Most of us at some point in our lives will suffer from scalp irritation. Below are some of the key causes of redness, itching, flakiness and tips on how to maintain a healthy scalp.
WASHING YOUR HAIR
Malassezia yeasts thrive in an oily environment and when these overgrow, your scalp can become flaky and irritated. Just like your skin, your scalp contains sweat and sebaceous oil glands, and it is constantly replacing old skin cells with new ones, so you need to clean it just the same. Make sure you give your hair two shampoos to really clean the scalp. The first shampoo prepares your hair and scalp for the second shampoo which is the proper cleanse. Make sure you rinse your hair thoroughly before applying conditioner, to your mid-lengths and ends, no need to put it on your scalp.
STRESS AND HORMONES
Your scalp, like the rest of your skin, can be a great indicator that you are under stress. Cortisol, the stress hormone, can increase sebum (oil) production on your scalp and when it spikes it can trigger skin irritation and inflammation. If you are going through a stressful period you may find that your scalp gets itchy, flaky and greasy.
During your menstrual cycle, hormonal shifts can have a big impact on your scalp. Have you noticed how greasy your roots get a couple of days before your period? This excess oil can also trigger flaking and itching.
Foods that affect the skin on your face can impact your scalp. Dairy products especially cheese, as well as very sugary and spicy foods, can cause a reaction and flare-up on your scalp. Other known scalp aggravators are white wine, champagne, and red peppers. But this is not the same for everyone. It’s best to use a process of elimination to find the foods that are your triggers. A diet containing foods rich in anti-inflammatory Omega 3 – oily fish, nuts and seeds – can really help with the condition of your skin and scalp.
A flaky scalp isn’t necessarily dandruff, it’s just a flaky scalp bought on by any of the above. Dandruff occurs when specific yeasts increase and cause an imbalance with the microflora of your scalp. If dandruff is an ongoing concern, you could be sensitive to normal levels of naturally occurring yeasts.
Piroctone Olamine (PO) is an active ingredient which targets the yeast responsible for dandruff. Shampoing daily with products that contain PO can help rebalance your scalp microflora and stop dead skins cells accumulating.
Products containing Camphor or Witch Hazel are also great at soaking up excess oil and helping to relieve an itchy, flaky scalp.