You may have experienced wearing a black shirt and having it covered in small white flakes as if it’s snowing. If you’ve noticed this recently, you may be suffering from dandruff.
Dandruff is not the condition itself. Rather, it is the symptom of an underlying condition, which is dry scalp. Before we talk about the things you can do to prevent and cure dry scalp, let us first try to understand what dry scalp is, how it starts, and what triggers the skin to have this condition.
What Is Dry Scalp?
Dandruff flakes are composed of dead skin cells. These skin cells fall from a dry scalp, especially if you scratch. A lot of people think that dandruff is just caused by dry scalp, and that having “dry scalp” is due to poor hair product choices and routines. However, that has never been the case. Dry scalp is caused by a lot of conditions. Here are the most common reasons why people have dry scalp:
- Eating foods that are high in salt content. Salt, like alcohol, dehydrates the skin. This condition leads to skin flaking.
- Excessive alcohol drinking. Alcohol is known for its ability to dry the skin. Therefore, an excessive amount of alcohol in your body will negatively affect the quality of your skin, causing it to dehydrate, and thus itch and produce dandruff.
- Dry scalp can be inherited from your family. If you have parents, grandparents, or siblings who have dry scalp, chances are great that you have one, too.
- Hormonal changes. Even though dry scalp happens at any age, it is most frequently observed in teenagers. During adolescence, the body undergoes significant hormonal changes, which in turn cause side effects on the skin - from the extremely common teenage acne to dry skin.
- Lack of nutrients. Nutrients such as vitamin B and fatty acids are necessary in keeping the skin healthy. A diet that lacks these vitamins will negatively affect the skin.
- Stress affects a person’s hormones much like how hormonal changes during puberty do. High stress levels are associated with a suppressed immune system, low sex drive, and skin oversensitivity, which leads to dry scalp.
- Weather changes. The environment also plays a part in your skin’s health. Exposing your scalp to certain weather conditions such as too much direct sunlight or extremely cold climates will dry the scalp.
Apart from these very common issues, dry scalp can also be caused by underlying skin conditions. Before you conclude that any one of these is the condition you have, it is best to consult a doctor to get the right diagnosis and treatment.
- This is a condition that makes the scalp feel flaky and itchy. In more severe cases, eczema can cause the skin to be reddish and dry, even going as far as looking leathery and cracked. This condition can appear in any part of the body. Studies have shown that those with eczema have high risks of developing allergic diseases like hay fever or asthma. The causes of eczema are unknown, but it has been known to run in families, which makes scientists believe that the overreaction of the immune system that triggers eczema is a genetic condition. However, the symptoms of eczema can be worsened by stress, heat, contact with irritating fabrics like wool, and cold weather.
- Scalp psoriasis. This condition, apart from making the scalp feel and look dry, can also cause severe flaking and itching. Psoriasis is a skin condition that happens when the immune system triggers an abnormal amount of skin cells to grow in many body parts. The skin growth is not limited to the head and can also manifest in other parts of the body. People who suffer from psoriasis are very likely to experience dandruff, although it is worth noting that dandruff is not a condition that is exclusively related to psoriasis.
- Seborrheic dermatitis. This condition is also known as seborrhea. This is a common skin condition that causes symptoms like itching, redness, and flaking. The symptoms can happen in any part of the body, but if it happens in the scalp, the flaking is called dandruff. It is unknown what specifically causes seborrhea, but it has been linked to stress, genes, the yeast that normally live in the skin, and cold weather.
There are much less common diseases that can also be linked to dry scalp and dandruff, including Parkinson’s disease and HIV. People who have these conditions tend to have an increased rate of dandruff.
If you are suffering from dry scalp, here are some of the most common home treatments you can use to alleviate or possibly end the symptoms.
- Aloe vera. Aloe vera has numerous properties that can help with your scalp problems. This plant can help with inflammation and can be of great help in reducing skin irritation.
- Apple cider vinegar. Apart from being a great condiment, apple cider vinegar also works wonders for your dry scalp. First, its antimicrobial properties help prevent irritation due to fungal or bacterial growth. Second, its anti-inflammatory properties can help with exfoliation. To use this product, simply mix two parts water with one part of apple cider vinegar and apply it to your scalp. Let the mixture sit in your scalp for five minutes before washing it off using a gentle shampoo.
- Baking soda with olive oil. These two work best for dandruff because they are the perfect match for skin health. While olive oil moisturizes, baking soda prevents bacterial growth. Together, they work perfectly to moisturize and exfoliate your scalp.
- Coconut oil. Coconut oil is considered as one of the best things to use on your skin due to its benefits, a part of them being alleviating dry scalp. Coconut oil works by moisturizing the scalp and preventing the growth of bacteria and fungi with its antibacterial properties. Coconut oil has been considered one of the best treatments for seborrheic dermatitis because of its moisturizing properties.
- Mashed bananas. Bananas are popular for being natural moisturizers, thus making them great treatment options for dry scalp. Furthermore, they also prevent the growth of microbes, thus preventing recurrence of dry scalp and dandruff. All you need to do is to mash some bananas and mix it with a few teaspoons of coconut oil. Massage the mixture into the scalp and let it sit for 10 minutes.
- Tea tree oil. This herbal medication has very strong antifungal, antiseptic, and antibiotic properties that can work to help relieve dry scalp. You can purchase tea tree oil from drugstores and even online.
Apart from these natural products, here are some products that can also be of great help for your dry scalp.
- Just Nutritive Vinegar Rinse Cleanser. If your shampoo is not enough, complement it with this cleanser. This product is made using more than 20 ingredients that specifically nourish your skin. This cleanser works best in eliminating built up hair care products and can even give your hair a bouncy glow. The product also detoxifies and dissolves the impurities stuck in your scalp’s pores, leaving the skin free to breathe and absorb nutrients. It is free from sulfate, color safe, and non-irritating.
- Keune So Pure Renewing Elixir Exfoliating Lotion. This product is excellent for dandruff treatment. Made up of more than 20 natural ingredients, it is very gentle to the skin and works best for natural conditioning against dry scalp and dandruff. The two main components are Patchouli and Birch oils, both of which work best in treating dandruff and scalp irritation. Using the product will leave your scalp feeling calm and relaxed.
- Malibu C Scalp Therapy Wellness Remedy - Scalp Wellness. This product is considered as the “ultimate flake fighter” because it naturally satisfies the needs of the scalp by providing it with all the needed nutrients to stay healthy. It also offers immediate soothing, normalizes the exfoliation process, and helps in improving the scalp’s appearance. It is made from food-grade vegan ingredients that include vitamin B complex and biotin.