For some, hair and scalp health seems to come naturally. For others, the scalp is a constant problem. Itching, flaking, and, in some cases, even bleeding can occur at the worst possible times or even chronically. You may have struggled with scalp health since childhood, or you may be dealing with it for the first time as an adult. Either way, it’s essential to understand whether your scalp is healthy or not and how to correct any problems you may encounter.
Diagnosing an unhealthy scalp is easy enough, at least generally. Basically, you have to check for redness and flakes. Most people with scalp problems won’t even have to search for problems; the issues make themselves known through flaking, pain, and itchiness.
The more challenging aspect of diagnosis is understanding precisely what is the cause of your scalp illness. Perhaps you have slightly dry skin, resulting in dandruff and inflammation. Maybe you are sensitive to the bacteria that live on the scalp, thus resulting in dandruff. You might also suffer from generalized eczema or psoriasis. Whatever the case, if you have persistent problems, it will be helpful to get the opinion of a dermatologist, especially if you want to understand the specific issue from which you suffer.
The next step is correction. Dermatologists will almost always give you steroid creams, shampoos, and tinctures. Any of these products may be effective, but can also be expensive and short-acting. In some cases, patients will be stuck taking steroids indefinitely, only to find that their scalp irritation returns with a vengeance after stopping the use of such products.
We’re not telling you to take or ignore topical steroids; that’s up to you. There are, however, some general practices and applications that could help your scalp irritation improve. Here are several of the best.
Avoid Alcohol and Other Irritants
If you read eczema and psoriasis forums, time and time again, alcohol is identified as an irritant, especially for scalp problems. Cutting it for your diet may lead to improvement after a couple of weeks. You may wish to try cutting out other foods that frequently cause skin irritation, including dairy, wheat, sugar, etc. Never eliminate more than one food at a time, as you won’t be able to observe the effect of a single food when eliminating many.
Another common technique among scalp irritation sufferers is to attack the fungus/bacteria that live on the human scalp. The explanation most often shared among patients is that some people are more sensitive to the waste products that come from these natural microscopic organisms, and this leads to or exacerbates scalp irritation.
One frequently shared technique is to soak the scalp in coconut oil (use a hair net or scarf to prevent drips) mixed with a beneficial oil like tea tree oil. Then, wash the hair and apply 1:1 vinegar/water, allowing it to sit for a couple of minutes before re-washing. The vinegar potentially beats back the bacteria and fungus, allowing the skin to heal, and the oils promote nourishment and hydration, further promoting health and healing. Repeat at least twice weekly for the best results.
While there are many treatment options for scalp discomfort, remember that the first step is to reconsider the products you are already using. Synthetic ingredients, fragrances, dyes, and other chemicals may be worsening existing conditions. Replace your shampoo and conditioner with the below products to start treating your hair and scalp better.
- Tea Tree & Primrose Shampoo from Aubrey Organics helps to nourish the hair while also cleaning the scalp.
- Moisturizing Shampoo with Herbal Extracts Fragrance-Free from Real Purity is formulated for itchy scalps. Apply to the hair, and the included herbal extracts go to work, helping to maintain scalp health and hair growth.
- Honey & Virgin Coconut Restorative Conditioner from 100% Pure provides hydration to the hair and scalp, supporting hair growth and a healthy scalp.
- Royal Cream Regenerating Conditioner from Herbatint is ideal for color-treated hair while also working to help balance the health of the scalp.
- Protect B5 Hair Repair from Miessence is an all-in-one hair repair formula that delivers hydration to the top of the head. This formula goes to work on your existing hair while also supporting the growth of hair, softness, ends, tangles, and so much more.
Practice Good Health Habits and Sanitation
As with nearly every health problem, exercise should help, as will proper nutrition. Additionally, your scalp will benefit from regular cleaning. Use a gentle shampoo to remove bacterial buildup and wash away sweat, oils, and dirt that could exacerbate irritation.
Just be careful not to overclean your head. Some people wash their hair too much when they don’t need to. Start by applying fewer products into the hair between showers—that why you don’t need to wash it as often.
There is no easy way to eliminate scalp problems, but with regular upkeep, you should be able to avoid the worst of the symptoms. We wish you the best luck and hope you see a marked improvement in the days and weeks to come.