Let’s cut to the chase: a flaky scalp is annoying. It may be itchy, inflamed, or just keep you from wearing the stunning black outfit you have in the back of your closet. Most of the time those flakes feel like a minor inconvenience, but they can be something that weigh on your mind when you’re trying to look and feel your best. If Head & Shoulders isn’t cutting it for you, here are
What causes dandruff?
is easy to spot, but its cause is often mysterious. Not shampooing enough can allow oils and skin cells to build up, resulting in flakes. Sensitivity to hair care products can lead to red, itchy, and scaly skin (doctors call this contact dermatitis). A fungus called malassezia is also a common culprit. Although it lives on the scalps of most adults, it only causes irritation in some (lucky you!) and why it is irritating to some people and not others is still a mystery. Seborrheic dermatitis is another scalp condition that is marked by red, greasy skin and white or yellow flakes and can also affect any places rich in oil glands like your eyebrows, the sides of your nose, and your sternum, to name a few. Finally, your flakes may be caused by good ol’ fashioned dry skin! If you are dry on other parts of your body, chances are your scalp is no exception.
Tips and tricks to keep flakes at bay
- Wash your hair often – this helps keep flakes from forming.
- Try a dandruff shampoo like Selsun Blue or Head & Shoulders – let it sit for five minutes before rinsing to make sure it’s as effective as it can be!
- Resist scratching – it will only make your scalp more irritated and may result in hair loss.
We asked an Apostrophe dermatologist what he recommends for a flaky scalp. Dr. George Skandamis says,
“For flaky scalp I recommend a shampoo like Selsun Blue or Head & Shoulders to be used at least 3 times a week. The shampoo should be used on the scalp skin and left on for a few minutes before rinsing. A light oil, like coconut, can be used to moisturize the scalp skin and help lift off scales. For severe scaly scalp, Neutrogena T-Sal shampoo can help, as can application of Bakers P&S solution, which is a light oil with salicylic acid to help remove scalp scales. This can be used nightly with a shower cap and rinsed off with an anti-dandruff shampoo in the morning. A topical steroid from a dermatologist can also be helpful to reduce itching and inflammation.”
If you’ve tried over-the-counter methods in the past and your scalp is still itching, don’t hesitate to talk to a doctor! A flaky scalp may seem like a minor inconvenience, but often a prescription from a dermatologist can be an easy and quick fix to that irritating scalp that’s been bugging you for years.
Have a tried and true method for beating dandruff? Let us know on Twitter @hi_apostrophe or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!