Regardless of the time of year, a dry and flaky scalp can be extremely irritating and embarrassing. Apart from the constant urge to scratch it, dry scalp is correlated to accelerated hair loss as well.
What is the link between the two?
Although they can occur independently, there may sometimes be a link between hair loss and scalp itching. There can be various reasons for a dry and itchy scalp such as fungal infections, allergic reactions to hair products, inflamed hair follicles, etc. – they can cause hair loss. In other cases, scarring on the scalp can cause severe itching because scar tissue can damage the nerve fibers in the skin. If a person's hair loss has led to the formation of scar tissue, this may be causing the itching.
If you scratch a dry scalp repeatedly or aggressively, it leads to extensive damage of the skin on your scalp and hair follicles, so very soon you notice lots of hair fall, along with bleeding and scabbing.
What are the reasons for a dry and flaky scalp?
Otherwise known as dandruff, and even though the condition makes the scalp look dry, it is actually due to having too much oil. Dandruff is caused by an overproduction of oil or other secretions in the skin, or an increase in normal skin yeasts. The oil on the scalp prevents dead skin cells from shedding like they normally do, so they become more apparent in the form of flakes along the hairline.
Hair Products and Styling Habits
If you don't have dandruff, your hair styling products or habits could be the cause too. Some gels, creams, balms, pomades and sprays can build up on your scalp and form tiny flakes and itching. Other products contain ingredients that may cause a contact dermatitis rash from irritation or allergies. For instance, a hair dye ingredient called paraphenylenediamine is a common reason for skin and scalp allergies. A dry scalp also depends on how frequently you shampoo. If you do it too often, the scalp dries out, but shampooing infrequently causes oil build up on the scalp, so it feels flaky and itchy.
Psoriasis is a common skin condition that can cause redness, flaking, and scaling on your scalp. Scaliness is thicker and more pronounced in this case as compared to dandruff, and prescribed medicines could be required to control it.
Even though you might not be prepared for the fact that what you are eating can be trigger for skin conditions, it is assuredly true! Some foods rich in carbohydrates can contribute to increased yeast on your scalp, which results in flakes.
How can you combat a dry and itchy scalp?
Everyone experiences problems due to a very dry scalp at some point; however without treatment it can become a chronic problem leading to itchiness and dandruff. Here are a few methods to deal with it – take a look:
One of the most effective and easiest ways to treat a dry scalp is opt for a scalp massage. You can give yourself a gentle massage by simply rubbing your fingertips in a gentle, circular motion over your scalp while shampooing or applying oil. The reason why scalp massage works is because it can stimulate production of natural oils and boost blood circulation towards hair follicles, so they receive more nutrients. This process leads to healthy hair growth.
Using lukewarm oils during massage can not only be therapeutic, but can also work as natural anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial agents which can resolve itchiness and soothe the scalp. Always run a boar brush through your hair as the brushing motion helps to carry natural oils produced by the scalp all the way down to the end of the hair shaft. This results in shiny, well-conditioned hair and removal of any oil or hair product build-up on the scalp. A pre-wash massage with a boar brush opens up pores on the scalp and removes dead skin cells, so the scalp is thoroughly cleansed and moisturized.
When the scalp isn’t producing sufficient natural oil sebum, the hair starts to look dull, while the scalp is extremely itchy. By nourishing the scalp with a scalp treatment, you can instantly soothe and fix the main cause of dryness and itchiness. Please choose the correct type of hair treatment conditioning mask as per your hair type. A good scalp treatment should be left in for at least 20 minutes to fully penetrate the scalp. Once the treatment is complete; rinse hair with cool water to help close the hair shaft and seal in maximum moisture. Do it at least once a week to get desired results.
It is necessary to stay hydrated, because dehydration not only affects the skin on your face and body, but also causes dry scalp. When your body is dehydrated, you may have noticed how dry your skin becomes, as well as other symptoms such as feeling exhausted and maybe even sick but probably haven’t noticed the resulting dryness on your scalp.
The scalp can dry out as it is often expose to direct sunlight and other external elements that can be harmful. Sometimes it isn’t moisturized enough. These factors contribute to a dry, itchy and in more serious cases a flaky scalp. The general advice is to drink six to eight glasses of water per day for optimal hydration; however, this figure does vary per person according to climate and levels of activity.
Changing Shampoo and Hair Products
As mentioned, a dry scalp can be caused by shampooing too regularly or by using products which are too harsh for your scalp and hair. Ideally, you shouldn’t shampoo on a daily basis, or you can use a product with a gentle formula specially formulated for dry hair. Frequent washing with hot water and hair products which contain alcohol can also contribute to drying out the scalp and worsening the condition. Minimize using heated hair products and hair dryers to avoid hair drying out and allow the scalp to have a chance to recover and naturally nourish itself. “Not using” styling products might not be an option, but you can buy better quality products that create a protective layer over your hair shaft to create softer, shinier and smoother hair.
Changing Your Diet
A poor diet which is deficient in key nutrients which are meant to support skin health, can be a leading factor in the development of dry scalp. By following a healthy well balanced diet, many people have found relief from their condition. These are the key nutrients your hair follicles need to thrive:
- Zinc – As per research, hair, skin, teeth and nails can’t grow without zinc, so the mineral is necessary for healthy tissue growth and repair throughout the entire body.
- Vitamin A – liver, eggs, dairy products and many fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of vitamin A which is known to support the maintenance and function of skin cells. By ensuring that enough vitamin A is included in your diet, you can easily minimize dry scalp.
- Omega-3 fatty acids – dry scalp can be a sign that you lack these fatty acids in your body. It leads to dry skin and poor blood circulation, which are common reasons for dry scalp.
A diet high in sugar can worsen dandruff, so your scalp becomes excessively dry. Dandruff is often associated with dry scalp and attributed to the candida yeast; therefore an over-consumption of sugar can promote growth of this yeast and contribute to the problem.
Using Coconut and Tea Tree Oil
Coconut oil is well-known for its moisturizing properties – when applied to the hair, it helps regain the moisture that has been lost, and treats excessive dryness. It comes with anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties too. Combining tea tree oil with coconut oil and applying the mixture to your hair can encourage blood circulation to follicles and the scalp, which promotes the supply of essential nutrients. Between hair washes, the oil can act as a protective barrier and seal moisture into the hair so that it remains soft and shiny.
Some prefer to use warm coconut oil as a scalp treatment by applying directly on their hair – it can be worked into the hair using a comb, and should be left on for a few hours, so it seeps deep within, before shampooing. Not only does it smell great, but as it is completely natural and a much better alternative to most products available on the market which offer similar results. You can also add a few drops of 100% tea tree oil to your regular shampoo prior to washing your hair.
So if you have noticed a lot of hair fall recently, the cause might a dry scalp, so you should start following these remedies immediately, instead of neglecting the issue, or the problem might become worse. You can even consult a dermatologist to know if you can use a medicated shampoo to treat a dry scalp.