An itchy flaky scalp can drive you crazy! It can destroy your self esteem and cause you sleepless nights. Some time last year, my scalp was on fire with dandruff. It was not so itchy but I could not stand the sight of dandruff on my head especially shortly after washing my hair. This made me research on the issue intensively and luckily I was able to deal with it effectively. I realized that the solution to your itchy and flaky scalp lies squarely on finding the root cause. This will help you find the correct solution to get your scalp back on track.So here are a few reasons you might be have an itchy and flaky scalp:
1.You might be having a skin condition
The scalp is basically the skin on the top of our heads where hair usually grows. It is just an extension of your skin and sometimes what our skin reacts to affects the scalp in equal measure. Skin conditions such as eczema, dermatitis also affect the scalp sometimes causing it to be itchy and flaky. I have eczema and sometimes it affects the scalp around the nape area since my neck is prone to eczema as opposed to the rest of my body. Eczema is less often itchy but you will notice a scaly patch on your scalp.
Solution: For such skin conditions, the solution would be to see a dermatologist who will often prescribe medicated shampoo or medicated lotions to deal with the condition.
2. You might be having a fungal infection
Fungal infections on the scalp from ringworms to candidiasis are very common especially if you often visit salons where sharing of combs and brushes happen and the hygiene is poor. They not only affect the scalp, but they go deep to the hair shaft. They are the worst because your scalp would be extremely itchy at times and the more you itch, the more flaky it is. They also spread fast on the scalp once a section is infected and using oils make it worse.The symptoms would include red rashes or patches, white flaky scales, and when you wash, you might notice the infected section is soft, whitish and moist. Extreme infections can even result to pimples filled with white pus.
Solution: If you suspect that you have a fungal infection, see a doctor or dermatologist. You might be given medicated shampoo e.g. ketoconazole or oral medication for extreme cases. You might also have to wash your hair at least twice a week. Avoid sharing of personal combs and keep your tools very clean. You can also incorporate Apple Cider vinegar mixed with water in your regimen to cool any scalp inflammations.
3. Sebum deficiency
The scalp naturally produces its own oil called sebum that’s why there is really never any need to oil it. It’s always advisable to let your scalp breath after wash days and only focus on oiling the hair. Sometimes the reason your scalp is itchy and flaky is because the scalp is not producing enough sebum. This can be attributed to use of harsh shampoos which tend to strip both the hair and scalp off their natural oils, washing your hair everyday will also have the same effect and your general diet may also affect the sebum production. If you notice that your scalp is generally so dry especially after washing, then you might be experiencing a sebum deficiency.
Solution: It is therefore advisable to avoid washing your hair everyday and when you wash your hair, use a sulfate free shampoo which a very gentle to your natural hair. As for your diet, it is advisable to eat foods rich in protein, omega 3 and lots of vegetables. Let your scalp breath for a while after washing your hair but if it dries up too fast, then you can use Jojoba oil which is closest to the ph of your scalp. Tea tree oil is also a great oil for the same purpose.
4. You might be having an allergic reaction
The same way our skin reacts to products is the same way our scalp would react to products we use on our hair. When you notice that your scalp is suddenly itchy and flaky after introducing a new product, that is a hint that you might be having an allergic reaction to either the product or an ingredient in the product. Whilst my hair loves coconut oil, my small sister is allergic to coconut oil and ends up itching uncontrollably after using it.
Solution: Try and evaluate the products you are using and eliminate them one by one in order to know which product is reacting negatively on your scalp. Watch out for ingredients like silicone, sulfates, petroleum etc which tend to react with some people.
5. Use of Braid extensions/weaves/wigs
Most of us develop and itchy and flaky scalp just right after installing a new protective style. This is because braid extensions, weaves and sometimes wigs have chemicals to preserve them which can react badly with your scalp making it itchy and flaky. My itchy scalp last year started right after i started experimenting with wigs. I used to itch so much and developed a flaky scalp.
Solution: If this is so for you, then your scalp is highly sensitive and you need to go the extra mile of washing your extensions and weaves using water mixed with apple cider vinegar right before installation. You can let them air dry overnight. You can all together avoid using the particular brand of extensions or the wig that affects your scalp. Also, keep your wigs clean by washing them regularly.
Head lice are small tiny blood sucking insects that live on your head and feed off the blood from your scalp. They are highly contagious and you might therefore get them if you touch your head after touching that on an infected person, sharing personal items with someone with head lice, or using fabric items after an infected person like headbands, hats, towels etc. Unfortunately most kids in school are at a higher risk of getting lice because of how close they play together and share items. If your scalp is extremely itchy and sore, and you feel things crawling on it, then you might just have head lice.The louse bites make it very itchy and sore. You might see the lice if check your scalp closely.
Solution: It is advisable that you see a dermatologist or doctor for proper treatment . You will probably get lice treatments that have pesticides or chemicals key in killing lice. Avoid sharing of personal items and soak all your hair brushes, combs, hats, beddings etc in hot water.
7. Your hair is probably dirty
Sometimes the itchiness is caused by dirt. This is especially during the hot and windy weather when its so dusty. Other than dust, product build up on your scalp can make it itchy and very uncomfortable.
The solution is simply to wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo and conditioner, and rinse with clean water. This will instantly refresh your scalp.
Other than the solutions provided above, there are oils which anti bacterial properties that can help in the healing process (depending on the cause). Coconut oil, Neem oil, tea tree oil are some helpful oils. I incorporated Neem oil in my regimen when I was having problems with my scalp. I must warn you that it does not smell very good so you are advised to use it 15 -30 minutes before you wash your hair.
So after going through all the seven possible causes of an itchy and flaky scalp, was this helpful for you? The reasons may not be exhaustive but if symptoms persist, please seek medical attention. Please leave a comment below or any feedback on this article. I hope you find a solution to a healthy and clean scalp 🙂