The scalp is a unique skin area, with its high follicular density and high production of sebum. This warm and rather dark environment, which is the scalp surface, presents a welcoming environment for the type of superficial mycotic infections that are associated with many scalp conditions.
A dry scalp can appear when its natural moisture balance is disrupted. It can be a sign of a number of potential skin conditions and the symptoms can vary from mild to severe.
Symptoms of dry scalp include but are not limited to:
- Particularly itchy and irritated scalp
- Dry and small flakes
- Dry skin patches on other body parts
- Hair loss
What Causes a Dry Scalp
When your scalp’s moisture is lost, the layer that protects it becomes weakened. This allows harmful substances to go through the skin, the most likely result of which is micro inflammations of the scalp. These irritate the scalp further and create more problems. Though this is a common problem, dry scalp is more likely to happen to people with generally dry skin.
The most common causes of dry scalp are:
- Excessive hair washing
- Cold and dry air
- Aging (skin gets drier with age)
- Hormonal changes
- Taking certain medications
- Various skin conditions, such as atopic dermatitis
- Scalp psoriasis
Atopic dermatitis (or AD) is a chronic condition and the most common form of eczema. Children are more likely to develop AD, but it could happen to anyone. People who suffer from hay fever and asthma are more prone to developing atopic dermatitis. Some of the common symptoms include:
- Dry, red skin
- Excessive itching, especially at night
- Rashes that appear on the cheeks, scalp, hands, elbow, feet, and knees
- Scaly and cracked skin
Atopic dermatitis can be long-lasting and it might take years to effectively treat it.
Psoriasis is an auto-immune disease, which causes red and scaly patches to appear on the skin. It appears when the immune system sends wrongs signals that cause the cells in a particular area to grow too quickly. When it develops on the scalp, it’s called scalp psoriasis. It can extend to the forehead and the back of the neck. Symptoms of scalp psoriasis may be:
- Red blotches on the scalp
- Dry and white dandruff-like flakes
- A dry scalp
- Bleeding (caused by itching)
- Soreness of the scalp
- Temporary hair loss
Since scalp psoriasis can be persistent, ask a dermatologist for suitable treatment.
Many common scalp conditions have similar clinical characteristics and symptoms, which complicates the diagnostic process, but a correct diagnosis is crucial when trying to determine the proper treatment.
Differences Between Dry Scalp and Dandruff
Many people confuse these two scalp conditions, since they have very similar symptoms. But even though this is the case, they have different underlying causes.
Dandruff is a very common scalp condition. It causes white and oily flakes to appear on your scalp which, unlike dry scalp, are caused by the skin on the top of your head producing too much oil. It’s usually followed by itching. Dandruff doesn’t present anything serious, but for some people it can be difficult to get rid of. It could be the result of:
- Shampoo and other hair products irritating the skin
- Seborrheic dermatitis
- Low levels of zinc and vitamin B
- Certain medical conditions (such as Parkinson’s disease)
Washing your hair with a gentle shampoo may help reduce the oil on the scalp. If the condition is more severe, try a medical dandruff shampoo. They contain certain properties that get rid of fungus from your scalp and remove white flakes.
How To Cure Dry Scalp
Having a dry scalp can be really uncomfortable, but luckily, there are a lot of ways to treat it:
1. Change Your Shampoo
One of the main causes of dry scalp is shampooing too often or using hair products that are very drying and too harsh for your skin. Avoid washing your hair every day or try a gentler formula specifically created for everyday use. Products that contain harsh chemicals and alcohol can really damage and irritate your hair and scalp. Minimizing or stopping the use of hairdryers, straighteners and curling tongs will allow your scalp to recover faster.
Drinking plenty of water is very important for your skin. Since your scalp is frequently exposed, especially to the sun, your body needs to stay hydrated in order to avoid the scalp drying out.
3. Massage Your Scalp
This could be one of the most effective treatments when it comes to dry scalp. They increase blood flow to the surface of the skin and stimulate the production of oils, which promotes hair growth. You can do this while shampooing or applying oil by rubbing your fingers in a circular motion over your scalp.
4. Use Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is known for having a lot of amazing properties that may help with various conditions. It has antibacterial and antiseptic effects and can be found in many hair and skin care products. Since it’s an essential oil, don’t apply it directly to the scalp on its own because it can cause irritation. Dilute it first with other oils, like coconut and castor oil, and leave overnight.
5. Reduce Stress
Stress can aggravate the symptoms of dry scalp. Exercise, rest and use different relaxation techniques to help you with de-stressing.
6. Change Your Diet
A poor diet that’s deficient in important nutrients is a leading factor in the development of dry scalp. If you switch to a balanced diet, it could greatly decrease your symptoms. The key nutrients that you need to add to your daily diet are zinc, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins A and B.
Dry scalp is an uncomfortable and unpleasant condition, but there are many options, as outlined above, if you’re wondering how to cure dry scalp at home. If your symptoms aren’t subsiding, consult your doctor to see if there is an underlying condition that might be causing it.