Dealing With Dry & Itchy Scalp
Dry, itchy and flaky scalps are common conditions which affects many of us. We caught up with Jacqui McIntosh, our Director of Education for Avlon Industries, who helps us to identify the root causes of such conditions and how to remedy it.
If you suffer from a dry flaking scalp, you could be forgiven for thinking that it is dandruff. Dry scalp falls under the same category as dandruff because the symptoms can be similar; this includes itchy scalp and flakes falling from the scalp. However, these are two different conditions. In the case of dry scalp, it manifests as the skin becoming increasingly irritated and flakes falling off. The reason this occurs is because the skin on the scalp has little to no moisture. In most cases, if your scalp is dry then the skin on other parts of the body like your elbows and legs could be dry too. Dry scalp is also triggered by other factors like, cold, dry air, contact dermatitis (caused by inappropriate products applied to the scalp like shampoos, pomades, styling gels, hairspray and other chemicals) as well as age.
In normal cell division, the skin cells on your scalp and body normally multiply when you need more of them. Once this is done, they die and naturally shed. However, when you have dry scalp, the skin cells on the scalp shed more quickly than usual. The low levels of moisture do not help, as insufficient quantities of sebum is produced to lubricate the scalp. This can often lead to a tightening feeling on the scalp.
How to Identify dry scalp
Dry scalps look gray or ashy on those with darker skin. The skin may flake and peel off, as well as become itchy and potentially inflamed if scratched or left untreated. You may also notice the skin on your scalp beginning to scale; these scales can range from white to silver and vary in thickness and intensity, depending on the severity of your dry skin and any underlying conditions. When your dry scalp persists, the flaking skin may clog your hair follicles and lead to temporary hair loss. You should check that you are using an appropriate shampoo and conditioner for your condition. You should keep a diary on your shampoo & conditioning regime, so that you can identify whether it is Dry Scalp or build up.
Dandruff is a condition of the scalp that causes flakes to appear. It may or may not be associated with seborrhoea which can occur without flakes, however dandruff can also occur without excessive sebaceous activity (the scalps over saturation of its natural oil) Dandruff is mostly common in men which suggests that an androgenic influence could be at work. Commonly associated with increased levels of sebaceous gland, it is often accompanied by itching and in some cases severe soreness of the scalp. The exact cause is unknown, but various factors increase the risk. It is not related to poor hygiene, but it may be more visible if a person does not wash or brush their hair often. Dandruff can be embarrassing and hard to treat.
Seborrheic dermatitis is a common skin condition that is associated with dandruff which mainly affects your scalp. It causes scaly patches, red skin and stubborn dandruff.
How to identify Dandruff
Dandruff is an accumulation of small white or grey scales on the surface of the scalp, either across the whole scalp or in localized patches. After cleansing the scalp flakes can re-appear within 3 -7 days, in severe cases sooner. When inflammation occurs the scalp will become intensely irritating and may need specialist scalp treatments. When greasy dandruff occurs (seborrheic dandruff) the scales on the scalp appear white or yellow or crusted on the scalp. Flakes can also be found on your eyebrows, face, sides of the nose, ears, and beard.
To identify whether you have dandruff, divide your hair into eight segments similar to an orange segment, if you see flakes within each of these segments that is an indicator of dandruff being present scalp. To aid the removal of dandruff the use of a good anti dandruff shampoo is required.
How to achieve a healthy scalp
The scalp needs hydration. Without it, dehydration results and the supply of moisture to the upper layers of the scalp decreases. This affects the natural exfoliation process of the scalp; causing dry scales and flaking of the scalp make sure you stay hydrated.Reduce the use of man-made fibers on the scalp (hats, artificial hair etc.), the use of humidifiers around the house will help balance the air in your environment.
Many scalp problems can be attributed directly or indirectly to unhealthy practices, some of which we’re not always aware of.Inadequate shampooing, using incorrect products, harsh grooming techniques and ineffective hair preparations can all influence this. Overlooking the vitality of the scalp leaves you more prone to scalp complaints like dry scalp, dandruff and seborrheic dandruff. I truly believe that the scalp should be given the same consideration that we give our skin. This is the best way to preserve its health and integrity of the scalp, giving you strong and beautiful hair.
When you have dry scalp cleansing frequently with our low pH KeraCare Dry & Itchy Anti Dandruff Shampoo will help to eradicate the condition. Our cleanser contains keratolytic (an agent that causes exfoliation of the skin), and salicylic acid, which loosens the top layer of the epidermis to remove the fungi and bacteria on the keratin surface of the scales. This should be followed with our KeraCare Dry & Itchy Anti Dandruff Conditioner, which contains Antipruritics (medications that inhibit the itching of the scalp /skin) and methanol, which has a cooling analgesic effect on the sensory nerves. Finally, apply KeraCare Dry & Itchy Glossifier to the scalp, which will moisturise the scalp to prevent dryness and flaking and help preserve the scalp’s natural moisture balance, restoring the scalp to a healthy-looking condition.
When using ourKeraCare Dry & Itchy Anti Dandruff Conditioner it should be applied from the scalp to the hair tip, ensuring that the conditioner is placed on the scalp as well as the hair to infuse follicles with the peppermint oils found in the conditioner. An extra tip: If you go to the gym, use the sauna or steam room to help induce a deeper penetration of the conditioner to the scalp directly. Put a shower cap on, and wrap your head in a towel whilst you sit in the sauna or steam room.
Your scalp already has the ability to self-lubricate as it expels sebum from the follicles and pores. Using heavy based creams and waxes creates an occlusive layer of grease over the scalp, suffocating the pores and compromising its ability to excrete oil and sweat.
Instead, use lightweight moisturiserssparingly, like KeraCare Dry & Itchy Scalp Glossifier.