A dry scalp and subsequent hair loss is a common problem faced by many of us around the world. In some cases, it is the climatic conditions of the place we live in, in others, something we are or are not eating. Sometimes, it is just our hormones. Here, you can find out the causes and remedies for this common condition.
A simple explanation for dry scalp and hair loss is that when the hair is dry, it turns brittle. In such a situation, the hair tends to break or fall more often. Also, a dry scalp causes itchiness. When we scratch our head, it causes the hair to weaken and fall, resulting in severe hair loss. However, the problems of dry scalp and hair loss are highly misunderstood. This is the reason why most of us end up shooting in the dark, and trying out several treatments for our hair, without knowing the root cause of the problem. This in turn leads to other hair-related problems. For instance, if one uses a shampoo to treat dry hair, it may result in hair loss as a reaction to certain ingredients. It is very important to identify one’s hair type and the condition they are dealing with, before plunging into the plethora of so-called ‘off-the-shelf hair treatment solutions’.
Our scalp has sebaceous glands or oil glands, that produce oils required to protect the hair and give it its natural shine. It is when these glands start malfunctioning, i.e. when they are under-producing the necessary amount of oils required, that one’s scalp tends to become dry. This may happen for several reasons…
If you reside in areas where dry weather is prevalent, or during winter periods in any part of the world, the hair tends to lose moisture resulting in a dry scalp.
Eating processed foods more often than fresh foods, or not eating fresh food at all, consuming excess amounts of caffeine, or not drinking enough water, are important factors that are likely to cause dry scalp. Sometimes, it may be a lack of certain vitamins and minerals required for the sebaceous glands to function well, that cause the problem of dry scalp and hair loss.
Harsh shampoos and conditioners destroy moisture from the hair. They also lead to heavy hair loss, again due to the harshness of ingredients in the products. Many people assume that by washing their hair frequently, they will be able to absolve their hair from dryness problems. This is a major misconception because frequent washing strips the scalp of its natural oils and results in dryness.
Exposure to Excessive Heat
Washing the hair with very hot water, or blow drying the hair on a regular basis, strips the hair of its natural moisture, thereby making the scalp dry and causing hair loss. Even using a hair straightener or a hair curler will have the same effect as that of blow drying.
Dry scalp is also caused by hard water, or water that has not been thoroughly filtered, and contains elements like calcium and magnesium. These elements collect on the scalp over time and hamper the production pattern of the sebaceous glands.
Smoking and Alcohol Consumption
The effects of cigarettes and alcohol are known to everyone. In the process of damaging the rest of the body, these also affect the hair and its natural shine. As a result, one faces the problem of dry scalp and hair loss.
Dry Scalp and Hair Loss in Women
As a crowning glory for women, hair is a very important issue to us. We ensure that we take care of our hair, never let it lose its lustrous shine, and do all that we can to maintain it as the most important element adding to our beauty. However, sometimes, no matter what we do, we cannot control the conditions that affect our hair. Therefore, a separate category has been dedicated to the problem of dry scalp and hair loss in women. In addition to the above-mentioned causes, there are several other reasons that cause this condition in women.
Women experience several hormonal changes during pregnancy. These hormonal changes have an effect on our behavior and other internal body functions. This can therefore be considered as one of the reasons for the problem of a dry scalp and subsequent hair loss. The good news is that this condition is temporary, and will hopefully be gone post pregnancy.
Another cause is the regular consumption of oral contraceptives. Apart from the effect they have on other bodily functions, certain drugs or ingredients in these drugs may destroy normal hair growth patterns, and cause a severe problem of dry scalp.
One of the major causes of this problem is menopause and the hormonal changes associated with it. Unfortunately, nothing can be done to combat menopause. Even then, the degree of dryness and subsequent hair loss can be controlled with timely prevention and treatment.
Apart from controlling the intake of oral contraceptives, there is nothing that can really be done to prevent dry scalp and hair loss from the changes that occur with pregnancy, or the onslaught of menopause. However, as mentioned before, these are temporary conditions and will pass on soon.
We tend to assume that this is a problem faced only by adults due to the nature of the above mentioned causes. However, with the exception of a few, these conditions also affect children. For instance, even children can tend to be exposed to severe heat, or can shampoo their hair frequently. Moreover, lack of essential nutrients in the body can cause this problem. As such, some of the aforementioned causes should not be overlooked even when kids are affected by this condition.
Itchy Dry Scalp and Hair Loss
Dry skin normally tends to become itchy. Similar is the case with a dry scalp that tends to become itchy if not taken care of at the right time. Furthermore, it can develop into a full-fledged skin disorder. Prevention and treatment is therefore necessary at the right time. Following are the conditions that cause a dry scalp to itch and result in hair loss.
Often considered a symptom of an oily scalp, dandruff also occurs in case of a dry scalp. In the process of skin renewal, dead skin cells are pushed to the top of the skin. When these dead skin cells begin to collect, they manifest into dandruff, which looks like snowy white flakes and shed upon brushing the hair or otherwise. If not treated at early stages, dandruff occurs in large patches all over the scalp. There are several remedies for dandruff, but dandruff is a recurring problem. Even a little bit of stress can cause it. As a result, the treatment for dandruff has to be a continuous one. It is also important to remember that an itchy or dry flaky scalp is not always a result of dandruff. Skin tends to flake when dry. Therefore, when opting for a treatment for dandruff, do ensure that you have diagnosed your scalp condition correctly. If you go in for a dandruff treatment, when you have just a flaky scalp, the problem might worsen.
Folliculitis is an infection of the scalp caused by harsh chemicals found in shampoos, as they tend to damage the hair follicles. Folliculitis manifests itself in the form of clusters of small white boils around the hair follicles. Sometimes, these can become more severe in the form of large and painful red boils all over the scalp. This infection must be treated in time, else it may result in severe injury to the hair follicles, causing bald patches over the scalp. This condition is known as cicatricial alopecia. Folliculitis responds to antibiotics, but sometimes also becomes resistant to them. Some natural remedies to treat this infection are the use of tea tree oil and lavender oil, which not only combat the problem, mostly in the early stages, but also stimulate hair growth.
Ringworm – Tinea Capitis
Ringworm is a fungal skin infection, which, it occurs on the scalp, can cause bald patches all over the scalp. Starting out as a small pimple on the scalp, it progressively expands in size and destroys the hair fibers, thus making the hair brittle and causing hair loss. The affected area is usually itchy and inflamed patches cause blisters that ooze. Thus, hair loss occurs in patches of the scalp. Ringworm is a contagious skin disorder, so it is essential to use clean combs and abstain from using combs and hair brushes used by others. Antibiotics may be used to treat ringworm, depending on their severity. However, treatment for ringworm should be administered only after consultation with a dermatologist.
Simple Home Remedies
Simple remedies for an itchy dry scalp include,
- Ensuring that the shampoo and conditioner are thoroughly washed off after a hair wash.
- Allowing the hair to dry naturally after washing, i.e., avoiding the use of hair dryers/straighteners/curlers.
- Using a clean hair brush or comb to brush the hair.
- Massaging the scalp regularly with some natural oils like tea tree oil, olive oil or coconut oil, which stimulate the production of oil glands.
Hair loss caused by a dry and itchy scalp is not solely a man’s, woman’s or child’s problem. It can affect anyone due to reasons that may even go beyond the ones mentioned above. After getting an insight into the various causes of dry scalp and hair loss, it is important that one implements the various preventive techniques to combat the condition, rather than ignoring it and allowing it to develop into a more severe condition. It is always better to maintain your crowning glory, instead of allowing it to deteriorate, and then bringing it back to its original state. Also, once such conditions affect your scalp and hair, it is very difficult to restore the original beauty of the hair. Thus, this article should be a strong motivating factor to make you want to take as good care of your hair as possible.
Disclaimer: This HairGlamourista article is for informative purposes only and does not, in any way, intend to replace the advice of an expert.