Why Is My Scalp So Dry? -- Causes and Top
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April 25, 2012, last updated May 1, 2014

By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist











Dry skin can affect any part of your body but it’s a real pain
when dryness strikes your scalp. What’s the cure for a dry
scalp, apart from a selection of hats and scarves? A dry scalp is
distressing and embarrassing, and unfortunately the condition
is common. Winter can be hard on your scalp, when
temperatures and humidity drop. And you’re also not safe in
summer, when air conditioning can cause your skin to dry out.
Why does your scalp feel dry, and is there anything you can do
to relieve it?

What Causes a Dry Scalp?

If you’re suffering from an uncomfortably dry scalp, do you
know what’s causing it? A dry scalp can be caused by a number
of factors, most of them not unusual. One of the main reasons
you have a dry scalp is because you affect your scalp in some
way when you wash it, or when you dry it, or through the
climate you are exposed to (you can read about how to
prevent these lifestyle risks below.)

Your dry scalp could be caused by atopic
dermatitis, a common
type of eczema that turns the skin dry. The most commonly
affected areas on your body are the elbows, wrists, ankles and
knees but atopic dermatitis can also affect your scalp. The
condition affects around 10 to 20 percent of children and two
percent of adults in America according to Ong PY and Leung DY
in ¨Immune dysregulation in atopic dermatitis¨, 2006.

Psoriasis is a skin condition where you suffer patches of dry,
rough skin cells that form scales over your skin.
Hypothyroidism, where your thyroid produces too few
hormones, leads to rough, dry skin because it cuts the
effectiveness of your oil and sweat glands.

Does Dandruff Cause a Dry Scalp?

Dandruff, or seborrheic dermatitis, is a common cause of dry
scalp – strange, considering the condition is often caused by
overactive oil glands. Dandruff is most prominently seen on
your scalp, where white, dry flakes and a dry itchy scalp cause
you embarrassment and discomfort. Children also suffer from
dry scalp caused by dandruff, but in infants the condition is
called cradle cap.

If you have dandruff you’re not alone - dandruff represents 25
percent of all scalp dermatosis cases according to a 2004 study
by Centro de Investigación Biomédica del Sur, Instituto
Mexicano del Seguro Social, Morelos, México. And up to 70
percent of newborns will experience cradle cap during their
first three months of life (University of Melbourne, Australia,
2003).

Is there a way to effectively moisturize your dry scalp? We’ve
looked at scientific evidence to find out the best ways to
naturally relieve a dry scalp.





























1.
Use the Right Shampoos to Help Your Dry Scalp

Treat your scalp carefully if you are prone to dryness – the way
you wash your hair and dry it can make your scalp dry and
irritated. Long, hot showers can be great for relaxation but bad
for your scalp. And harsh soaps and shampoos are murder on
your scalp, causing dryness and dandruff.

There are two main types of shampoo that help clear the dry
flakes characteristic of dandruff without drying your scalp
further.

Shampoos containing zinc pyrithione are effective against
dandruff, as are tar-based shampoos. And coal tar shampoo
was significantly better at treating dandruff than a placebo,
according to a 1999 study from PPD Development, Chelmsford,
Essex, UK.

For some people, shampooing with detergents is too harsh for
the texture of their hair or they find that almost all shampoes
cause itching. For some of those with hypersensitive scalps,  
using "clay" to cleanse their hair is an alternative. The two
types of clay most commonly used are "rhassoul clay" and
"bentonite clay".

2.
Could Cayenne Cure a Dry Scalp?

Perhaps spicy cayenne pepper is not the first thing you’d think
of to put on your dry scalp but according to research,
capsaicin, the spicy component of cayenne, can treat psoriasis
and other dry, painful scalp conditions. Topical capsaicin
improved the severity of psoriasis as well as itching in a 1993
study from the University of Michigan Medical School, Ann
Arbor.
Psoriasis can be a cause of dry scalp. (Read more about
natural remedies for psoriasis.)

3.
A Traditional Mexican Herb to Treat Dandruff and Dry Scalp

The Mexican herb Solanum chrysotrichum may be effective
against dandruff, according to researchers, and can help your
flaky dry scalp. The results of a small 2004 study by Centro de
Investigación Biomédica del Sur, Instituto Mexicano del Seguro
Social, Morelos, México showed Solanum chrysotrichum was
effective in treating dandruff.

4.
Sunlight – Friend or Foe for Dry Scalps?

As with all forms of heat, sunlight dries your skin. But
according to experts, a little sun can actually be beneficial for
your dry scalp.

While no one is suggesting sunbathing as a dry scalp cure, a
little time spent in the sun each day is beneficial. One 1989
study from Karolinska Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden,
demonstrated the symptoms of dandruff improved after
exposure to sunlight.

And according to a 2009 study from the University of Valencia,
Spain, the sunnier the climate the research subjects lived in, the
fewer the cases of atopic dermatitis, which can cause a dry
scalp.

[Update:

In 2013, a College of Medicine University of Toledo in Ohio
confirmed the helpfulness of Vitamin D in treating atopic
dermatitis. They confirmed that patients suffering from atopic
dermatitis who were also deficient in Vitamin D saw their
symptoms improve after their blood levels of Vitamin D were
increased. It is unclear whether the increase in Vitamin D blood
levels were achieved by using Vitamin D supplements or by
increased exposure to sunlight.]


Getting a bit of extra sunlight if you are suffering from dry
scalp can't hurt and it may do you a world of good. Make sure
you wear sunscreen on your scalp if you have thin hair.

5.
Tea Tree Oil is a Dry Scalp Treatment

The natural remedy tea tree oil is used as a shampoo to reduce
dandruff and the discomfort of dry scalp, according to many
experts. A 2002 study from Royal Prince Alfred Hospital,
Camperdown, NSW, Australia tested tea tree oil shampoo on
126 people for four weeks and found the shampoos
significantly reduced the symptoms of dandruff.

Tea tree oil is an antiseptic, antifungal and antibiotic agent,
although some people are allergic to this oil – try a weak
solution first to see if you tolerate it. The strength of the
shampoo in the study was five percent tea tree oil.

6.
Try Oregon Grape to Cure Dry Skin Caused by Plaque
Psoriasis

One of the most common forms of psoriasis is plaque psoriasis,
and according to the American Academy of Dermatology 50
percent of people who suffer plaque psoriasis have it on their
scalp.

If you have plaque psoriasis you may suffer a dry and itchy
scalp that often causes bleeding and soreness. Cream made
from the herb Oregon grape may be effective against plaque
psoriasis, according to a 2006 study by the Dermatology and
Cosmetic Center, Rochester, New York which looked at 200
people.

7.
Phototherapy for Treating Dry Scalp Caused by Dandruff

Dandruff that causes a dry scalp is often a product of the
mallassezia folliculitis fungus, a hardly noticed fungus that lives
in your scalp. Sometimes the fungus gets out of control and
causes the dry white flakes that are characteristic of dandruff.
Photodynamic therapy helps rid the scalp of troublesome
Malassezia folliculitis fungus, according to a 2010 study by
Chung-Ang University College of Medicine, Seoul, South Korea.

8.
How to Treat Babies’ Dry Scalp

Dandruff in babies is called cradle cap, and it can cause
uncomfortably dry skin on your baby’s head. Cradle cap often
clears on its own but according to the University of
Southampton School of Nursing and Midwifery, UK in 2007 you
can use moisturizers and greasier emollients to hydrate the
scalp and remove the loose skin. Try rubbing olive oil, baby oil
or petroleum jelly softly into your baby’s scalp, leave it for 15
minutes then gently brush away the flakes with a soft brush or
cloth. (Read more about
natural remedies for cradle cap.)

9.
Essential Fatty Acids Can Treat a Dry Scalp

If your scalp is dry due to a dandruff problem, try essential
fatty acids. According to a 1993 study from Karolinska
Institutet, Department of Dermatology, Stockholm, borage oil
applied to the scalp successfully treated cradle cap in 37 babies
over four weeks. Omega-3 fatty acids are also found in fish oil,
walnuts and flaxseed.

A 2010 study from the University of Illinois shows that one
omega-6 fatty acid - arachidonic acid – is essential for the
healthy functioning of our skin.

10.
Use Aloe Vera as a Dry Scalp Cure

Aloe definitely has a soothing effect – you can feel its coolness
as soon as you smooth it on your skin. It seems aloe vera may
also be good for ridding your scalp of dryness and dandruff. A
1999 study from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-
Sheva, Israel demonstrates aloe vera’s power as a treatment
for dandruff and cradle cap.

This study tested aloe vera ointment on 44 adults, twice a day
for four to six weeks. Sixty-two percent of those receiving the
aloe treatment reported their symptoms improved.


Comment on this article.



Related:
Eczema Natural Remedies
Psoriasis-Causes and Top 10 Remedies
Dermatitis -Causes and Top 10 Natural Remedies
Itchy Skin in Children -Causes and Cures
Itchy Scalp and Dandruff Remedies
Cradle Cap-Causes and Cures

Head Lice-Top 10 Natural Remedies
Your Blood Sugar Levels Can Cause Acne
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Comments
Several natural herbs can help to relieve
dry itchy scalp.