You’re giving a speech at a benefit you’ve worked on for months.
You’ve got the perfect pace, tone, language, and delivery. Everyone is enthralled. The audience is looking up at you in awe, and you’re nearly done when it hits you—your scalp screams, “Scratch me!”
You’d love to ignore the itchiness, but you can’t. So, you reach up and scratch, trying to play it cool. But one scratch leads to another, and before you know it, you’ve lost your words, and you’re on stage, scratching your head like crazy.
What are the reasons for a dry scalp? How can you avoid embarrassing moments like these in the future?
Knowing the cause behind an itchy or dry scalp can help you find a solution. Here, we highlight common reasons for this annoying problem, as well as possible answers.
Let’s dive in.
- Seborrheic Dermatitis
If you’re experiencing this problem, you’re not alone.
Seborrheic dermatitis is a fairly common skin condition that primarily affects the scalp, but can also occur in other oily areas like the face. The skin becomes red and itchy and can even produce stubborn dandruff or scaly patches.
One way to help prevent this dead skin build-up and severe oiliness is to cleanse the scalp daily with a gentle soap or shampoo. This solution may work, but your situation may require further treatments.
What causes this skin condition?
Unfortunately, doctors don’t really know. It may be contributed to a yeast that’s in the oil secretion, or even an immune system response. Your best solution is to soothe it in any way that works for you.
Eczema is sometimes a result of seborrheic dermatitis (commonly called dandruff), but not always. Dandruff is not eczema, but rather a symptom of eczema.
Scalp eczema is relatively similar, though, resulting in red, flaky, itchy, and inflamed skin. This skin condition can come and go over the years without warning, and although you can manage symptoms of eczema, there is no known cure-all.
Some things can trigger scalp eczema and should, therefore, be avoided. These triggers include stress, hormones, illness, genes, and medical conditions such as allergies, acne, rosacea, and others.
Most eczema treatments include topical products like shampoos or cream gels, which can remove scaly build-up and reduce itchiness.
Scalp psoriasis is another common skin disorder that affects many.
Just like eczema and seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis causes raised, red, and scaly patches on the scalp. This dryness then contributes to itchiness. Psoriasis can appear as a single patch of irritation or can cover the entire scalp.
For this skin condition, doctors don’t have a clear answer as to what causes it. Although, they do have a hunch that it comes from an immune system response that makes skin cells grow too quickly, which then turns into patches. Psoriasis is also commonly something that runs in the family, so you may question if someone you’re related to has the disorder, too.
Psoriasis can be mild, appearing in slight scaling, or more severe, resulting in dandruff-y flaking, itchiness, redness, hair loss (from picking/scratching), burning, or soreness.
Most commonly, doctors recommend topical treatments such as treated shampoos or gels. There are also OTC products like salicylic acid available, or even prescription products with higher concentrations of medicine depending on the severity of your case.
- Washing Your Hair Too Much
Luckily, this problem comes with an obvious solution: stop washing your hair so much!
When we wash our hair too often (say, every day), it can remove a layer of skin that typically holds moisture. By removing this layer, we’re drying out our scalp, encouraging it to become itchier. Our hair has natural oils that keep it hydrated, but they don’t last under excessive washing.
If you’re guilty of this habit, try reducing your washing routine over time. Start with every other day, and then gradually go down to three times a week (based on your hair and lifestyle).
- Certain Hair Products
Unfortunately, your favorite hair products may be contributing to your itchy or dry scalp.
Consistent usage of things like gels, mousse, hairspray, or wax can lead to build-up, which causes oil, dirt, and other harmful substances to get trapped on the skin. Once this build-up breaks down over time, it can produce new substances that irritate the scalp and can cause things like dandruff.
One key solution is to ensure you’re always thoroughly washing out any products, rather than allowing them to sit over time. You can also eliminate hair products from your routine for some time and monitor the results.
Now You Know the Reasons for a Dry Scalp: Here Are Some Solutions
Luckily, there are some natural remedies for soothing your itchy and dry scalp.
In fact, you may already have these items in your house. Try some of the following tactics:
- Massage melted coconut oil onto the scalp, let it sit for 10 minutes, and then wash your hair as normal
- Apply aloe vera directly to the scalp and let it sit for 10 minutes before washing your hair as normal
- Add a few drops of jojoba oil to your shampoo, which aids in hydration and prevents dryness from your shampoo
- Topically apply avocado or avocado oil to your scalp and let it sit for 10 minutes before washing it out
- Apply CBD topicals
- Mix a few drops of tea tree oil with another oil (like avocado or coconut) and massage it onto your scalp, letting it sit for 10 minutes and then washing it out
If these home remedies don’t work, you can try other methods recommended by doctors or dermatologists.
There are reasonably clear reasons for a dry scalp. Hopefully, you’ve discovered the culprit on this list, and you get to spend your time soothing your scalp rather than itching it.
No one deserves that level of discomfort. Take measures now to relieve the itch!
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