Been finding tiny dandruff-like flakes in your hair lately? Has your scalp developed a persistent itch that has been driving you mad? If you answered yes to both questions, you may be suffering from dry scalp. How does a case of scalp dryness differ from dandruff? First off, dandruff produces big, oily flakes that are either yellow or white. Scalp dryness also causes a formation of flakes, but they’re much smaller and dry. Second, dandruff is commonly caused by seborrheic dermatitis, a condition that irritates skin and turns it oily and red. A dry scalp is usually caused by a lack of moisture or a minor skin irritation. If you have a dry scalp, there could be other parts of your skin that may also be dry due to dehydration.
Some of scalp dryness’ most common factors are sunburn, dehydration, and frequent exposure to changes in temperature. It is possible for an adverse reaction to products you are currently using, a condition also known as contact dermatitis, to contribute to dryness. Aging can also be a factor in developing a dry scalp. Fear not, there are many ways to remedy a dry, itchy scalp. Here are ways to help your scalp return to its healthy, itch-free glory.
Do NOT scratch it!
- Scratching your scalp can cause abrasions and make things worse. Try to resist the desire to rake your nails along the itch. You can try using products that could relieve the itching, like Avlon’s KeraCare Dry and Itchy Scalp Moisturizing Shampoo. It contains natural extracts that can moisturize your scalp and lessen the irritation.
Avoid exposing your hair and scalp to excessive heat.
- Hot, steaming showers are simply irresistible in cold weather, but be warned, they may be playing a part in drying out your scalp. Hot water may not only damage your scalp but could also dry out and weaken your hair. Consider switching to warm water instead and finish off with cold water to boost your scalp’s circulation.
When styling your hair after a shower, avoid blow drying your hair. The high heat might dry out your scalp and cause more problems. If you really must use a blow dryer, try to use a warm or cool setting. It’s best to let your hair rest for an hour or so before using a dryer on it straight away.
Protect against the sun.
- Like the skin on the rest of your body, your scalp also needs protection from the sun. Your hair may not be enough to protect it from harmful UV rays. The best way to protect your hair and scalp is to wear a hat. If you can’t wear one, just put a bit of sunscreen on the exposed part of your scalp to prevent a bad case of sunburn that would make your scalp dryness worse.
Use gentler products.
- Harsh chemicals in some shampoos can strip your scalp of its much-needed moisture. If you have sensitive skin, try washing your hair with a hypoallergenic shampoo that gently moisturizes your scalp, like the Specifique Bain Riche Dermo-Calm Shampoo by Kerastase. It contains glycerol for hydration and calophyllum oil, which lessens inflammation.
Don’t over wash your hair.
- The scalp produces natural oils called sebum to protect the skin and encourage hair growth. Washing your hair too often removes this essential layer of oil and makes your scalp dry and irritated. Try cutting the times you wash your hair down to two to three times a week.
If you also have dry hair, keep in mind that moisture is important to bring it back to full health. Do not stop conditioning your hair even when you’re not using shampoo. If you have oily hair, you can wash your hair a bit more frequently than just twice or thrice a week. Just make sure to use a shampoo that is made for daily cleansing and wouldn’t dry your hair out. If you are unable to do a wet wash, you can either skip a day or use some dry shampoo to lessen the buildup. You could also use coconut oil to ease a dry scalp. Just apply the oil regularly into your hair for half an hour before a wash, then use a mild, sulfate-free shampoo.
- Dehydration is one of scalp dryness’ main factors. Remembering to drink the recommended amount of water per day is important for preventing or healing dry skin. Try to drink 1.2 liters of water a day or more in warmer temperatures and when you’re more physically active.
Have a healthy, balanced diet.
- The scalp, like the skin on the rest of your body, would benefit from a balanced diet. Consume foods that are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, mackerel, roasted soybeans and walnuts. Omega-3 fats have many other benefits to offer, like improving sleep and helping fight off depression and anxiety, in addition to keeping your skin healthy and protecting it from sun damage.
Vitamin A and iron each play an important part in keeping your skin healthy. Vitamin A aids in skin cell maintenance and function and plays an important role in the circulatory and immune systems’ functions. Some Vitamin A-rich foods you can try including in your diet are dairy products, sweet potatoes and orange fruits and vegetables. Iron is essential to maintaining a healthy circulatory system. If you are a woman between the ages of 19 and 50, you will need 18mg of iron a day, while men need 8. The scalp and skin need oxygen and nutrition, so the best way to providing them the care they need is to include Iron in your diet. Try incorporating nuts, tofu, leafy greens, beans or poultry in your daily meals.
See a specialist.
- If you have been trying to treat your dry, itchy scalp for a month and the irritation does not ease up or gets worse, you may have to go to a doctor. It may be something more serious than a simple case of dryness. You may have eczema, psoriasis, or other conditions, all of which require immediate medical attention.
If you would prefer treating your dry scalp with ingredients you can find in your home, you can make a simple remedy with nothing but a bit of yogurt and an egg. The combination might sound a bit strange, but yogurt and egg can benefit your scalp. Yogurt soothes and exfoliates the skin while the protein and fat in eggs can nourish the scalp and protect it from free radical damage at a cellular level.
Combine a cup of plain, unflavored yogurt and a well-beaten egg. Massage the concoction into your hair and scalp, and then let it rest for 10 minutes. Keep in mind that hot water may cook the egg and make it difficult to wash out, so it’s better to use either cold or lukewarm water when rinsing the mixture off. Aside from solving your dry scalp problem, this treatment also promotes hair growth.
If you would like to try an all-natural, pre-prepared product, you can try out Just Nutritive’s Vinegar Nutritive Rinse Cleanser. Not only does it relieve dry skin, it also promotes hair growth. The cleanser contains apple cider vinegar, an age-old solution to scalp dryness and hair loss that you could also try using at home, combined with aloe vera and other organic extracts.
Before using any of the remedies mentioned above, make sure that you are not allergic to any of their ingredients beforehand. An allergic reaction can lead to contact dermatitis, an uncomfortable red rash that may cause your skin to blister up or crack. If any irritation or severe allergic reaction occurs, contact your doctor immediately.
As the age-old saying goes, an ounce of care is better than a pound of cure. Keep yourself well hydrated, handle your hair with care, and remember to maintain a balanced diet. Take good care of your body and you can kiss those scalp and skin problems goodbye.