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Natural hair care essentials to nourish a flaky scalp

A flaky scalp is unsightly, irritating and can really drive you to distraction if it itches and burns. A flaky scalp is noticeable when skin flakes fall from your scalp onto the hair shaft and onto your shoulders. This is often referred to as dandruff and it’s the normal life cycle of skin cells but when a lot of noticeable flaking occurs it can point to a problem.

What Causes Dry Scalp

A flaky scalp is caused by several conditions and lifestyle choices, but it can be fixed with shampoo for a dry scalp and dry scalp treatments.

A dry scalp may be caused by medical conditions but often it’s the result of over-washing or a reaction to shampoo. Over-washing your hair strips out natural oils leaving your scalp dry and exposed. Natural oils are needed to maintain skin health and removing oils leads to dry skin and itchiness. People with a flaky scalp tend to wash their hair a lot to remove the flakes which lead to an ever drier scalp.

Other reasons for a dry scalp include:

Psoriasis and eczema: These are conditions that need medical treatment. Excessive flakes are caused by a buildup of skin cells that shed. This can be painful and lead to soreness or infections but a doctor can prescribe a shampoo that soothes psoriasis or eczema scalp rash.

Poor nutrition: If you have a poor diet your skin will suffer as a result. Remember that your scalp is skin too and it needs nutrients. Cutting out fatty, salty and sugary foods is a good start. You should replace these with more oily fish, nuts, beans, leafy green vegetables and fruit. A supplement for dry scalps can also boost your nutritional levels and improve a flaky scalp.

Dehydration: Many of us don’t drink the recommended eight glasses of water a day. Dehydration is a common issue that causes headaches, tiredness, and problems with your immune system. Dehydration can cause a dry scalp so drink more water if you have flakes. Heat: Hot water on your scalp tends to dry it out so use tepid, cool water when washing your hair and avoid using a hairdryer every day. If it’s sunny you should protect your head from sunburn.

Cold weather: The UK often has cold weather and this can dry out your scalp if it’s exposed. Central heating systems dry up oils and moisture on your scalp too.

What Causes Itchy Scalp

An itchy scalp is often the result of a dry scalp although oily scalps can itch too, as can a scalp that hasn’t been washed regularly enough to maintain cleanliness.

The main reasons for an itchy scalp are:

  • Not washing your hair: Sebum and dirt builds up on your scalp every day and should be removed by regularly washing your hair. Itchy scalp shampoo is the best bet for consistently itchy scalps but you might find that you haven’t been rinsing your hair properly. If shampoo or hair products are left on your scalp it can irritate your skin. Sensitive scalps can react badly to products such as hair spray, heat protectors, and perfumed wax so wash and rinse your hair thoroughly.
  • Head Lice: If your scalp is itching but you have no flakes you may have picked up head lice which are also known as nits. Comb your hair over a sheet of white paper and if you spot flecks of blood, dirt or even lice buy a head lice treatment from your pharmacist.
  • Stress: Anxiety and stress can cause an itchy scalp. Stress takes its toll on every aspect of the body including the cardiovascular system, the brain and the immune system. Your scalp won’t escape the effects of too much stress.
  • Psoriasis and eczema: These skin conditions can also cause an itchy scalp that sheds flakes and the build up of excess skin cells can lead to itching and bleeding.
  • Headgear: Wearing headgear such as a baseball cap, hard hat, cycling helmet or a headscarf can cause an itchy scalp from the build up of heat and pressure.

How To Treat A Flaky Scalp

If your scalp is dry and itchy it will probably flake dead skin onto your hair and shoulders. This is a common but unsightly condition that undermines your self confidence so take some steps to treat your flaky scalp.

Use fewer hair products

Too much shampoo, conditioner, hairspray, gel and brushing can lead to flakes. Cut back on your product use or make sure you apply it only to the hair shaft rather than the roots and scalp, then make sure they are thoroughly washed out on a regular basis.

Exfoliate your scalp

Mixing a spoonful of sugar with your shampoo can give your scalp a decent exfoliation but be gentle and rinse it well.

Scalp massage

Scalp massages are relaxing but if you can’t persuade someone to massage your scalp pop some olive oil on your fingers and move them in slow circular movements across your head. This boosts blood flow, dislodges blocked pores and moistures a dry scalp.

Olive oil treatment

Leave olive oil or coconut oil on your scalp for an hour or even overnight to soothe and moisturise dry skin but make sure you thoroughly shampoo oil from your hair or it will look greasy. Use a dry scalp shampoo to make sure you don’t ruin all your good work with the oil by drying out your scalp straight away.

Tea tree shampoo

Tea tree contains antibacterial, antifungal and anti-viral properties and it’s widely available as a shampoo but tea tree can be drying when it’s used on a regular basis. It’s best to only use tea tree treatments once or twice a week in place of your regular shampoo to avoid over-drying that can cause more dandruff.

Itchy Scalp Shampoo

Specially formulated dry scalp shampoos can make a real difference to your level of comfort and the amount of dandruff caused by a flaky scalp. A flaky scalp and dandruff can be caused by a tiny fungus that lives on the scalp feeding on sebum but dry scalp shampoo fights against this fungus and stops it forming.

A specially formulated itchy scalp shampoo is the best shampoo for a dry scalp because it actively treats flakes and moisturises your hair without causing any soreness. Natural oil treatments work well, but they take time and improving your diet will take a while to show effects. Whilst you are eating well and drinking more water try a dry scalp shampoo for immediate relief from a flaky scalp.

If you have a flaky scalp that won’t improve its worth making a doctor’s appointment to check whether you have a skin condition like eczema or psoriasis because they need specialist treatments, however, if you are clear of these conditions your dry itchy scalp can be treated by washing your hair regularly with a dry scalp treatment and improving your diet. A weekly application of oil alongside the best dry scalp treatment will have you flake free in no time.

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