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What Can I Do About My Dry Scalp?

Dry, cold weather comes around every year—and often with it comes dry scalp.

Some people experience it occasionally, and for some, it can be a chronic problem.

However often it happens to you, there are things you can do to treat the problem and take care of your scalp.

First – Is It Dry Scalp?

The first thing you should do is make sure what you’re actually dealing with is dry scalp, as it can sometimes be confused with dandruff, or the more serious skin condition, eczema.

Dandruff, a more common scalp condition, may look similar to dry scalp, with visible white flakes in your hair or on your shoulders. Researchers have a few different theories as to what causes dandruff--a fungus or other type of scalp infection, excessive oils secreted by the scalp, or simply a sensitivity to certain hair products.

No matter what causes it, dandruff flakes are just skin cells. Just like our skin, our scalp sheds dead skin cells—dandruff is just a speeding up of that process. The faster that shedding process speeds up, the worse dandruff can get.

Eczema is a skin condition that can be diagnosed by a doctor, and would likely affect your skin in several places on your body, not just your scalp. Doctors can often recommend prescription-strength skin creams and lotions to help treat eczema, along with natural products like petroleum jelly, moisturizers and oatmeal baths.

What Causes Dry Scalp?

Dry scalp is most commonly experienced in cold weather, when moisture and humidity levels in the air are low. Indoor heaters are often kicked into high gear during cold weather, which can significantly dry out the air, leading to dry skin and dry scalp.

Dry scalp can often make your scalp feel itchy and tight, which can lead you to see some white, flaky scalp cells that look similar to dandruff, but the itching should not be excessive.

The Dangers of Untreated Dry Scalp

Yes, dry scalp is annoying and can sometimes be embarrassing if it causing itchiness and white flakes—but it can also be more serious than that.

Untreated dry scalp can cause your hair to look dull and lifeless, and even cause frizziness. More seriously, it can also cause your hair to become brittle, break and even fall out, and in extreme cases even lead to hair loss.

So, don’t ignore that dry scalp—your scalp needs just as much attention as your face. There are over-the-counter treatments and products you can use to treat it. By adding a mere one or two steps to your daily hair regimen in the winter, you can ease your dry scalp during the cold and windy months.

Treating Dry Scalp

First, make sure you’re using the right products, says hair stylist Mora Naieem of Cutting Edge By Mora in Arlington, Virginia.

“We take care of our face by using good products, and the scalp is an extension of our face--so it's important to use good products,” Naieem advises.

Naieem says Moroccan oil is one of the most effective retail products she includes in her regimen for clients suffering from dry scalp. She recommends treating the scalp with the oil before shampooing.

The Mayo Clinic recommends using a soft-bristle brush, such as a boar bristle brush, to gently massage the scalp. The bristles will help dislodge dirt, dust and product residue, as well as stimulate the scalp to produce natural oils, and help distribute them throughout your scalp.

Following the scalp massage, the Mayo Clinic agrees that using a product such as Moroccan oil can help deeply moisturize the scalp, and help lock in that moisture.

Naieem and other health experts also say that “hair masks” or home remedies such as olive or coconut oil can also work wonders.

Simply work the oil into your scalp, and then let it sit for a minimum of 15 to 45 minutes (you can wear a shower cap over it) before rinsing and shampooing as usual.

Choosing the Right Shampoo & Conditioner

“Detoxing” or deep-moisturizing shampoos can be best for those suffering from dry scalp. Detoxing shampoos can help reverse the damage from over-styling or daily product use by thoroughly cleansing the scalp, and professional moisturizing shampoos can help lock in moisture. You can also find shampoos that have Moroccan oil built in.

If your dry scalp is serious or persistent, you may want to try a medicated shampoo. These shampoos are developed by dermatologists to prevent stripping the scalp of natural oils during washing, and are usually made with natural, botanic ingredients that are less likely to irritate the scalp.

Shampoos with natural ingredients can help. For example, shampoos that contain Tea Tree oil have proven to be effective against dry scalp. They help prevent excessive buildup of oils that irritate dry scalp as well as product residue. In particular, the Mayo Clinic says Australian Tea Tree Oil has been found to help fight fungi and scalp bacteria, while also helping to fortify hair follicles with protein.

“Personally, I love Moroccan oil and hair products by It’s A 10,” says Naieem.

Need help treating your dry scalp? Call or text Cutting Edge By Mora at (571) 249-6962 with your name and desired service to request an appointment.

Cutting Edge By Mora is located at 3000 N. 10th St., Suite C, in Arlington, Virginia in the Clarendon Metro area.

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