Some skin on our body is easy to forget – like our scalp! Yet just like every other inch of skin, the scalp needs tender loving care too, and can also be a flare-up spot for skin conditions.
The Scalp – a Unique Skin Landscape
Yes, your scalp is the same type of skin you’ll find on the rest of your body, but its “ecosystem” has slightly different conditions. First, with so many hair follicles, oils have a chance to build up easier. Add that built up oil to scalp perspiration and residues from shampoos, conditioners, gels and other hair products, and you have a great breeding ground for bacteria. This is why it’s important to regularly cleanse the hair and scalp, to get rid of oils and bacteria that could cause problems.
Skin Conditions and the Scalp
The scalp can also be an area where you’ll find acne, TSW, eczema, and psoriasis. You can use the same treatments you use on your skin here, but treating and solving the problem systemically with herbal medicine will save you a lot of aggravation. If you suffer from an overabundance of oil and sebum, the problem can be made even worse by a buildup of hair products. You may want to try some of the natural ways listed below to get rid of oil and product buildup.
If you suffer from dry skin or conditions that deprive your skin of moisture, you might try one of the natural means for adding moisture to your scalp. The bonus is they will make your hair shine!
|Naturally Remove Oil and Product Buildup||Natural Moisture for Scalp and Hair|
|Mix 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar with 1/4 cup of water and leave on your hair for 15 minutes, then rinse. Or…||Rub a tablespoon of olive oil into your hair and scalp, then cover with a shower cap. Leave on overnight while you sleep. Shampoo in the morning. Or…|
|Rub 2 teaspoons of lemon juice into your scalp. Let it sit for a couple minutes, then rinse. Follow that by mixing another teaspoon of lemon juice mixed with 1 cup water and pouring it over your scalp.||Rub 3-5 teaspoons of coconut oil into your scalp. Let it sit for an hour, then shampoo.|
Watch Hair-Care Ingredients
You may watch your skin-care and cosmetic product labels like a hawk for ingredients that trigger skin flare-ups or allergic reactions. But are you applying that same vigilance to your haircare products?
Shampoos and conditioners often have the same troublesome colors, fragrances, petroleum products, surfactants, and chemicals that soaps and skin products have. These additives contact the skin all over your body as you shower, which is risky enough. But the added problem is that shampoos and conditioners can leave residues on your scalp that can irritate and trigger eczema, TSW, psoriasis and contact dermatitis.
The answer is to read hair care product labels as carefully as you would your skin care items, and choose natural brands.
Sun-Protection for Your Scalp
Your scalp is very vulnerable to the sun, as it is often exposed for long periods of time, especially if you wear a part in your hair, have thin hair, have bald spots or shave your head. The best solution is wearing a hat or scarf and staying in the shade. For large bald or shaved patches of scalp, or along your part, go ahead and apply a safe sunscreen to the area, just as you would your face.
A Word on Dandruff
Flaky dandruff can happen when your scalp is irritated from a skin flare-up, sun damage, excessive dryness, or a yeast infection on your scalp. It may also be a sign that your skin is suffering from contact dermatitis – possibly cause by the hair care products you are using. There is even a link between dandruff and stress!
There are many medicated dandruff shampoos out there to try, but many contain harsh chemicals and coal tars that can even alter the color of your hair. Be careful when choosing one and once your problem is under control, switch back to normal shampoo. If you can’t tolerate dandruff shampoo, or if it isn’t solving your dandruff problem, have a talk with your holistic dermatologist.
Take Care of Your Skin from Head to Toe
Your scalp, like the rest of your skin, is part of your “home” you live in each day. We hope these tips help you comfortably maintain the natural balance and beauty of every inch of you!
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About the Author
Olivia Hsu Friedman, LAc, Dipl.OM, DACM, Cert. TCMDerm, is the owner of Amethyst Holistic Skin Solutions and treats Acne, Eczema, Psoriasis, and TSW. Olivia treats patients via video conferencing using only herbal medicine. Olivia is Chair of the Board of Directors of the American Society of Acupuncturists, serves on the Advisory Board of LearnSkin, and is a faculty member of the Chicago Integrative Eczema Group sponsored by the National Eczema Association.