remembered with the mnemonic "SCALP":[1]

  • S: The skin on the head from which head hair grows. It is richly supplied with blood vessels.
  • C: Connective tissue. a thin layer of fat and fibrous tissue lies beneath the skin
  • A: The aponeurosis (or galea aponeurotica) is the next layer. It is a tough layer of dense fibrous tissue which runs from the frontalis muscle anteriorly to the occipitalis posteriorly
  • L: The loose areolar connective tissue layer provides an easy plane of separation between the upper three layers and the pericranium. In scalping the scalp is torn off through this layer. It also provides a plane of access in craniofacial surgery and neurosurgery. This layer is sometimes referred to as the "Danger Zone" because of the ease by which infectious agents can spread through it to emissary veins which then drain into the cranium. The loose areolar tissue in this layer is made up of random collagen I bundles, collagen III and is highly vascular and cellular. It will also be rich in glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) and will be constituted of more matrix than fibers.
  • P: The pericranium is the periosteum of the skull bones and provides nutrition to the bone and the capacity for repair. It may be lifted from the bone to allow removal of bone windows (craniotomy).

Blood supply

The blood supply of the scalp is via five pairs of arteries, three from the external carotid and two from the internal carotid:

  • internal carotid
    • the supratrochlear artery to the midline forehead. supratrochlear artery is a branch of ophthalmic branch of the internal carotid artery.
    • the supraorbital artery to the lateral forehead and scalp as far up as the vertex. supraorbital artery is a branch of ophthalmic branch of the internal carotid artery.
  • external carotid
    • the superficial temporal artery which gives frontal and parietal branches to supply much of the scalp
    • the occipital artery which runs from posteriorly to supply much of the back of the scalp.
    • the posterior auricular artery , a bransh of the external carotid artery , ascends behind the auricle to supply the scalp above and behind the auricle.


The scalp is innervated by the following:[2]

  • Supratrochlear nerve and the supraorbital nerve from the ophthalmic division of the trigeminal nerve
  • Greater occipital nerve (C2) posteriorly up to the vertex
  • Lesser occipital nerve (C3) behind the ear.
  • Zygomaticotemporal nerve from the maxillary division of the trigeminal nerve supplying the hairless temple
  • Auriculotemporal nerve from the mandibular division of the trigeminal nerve

Role in aesthetics

The scalp plays an important role in the aesthetics of the face. Androgenic alopecia, or male pattern hair loss, is a common cause of concern to men. It may be treated by medication (eg finasteride) or hair transplantation with variable success. If the scalp is heavy and loose, a common change with aging, the forehead may be low, heave and deeply lined. The brow lift procedure aims to address these concerns.


The scalp is a common site for the development of tumours including:

Scalp conditions

  • Dandruff -- A common problem due to the excessive shedding of dead skin cells from the scalp
  • Cutis verticis gyrata -- A descriptive term for a rare deformity of the scalp.

See also

  • Trichology -- the scientific study of hair and scalp
  • Trichodynia -- burning scalp syndrome

Additional images


  1. ^ Mnemonic at 258
  2. ^ Mnemonic at 2046
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Scalp". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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