Get To The Root Of and Combat a Dry Flaky Scalp With These Remedies
We’ve all been there before, you’re about to head out the door and see tiny dry flakes all near your scalp. It’s incredibly frustrating and oftentimes hard to get rid of completely. You may be asking yourself, what are these flakes and why do I have them? This is your guide to stopping a dry flaky scalp at the root.
- A dry, flaky scalp is most times caused by a lack of moisture and dehydrated skin. This can be from several different things including shampoo, hair products, and climate
- While dandruff oftentimes presents itself in the form of large flakes, it is actually a completely different skin condition that is caused by an overproduction of oil
- There are several natural remedies to combat dryness and flakiness. Because the cause is dehydration, many at-home remedies suggest using various oils to re-hydrate the scalp
What causes a dry flaky scalp?
A big issue that people run into when trying to combat a flaky or dry scalp is not really understanding what it is or where it comes from. When our scalps lose too much moisture (what we call transepidermal water loss), the skin gets particularly dry and irritated and begins to flake off.
There are several reasons why your scalp is losing water or moisture in the first place. Many people look at external causes first. Hair products such as shampoos, conditioners, gels, and sprays can cause excessive drying, especially if they are not properly removed. Product buildup makes it difficult to effectively cleanse the scalp, leading to various issues, not just a dry and flaky scalp.
The weather can also have an effect on your scalp. Just like the skin on our face and body, our scalp is also protected by a layer of skin that can likewise be dried out by the weather.
There are also several internal causes of a dry flaky scalp. For starters, because a dry scalp comes from a loss of moisture, it oftentimes is a sign that our body as a whole is dehydrated. A simple fix to this is to drink more water. I know it sounds obvious and almost cliché at this point. Dehydration causes so many health issues both physically and mentally and increasing your water intake can help to ease some symptoms, promoting better health overall.
Underlying skin conditions are also a huge factor when it comes to developing a dry and flaky scalp. The most common underlying condition is psoriasis. Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that causes skin cells to grow too quickly and pile up on top of one another, creating “patches” on your skin that are red and itchy.
While psoriasis is not curable, it is very treatable and flare ups can oftentimes be controlled with certain lifestyle changes. Typically, those who struggle with psoriasis on their body also struggle with it on their scalp but it is harder to identify because the patches are covered by hair.
What is the difference between a flaky scalp and dandruff?
One of the most common misconceptions when it comes to a dry and flaky scalp is mistaking it for dandruff and treating it accordingly. There actually is a very big difference between the two; while the side effects may be similar, their causes are almost polar opposites.
We now know that a dry scalp is caused by dehydration and a lack of moisture. Dandruff, on the other hand, is caused by an excess of oil along with an overgrowth of yeast called malassezia. The excess oil production causes your skin cells to pile up and shed, appearing as “flakes” similar to a dry scalp.
Many times dandruff, also known as seborrheic dermatitis, is passed along through genetics. But dandruff can also be caused by stress, hormones, and underlying medical conditions. So, while these two conditions have almost identical symptoms, knowing which you struggle with is key to combating the flakes.
What are natural remedies & products to combat the flakes?
While there are several natural remedies to combatting a dry and flaky scalp, it’s important to remember that there are also many prescription and medicated products. If you are struggling with a dry and flaky scalp and have tried at-home remedies and nothing helps, talk to your dermatologist. Your dermatologist may be able to prescribe a variety of medicated shampoos, scalp oils, topical antifungal creams, or a topical corticosteroid.
However, if you prefer a natural remedy or want to see if you can cure these flakes on your own, there are many at-home treatments that also have great success. Because the root of the problem stems from the scalp being dehydrated, these remedies attempt to bring hydration back to the scalp using various oils. Some of these oils include:
- Coconut oil
- Tea tree oil
- Olive oil
- Avocado oil
- Jojoba oil
It is also recommended to use aloe vera, witch hazel, mashed bananas, apple cider vinegar, yogurt and egg, and many more. All of these suggested remedies are meant to rehydrate the scalp to combat the dryness and, in turn, reduce flaking. While these natural remedies can be helpful in clearing flakiness, it’s important to start by analyzing your daily routine and ensuring you are properly cleansing and conditioning your scalp, and drinking more than enough water.
Everyone struggles with either dandruff or a dry and flaky scalp at some point in life, especially now that we are entering the fall months with colder and drier weather. Pay attention to your body. Learn if you have an overproduction of oil or if your skin seems severely dehydrated.
Drink plenty of water and find a hair wash routine that works for you to ensure that your scalp is being properly cleansed. As always, if you feel like nothing is working for you, talk to a dermatologist, they are eager to help.
Written by Jordan Hammaren
- Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash