Natural Solutions for a Flaky, Irritated Scalp
In this article:
- Common Causes of Flaky, Irritated Scalp Skin
- Get a Professional Opinion
- Natural Solutions for Common Causes of Flaky, Irritated Skin
- Anti-Inflammatory Diet
- Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
- Moisturizing Hair Mask
Great news! You are not stuck with dry, flaky, itchy, or irritated skin on your scalp. Whether you’ve been dealing with this issue for years or it’s brand new to you, I have evidence-based medical suggestions that can help.
Some of the top causes of dry, irritated scalp skin include
- You’re reacting to a product that you’re using on your hair
- You’re low in omega 3 fatty acids
- You’re having allergies
- You have a condition like eczema or psoriasis
- You’re experiencing dandruff
- You have a micronutrient deficiency
- You’re getting sunburned
- Your skin needs more protection
It really is worth a trip to your doctor to get an official diagnosis about what’s going on with your unique skin condition. They can actually look at your scalp and run the proper tests to get you the right diagnosis. Once you and your doctor know what you’re dealing with, you can develop a targeted plan to treat it successfully. There’s a difference, for example, between the treatments that will heal eczema and treatments that will clear up dandruff. You’ll save money and time by making sure you understand the true problem and that you’re treating the right thing. Once you know or if you’ve got a hunch, check out some of these natural solutions and let me know if they help!
Omega 3 fatty acids moisturize skin from the inside out. Because they make up the majority of our cell membranes and lipid layers of our skin, healthy fats like omega 3’s can help keep skin moist, healthy, and intact even in harsh conditions. If you suspect that your scalp problem is simply dry skin, then omega 3s may help.
There are a number of options for increasing your daily consumption of omega 3 fatty acids. These include eating more chia seeds and flaxseeds and consuming fish like salmon, trout, and sardines. Additionally, omega 3s are available as supplements in the forms of omega 3 liquids (I like cod liver oil the best), fish oil pills, and even omega 3 gummies. Aim to consume 1-6 grams per day depending on your doctor’s recommendation. If you have a bleeding or clotting disorder, make sure that you chat with your doctor before increasing your omega 3s.
Hypoallergenic Shampoo and Conditioner
Think back. Did you start using a new shampoo or conditioner just before your scalp became dry or flaky? It could be possible that you’re reacting to ingredients in these products. Allergic or sensitivity reactions can irritate skin, cause it to lose moisture, and result in dryness, redness, and irritation. Try switching up your hair products to a hypoallergenic shampoo and hypoallergenic conditioner to see if this improves your scalp health.
Additionally, if you moved to a new home or started showering somewhere new before your scalp health changed, try adding a filter to your shower head to remove ingredients that may be irritating your scalp. If all else fails, ask your dermatologist or allergy specialist to run some allergy tests to make sure you’re not reacting to any of the common ingredients in hair products.
It could be that you’re washing your hair too much, and removing your scalp’s own protective oils during the process. Try washing your hair every other day to see if your skin improves. You can use a shower cap to protect your hair while you wash the rest of your body.
Sunscreens and Hats
Did you know that your scalp can get sunburned? This surprises most people, who’ve never been taught to apply sunscreen or wear a hat in the sun. Sunburns can cause skin to appear red and even to flake off the top layer of the epidermis. If you’ve noticed that your skin is red after spending time outside in the sunshine, consider that you might be getting sunburned! Wear a hat outdoors and apply sunscreen to your scalp when you apply it to the rest of your skin and see if this takes care of the problem.
Nutrients and Probiotics
Nutrient deficiencies and dysbiosis are thought to contribute to both eczema and psoriasis, both of which can present with flaky and irritated skin. Vitamin D is an important nutrient for skin health, and if you’re deficient, it can contribute to immune issues in the skin. Ask your doctor to make sure you’re not deficient, and consider supplementing with vitamin D if you don’t eat any of the foods that are high in vitamin D regularly, like fatty fish, eggs, and milk or have a low serum vitamin D level.
Additionally, imbalances in nutrients like selenium, copper, and zinc are common in people with eczema. To make sure you get enough of these, make sure to consume enough fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and protein sources each day, as well as a comprehensive multivitamin and multimineral supplement. You can also take a probiotic supplement that contains lactobacillus to help tip the balance in your microbiome towards one that allows for your healthiest skin.
Skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis are often linked with both blood sugar dysfunction and immune dysfunction, including food sensitivities. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity is more common in people with psoriasis than those without it, for example, as are blood sugar problems. Thankfully, both of these issues can be improved by adopting an anti-inflammatory diet like the Mediterranean diet or DASH diet. The iHerb blog has many great articles about anti-inflammatory diets including the Mediterranean diet! Ask your doctor if they are okay with you giving these diets a try for a few weeks to see if they help to improve your skin.
Dandruff can be caused by an overgrowth of Malassezia yeast that causes skin to become flaky. Anti-dandruff shampoos can help! Most people can do a trial of anti-dandruff shampoo for several weeks safely. If it eliminates skin-flaking, then you can feel pretty confident that dandruff was the culprit. Bonus: now you know what tool to use if it comes back!
One of the best categories of medicine (in my opinion) is the “can’t-hurt, might-help” form of medicine. In this case, doing a hair mask once or twice a week for a few minutes at a time is a great remedy. It can add some emollient moisture-containing ingredients to skin, which will help to decrease inflammation, reduce flaking if it’s caused by inflammation or dryness, and may improve the shine of your hair as well.
With the tips in this article, you can be on your way to a healthier scalp in no time!
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