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Dandruff and Dry Itchy Scalp Trouble Shooting

How Diagnose and Treat Dandruff and Dry Itchy Scalp Issues

Reportedly, about one in five people have tried at least one hair remedy for dandruff sometime in their life. Even though dandruff is a harmless condition, it can be both annoying and embarrassing for people who have it. Dandruff can be caused by a variety of things, including an overproduction of a type of yeast on the scalp, stress, sickness and even the change of seasons.

Sometimes, what’s believed to be dandruff is simply shampoo residue from sloppy rinsing or flaking from that gel you’re hooked on. Or it could be dry scalp caused by dry indoor heat, harsh shampoos, too-frequent shampooing, conditioners or gels applied directly to the scalp, hair processing, or a too-hot blast from a hair dryer.

Dandruff and Dry Itchy Scalp

Flaking Scalp

It probably doesn’t matter much to you whether your problem is dandruff and dry itchy scalp, or seborrheic dermatitis. What does matter is that you’re afflicted with a flaky, itchy, tight, or inflamed scalp, and you just want to fix it.

Dandruff and dry, itchy scalp are both considered forms of dermatitis. Dandruff is often mistaken for a dry scalp, but it can afflict an oily scalp just as easily as a dry one. It’s believed that dandruff is caused by an overgrowth of yeast that’s found in moderation even on healthy scalps. The yeast, Pityrosporum ovale, irritates the oil glands below the surface, and the scalp responds by accelerating the cell turnover. Dandruff results when the skin cells divide and multiply at such an accelerated rate that they reach the surface before they die and clump there, These flakes of white, scaly skin look bad, and they itch.

Sometimes, what’s believed to be dandruff is simply shampoo residue from sloppy rinsing or flaking from that gel you’re hooked on. Or it could be dry scalp caused by dry indoor heat, harsh shampoos, too-frequent shampooing, conditioners or gels applied directly to the scalp, hair processing, or a too-hot blast from a hair dryer.

If you’re coloring, perming, relaxing, or straightening your hair, your scalp can become oily, flaky, and inflamed, which may mean that you have a more severe form of dermatitis called seborrhea. One common mistake is to treat seborrhea with a harsh dandruff shampoo–that only makes it worse. So, first of all you need to know what kind of problem you have. Here’s how you can tell:

Dandruff and Dry Itchy Scalp

Dandruff Test

Turn your head upside down and brush or vigorously rub your scalp, back and forth with fingers over a sheet of dark paper. If you see tiny, dry, powdery hits, you have dry scalp. If the flakes are larger and look slightly moist or greasy. they’re dandruff. If you have large greasy flakes and your scalp is irritated and red, chances are you have seborrhea. If the scales stick to the scalp, it may be psoriasis, and if it doesn’t clear up, consult a dermatologist.

If what you have is dry scalp, first use a clarifying shampoo with cider vinegar to remove any buildup of shampoo or conditioner on the scalp. Then try an oil treatment or scalp cream designed for dry. Itchy scalp: Kiehl’s Enriched Massage Oil for Scalp, Phyto Therathrie Phytopolleine. or René Furterer Carthame Intensive Oil Supplement for Dry Hair & Scalp.

Although dandruff is generally believed not to be caused by microbes, most anti-dandruff shampoos are germicides. Go figure, most contain one of the five ingredients approved by the FDA for fighting dandruff: salicylic acid, zinc pyrithione, sulfur, selenium sulfide, and coal-tar. All of these ingredients will really dry out your scalp and your hair along with it, which puts you in the front seat of the beauty roller coaster: you got rid of your dandruff, all right, but now your hair looks like straw. Why go through all that when you can prevent dandruff in the first place?

Dandruff is seasonal, occurring more frequently and more severely from October to March, when your hair is exposed to dry indoor heat. So use the following simple rinse every couple of weeks to stay on top of the flakes.

Head Lice

Beating Dandruff the Gentle Way

Tea tree oil is an herbal antiseptic that many physicians now believe fights bacteria and yeast buildup. Try a tea tree oil shampoo like Desert Essence Keep-the-Clean Wash Shampoo, Nature’s Gate Rainwater Herbal Tea Tree Oil Shampoo, or Terrain Tea Tree Shampoo. Alphaworks by ABBA is a little stronger, because it contains AHAs along with the tea tree oil. You can also mix two drops of tea tree oil in your palm with your regular shampoo. Try this three times a week for three weeks and see if it helps.

Other herbal shampoos that work for dandruff: Penny Island Wild Lavender Shampoo, Beauty Without Cruelty Aromatherapy Daily Benefits Shampoo, Ecco Bella Dandruff Therapy Shampoo, and for the cheapest alternative, try Dr. Bonner’s Peppermint Pure Castile Soap (it will flatten your hair, but it will also squelch your dandruff).

A hair remedy that I recommend to my clients for dandruff and itchy scalp is Redken Dandruff Control. The active ingredient, pyrithione zinc, works to reduce flaking, irritation and itching according to Redken. The Redken Dandruff Control line also has a conditioner and leave-in treatment. For stubborn dandruff, try René Furterer Melaleuca Shampoo (tea tree oil with zinc pyrithione—it’s strong), Avon Controlling Dandruff Shampoo, or Phvto Therathrie Phytocyres, Philip B. Anti-Flake.

Dandruff and Dry Itchy Scalp

Dandruff Defying Rinse

A few sprigs of rosemary, 2 cups water
1. Boil the rosemary in the water and cool.
2. Rinse through the hair and massage into the scalp.

Antiseptic botanicals like tea tree Oh (aka melaleuca) are terrific alternatives to harsh dandruff shampoos. But they remain a big secret because they’re not FDA-approved for use as “dandruff shampoos.” Nonetheless, gentle shampoos that include tea tree oil, rosemary, or sage can really work to control dandruff, and they won’t dry out your scalp or hair. If your flaking is severe, you may need a true dandruff shampoo. In that case, alternate your dandruff shampoo with a gentle herbal shampoo to go easier on your hair and scalp. It’s worth the splurge for a better-quality dandruff shampoo especially since it will last longer because you won’t use it for every shampoo.

If none of the above treatments works see a dermatologist because you may have seborrhea or psoriasis which mimic dandruff but often require medical treatment.

  





4 Comments »

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  3. Hi Barb, So many people are prone to dandruff and it is such a common ailment but very few take it seriously. Some spend big money to get it treated and some others try a remedy and fail. You blog shows how to test for dandruff as well as treat it. I loved to learn by watching the video.

    Comment by P Batul — October 29, 2015 @ 12:45 am

  4. Good advice was about hot water. Make sure to read and follow instructions properly. Also, make some extra time to shower since majority of these shampoos require being left on for 5-10 minutes and lather at least twice.

    Comment by Joan — February 13, 2015 @ 5:50 am

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