Everyone wants healthy, beautiful, easy to manage hair. But you can’t reach that goal if you have itchy, flaky, dry sensitive scalp. 

Itchy, flaky scalp is common, but not a serious condition, just unpleasant and can be embarrassing to have flakes from your scalp visible on clothing. You may think it’s dandruff, but it could be a sign of dry scalp. These two have the same symptoms, such as flakes coming off and showing on clothing, and an itchy scalp.

In dry scalp, the skin gets irritated and flakes off. With dandruff, the cause is too much oil on the scalp. That excess oil causes skin cells to build up and then shed. 

Your scalp, like any part of your body, needs moisture. The cause of dry scalp could be cold, dry air, contact dermatitis caused by hair care products used on your hair and scalp, such as shampoo, styling gel or hair spray. It could be you need to do a better job of rinsing the shampoo from your hair. Not rinsing well may leave hair product residue on the scalp, irritating it. Another cause could be bad habits you may be doing to your hair, such as, tight rubber bands, headbands, hair tools such as hair dryers and flat irons used frequently.

If the cause in an ingredient in your hair care product, a board-certified dermatologist can help with patch testing. They may be able to determine which ingredients may be the culprit and give you a list of ingredients to avoid.

Make sure you use a gentle shampoo. Certain ingredients are common irritants that you should avoid.  They include sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), developed as an engine degreaser. It’s now used as a foaming agent, but it may cause drying and irritation. Botanicals are used mostly for marketing to indicate a product is natural. If it truly is natural, you would have to refrigerate it or use it within a few days. They may even contain harsh preservatives to prevent mold. Fragrance is another ingredient to avoid. If you want a product to smell good, get a fragrance free one, but add a few drops of food flavoring to it.

For more information on tips for preventing or treating dry, itchy scalp, visit our Advice by Concern blog!