How to Treat and Prevent Dandruff and Dry Scalp

How to Get Rid of Dandruff & Dry Scalp

Many people do not realize that dry scalp and dandruff are not the same thing. They are, in fact, two entirely different conditions caused by different factors. Some people can have both conditions at once, and others may only experience one. Either way, both dandruff and dry scalp can be bothersome and embarrassing. There are a few things a person can do to prevent, treat, and control dandruff and dry scalp.

What causes Dandruff?

The first step to tackling these conditions is to gain a better understanding of what they are and what causes them. Dandruff is a condition of the scalp that can be treated and managed but never cured. Experts do not agree on what the exact cause of dandruff is, but most believe a combination of an oily scalp and a fungus or yeast cause the skin to flake off. It is also believed that irritants like stress, hormones, diet, and weather can aggravate the condition.

The scalp naturally sheds more skin than any other part of the body. These flakes of skin combine with the natural oils from the hair and get trapped on the hair shaft or flake off onto clothing. It also causes the scalp to itch. When a person scratches their itchy scalp, more flakes are scratched loose which compounds the embarrassing symptoms of white flakes in the hair and on clothing.

What causes Dry Scalp?

Dry scalp is essentially just overly dry skin on the scalp. It also causes itching and flaking, but for an entirely different reason than dandruff. A major lack of moisture and the natural oils your hair secretes are the main culprits behind having a dry scalp. A person who has dandruff does not necessarily have a dry scalp.

How to tell if you have Dandruff or Dry Scalp (or both)

Treating these conditions can be complex depending on if you have one or both of them. In order to determine which condition you have, wash your hair in a perfume-free clarifying shampoo. Do not use styling products. In 24 hours, if your hair is oily you likely have dandruff. If your hair is dry, course, or frizzy and you are experiencing an itchy scalp accompanied by flaking, then you have a dry scalp.

How to Treat Dry Scalp

Tackling a dry scalp is as simple as using a humectant shampoo that does not contain setyl alcohol. Alcohols, dyes, and perfumes will only intensify the dryness by sapping out the naturally occurring oils in the hair. Follow with a rich and creamy conditioner that is specifically designed for dry, frizzy hair. Water temperature is important as well. Avoid using hot water on dry hair. Opt for lukewarm instead.

How to Control Dandruff

Controlling a dandruff condition entails washing the hair more often. Using a specially formulated shampoo that contains pyrithione zinc every day has been proven to be effective on dandruff. Avoiding triggers like stress, extreme diet changes, and humidity will also help decrease the number of dandruff outbreaks a person has.

Good ways to de-stress after an especially harried day include indulging in a small portion of a dark chocolate treat. The antioxidants found in dark chocolate are good for you, and of course the flavor of chocolate can make just about anyone feel better. Deep breathing and meditation work well for some people as does visualization. When feeling overly-stressed, try picturing yourself on a quiet beach. In your vision, imagine long, gorgeous hair that is flake free!

It’s also important to wash the hair correctly. Many people do not realize that washing the hair first thing after stepping the shower isn’t the best idea. In order to achieve a rich lather that will properly wash the oils from hair, stand under the shower head for at least two minutes. This will ensure that the hair is soaked, not just wet.

Next, apply the correct amount of shampoo. Using too much is wasteful and not necessary. Most people tend to use too much shampoo because their hair was not wet enough to start with. For those treating dry scalp, massage a dime-sized amount into the scalp. Do not lather up the rest of your hair. When you rinse, the soap will pass over the rest of your hair. This will effectively yet gently wash grime or residue without causing it to be over dry.

When washing hair that is oily and causing dandruff, still soak the hair for two minutes and massage the shampoo into the scalp. The only difference would be to lather up the rest of the hair as well as it is already overly oily and needs a good wash. Be sure to rinse well. If you have long hair and require conditioner, rinse it completely to avoid build-up.

Those with dry scalp do best to avoid blow dryers. Towel dry your hair to 40% dry and let it air-dry the rest of the way. Do not use irritating products like hair gels and sprays that contain alcohol.

People with dandruff should also avoid using too many hair products. These can compound the condition and cause even more flaking. Hair spray is especially bad on dandruff as it causes it to stick even more. The flakes will be much more apparent and can cause more undue embarrassment.

Despite the best efforts, some people will always have flare ups of flaky scalp. A quick fix of wearing a ball cap or scarf can cover up the hair nicely. Avoid wearing dark colors to help camouflage those runaway flakes.

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