If you experience a mini blizzard every time you scratch your scalp, then you may be suffering from a dry scalp. Not to be confused with dandruff which is caused by excessive sebum produced by the cells, dry scalp is a result of loss of moisture by the hair, buildup of product, weather changes, hard water, and among a host of other reasons. Some of the more common causes are listed below.
The reasons your scalp may dry up are both internal and external. Of the internal factors, the most common causes include:
- A skin condition such as atopy, eczema psoriasis or dermatitis: These conditions cause excessive production of skin cells, and cover the skin and dry it up. This causes itching and small white flakes which will come off whenever you scratch your scalp.
- Aging: As you grow older, your skin naturally losses its moisture. On the scalp, this causes white flakes of skin and itching.
- Stress: As with everything, stress either emotionally or physically, can cause excessive production of skin cells, which lead to flaking and itching.
- Hormonal changes: A change in your hormones can lead to drying out of the hair and lead to dry scalp condition.
- Genetic factors can also lead to drying up of the scalp.
Most of these internal factors may require different forms of treatment, but the causes that are more manageable are the external factors. These include:
- Changes in temperature: During the winter season, the temperatures drop lower outside and are overheated inside. This can always cause your hair to dry up.
- Failing to wash your hair often: Your hair should be washed on a daily basis or at least every other day using a moisturizing shampoo. However, you should ensure to use an adequate amount of shampoo and not an excessive amount. Excessive use of shampoo can lead to further drying of the scalp especially if it has harsh ingredients.
- Lifestyle factors: If you are an excessive smoker or have a poor diet, these are all factors that can lead to a dry itchy scalp.
- Taking certain medications can lead to drying up of the skin especially the scalp.
- Certain environmental pollutions and cosmetic products such as hair treatments and shampoos, can also lead to a dry, flaky scalp.
- Hair styling using hot combs and curling irons will usually dry up your scalps natural moisture leaving your hair and scalp dry.
- Washing your hair with excessively hot water. Your skin generally does not appreciate or react well with scalding water, even if you are attempting to kill bacteria. The hot water dries out the scalp surface and can lead to dry scalp.
Once your hair loses its moisture, the protective layer on your scalp can get compromised. This means that your scalp become prone to harmful substances which could lead to further complications. Some of the symptoms of a dry scalp include:
- Itching and irritation
- White flakes coming off your head whenever you scratch.
Treatments and Remedies
There are a number of natural home remedies that you can use to treat a dry scalp.
Deep treatments are one of the most common remedies. They may vary from individual to individual, but some of the more effective ones include:
- Deep treatment using Eggs: Eggs contain the same compound as your hair which is protein. Using them as a deep treatment ensures your hair remains moist, vibrant and has body. Mix a couple of egg yolks, olive oil and some water in a bowl, until the mixture is balanced. Wash your hair and then pat it dry to remove the wetness, but ensure it is still damp. Apply the mixture and leave it in for about 15 minutes. Rinse off with slightly warm water.
- Made out of eggs and oil, Mayonnaise is a great deep treatment product. It also contains vinegar which is essential for disinfection, and will kill off any bacteria that can cause itchiness and dryness. Simply apply a generous amount on dry hair and massage into the scalp and roots. Leave it for 15 minutes, rinse, and then shampoo as normal.
- Avocado is also great for deep treatment as it contains minerals, natural oils and vitamins which hydrate the hair. It leaves the hair feeling glossy, soft and moisturized. Simply apply a mixture of avocado, virgin coconut oil and some honey on the hair and cover with a shower cap for about 30 minutes. Wash with warm water thoroughly and then shampoo lightly.
- Other ways of treating the condition include using natural treatments such as tea tree oil which hydrates the scalp and hair. It also has antiviral and antibacterial properties which will help to fight against any bacteria which could cause itchiness.
- Honey, apple cider vinegar and even deep dark beer can be used as natural remedies to dry hair and scalp. Avoid shampoos with harsh ingredients which are likely to dry out the scalp. Instead use moisturizing or medicated shampoos whenever you wash your hair.
If these do not work, you can purchase over the counter medications which will usually help to fight the itching and flaking. If medications do not work, you may want to consult with your doctor. However, even with the above remedies, the best treatment is preventing the condition in the first place. Some of the ways you can do this include:
- Avoid using hair dryers and hot combs every time after you shower or whenever you want to style your hair. This dries the natural moisture of your hair. Also avoid using very hot water during your showers as this only aggravates the condition.
- Maintain a good healthy lifestyle. This may involve reducing your smoking habit, eating a more healthy diet, exercising more and washing your hair on a regular basis. This will translate to a healthy, not-itchy scalp.
- Protect your scalp. Try wearing a hat whenever you go out. It will not only protect your skin and face when it is extremely hot, it will prevent loss of moisture by your scalp.
Try head massage. This usually increases blood flow to the scalp and stimulate production of oil. This will ensure your scalp does not dry up and flake.