Thu | Jan 17, 2019

Treating an itchy scalp

Published:Monday | February 2, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Randy Bowman, Assistant Lifestyle Editor

Itching can be one of the most annoying things, and it is usually a sign that something is wrong, especially if the irritation is accompanied by those embarrassing flakes. Hair Care with Flair spoke with experts of the industry, who explained what could be causing your scalp to itch.

"There are so many reasons persons have an itchy and flaky scalp or using the more common terminology, dandruff. Some of the reasons are seborrheic dermatitis, eczema and believe or not product buildup," shared Suzzane Wilson.

Dandruff is the most common culprit to blame for an itchy scalp. And for mild cases, it was suggested that an over-the-counter shampoo that contains selenium, zinc pyrithione, or tea tree oil be used. If your scalp is not itchy but more flaky, then try a salicylic acid shampoo to reduce buildup.

product buildup

"We have dealt with quite a few persons who complain of dandruff issues, but when they follow a once-per-week shampoo regimen, the problem disappears. The erroneous concept of not shampooing at least once a week because the natural oils will be removed is a huge culprit of product buildup on the hair, ultimately affecting the scalp," shared Suzzane Wilson.

An itchy scalp can also be an allergic reaction to certain hair products. Products, such as hair sprays, contain ingredients that tighten as they dry. This causes a slight pulling sensation on the scalp, leading to itchiness.

Sometimes the root of the problem is environmental, the effects of wind and sun. The way back to a healthy scalp begins with upping the moisture. Avoid hot water when washing your hair because it can strip the natural oils from your scalp, making it very dry and sensitive. In addition, use a moisterising conditioner to soothe the scalp.

According to Jane Anderson, an expert adviser on celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, " Gluten intolerance plays a huge role with many of these scalp issues." She stated that persons suffering from dandruff conditions such as psoriasis (an autoimmune disease that also affects other areas of the body), seborrheic dermatitis and eczema, (three of the most common types) who do a gluten-free diet experience a welcoming reduction in flakes.

I'm sure we have heard the saying, 'we are what we eat', and it has been proven many times over. "perfect example (is) seborrheic dermatitis and gluten intolerance. For some reason, there seems to be more than expected women who suffer with this condition and, unfortunately, many of the topical medications prescribed for treatment will cause dryness and ultimately breakage for Afro-textured hair, especially when relaxed," added Wilson.

Not all starch foods are glutenous - yam, potatoes and rice are not. Lessening the intake of 'feel good' foods such as breads, pasta, cookies, cakes, that are not glute-free can be no easy task for some.

Sometimes an itchy scalp can be a red flag signaling other, more serious medical conditions. If your scalp develops thick, scaly patches that hurt, crack, or bleed, you may have psoriasis - a chronic autoimmune disease that appears on the skin. If, along with the itchiness, your hair is falling out or breaking, you may have ringworm. If any oozing occurs, or a crust develops or pus appears on the scalp, you could be suffering from a staph infection. Your safest bet is to consult your doctor with any concerns about an itchy scalp.