Whether it’s caused by cold, dry weather or a condition such as seborrheic dermatitis, choosing the right shampoo helps reduce and eliminate flakes while soothing the itch and encouraging your scalp to heal. Try all-natural shampoos with essential oils to stimulate and condition your scalp. Other options include making your own shampoos or upgrading to medicated shampoos to treat stubborn scalp conditions.
Cleanse With Essential Oils
Look for shampoos that contain essential oils with antiseptic properties, which help break up flakes and kill the bacteria and fungi that cause flaking and itching. Tea-tree oil helps clear blocked hair follicles, soothe the itch and restore scalp health. Eucalyptus, patchouli, lavender, juniper, clary sage, rosemary, cedarwood and cypress are also well-suited for problem scalps. Make your own concoction by adding 10 to 20 drops of an essential oil -- or combination of oils -- to your favorite shampoo. Massage the mixture into your scalp and let it sit for 1 to 2 minutes before rinsing and repeating.
Moisturize With Essential Fatty Acids
Moisture-infusing essential fatty acids are readily absorbed by your scalp and help prevent the growth of bacteria. Some of the plant-based oils that are traditionally used as base oils or carriers for essential oils can be used on their own to soothe a dry scalp. Look for shampoos that contain borage, evening primrose or rosehip-seed oil -- all of which are rich in essential fatty acids that fight inflammation, moisturize the dryness and minimize itch. Alternatively, give yourself a pre-shampoo treatment by massaging oil directly onto your scalp. Leave it in for at least six 6 hours before shampooing your hair.
Heal Your Troubled Scalp
Shampooing with an aloe-infused shampoo or applying aloe gel directly to your scalp is an effective method to relieve the itching and stimulate your scalp's healing power. Aloe kills fungi and bacteria; it also has enzymes to remove dead skin cells and amino acids to promote healthy tissue growth. Another helpful product is apple-cider vinegar, which contains malic acid and enzymes that kill germs that cause flakes and dryness. It also soothes the itch and restores balance to your scalp, allowing it to produce the right amount of natural oils to keep your scalp healthy and itch-free. Use apple-cider vinegar before shampooing by applying it directly on your scalp or combine it with filtered water and essential oils to make a stimulating, anti-flake hair rinse.
Use Medicated Shampoos
If you've tried natural remedies without any relief, you may need to switch to a medicated shampoo to treat the underlying cause of the itching and flaking. Look for over-the-counter formulas that have anti-fungal ingredients such as ketoconazole or those that contain pyrithione zinc, an ingredient that helps control itch-inducing yeast. If you try over-the-counter formulas without success, schedule an appointment with a doctor to get a definitive diagnosis. You may need a stronger, prescription shampoo to treat the problem.
- Feed Your Face; Jessica Wu, MD
- The Natural Soap Book; Susan Miller Cavitch
- The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy; Valerie Ann Worwood
- Skin Saver Remedies; Juta Stepanovs
- Australian Tea Tree Oil First Aid Handbook; Cynthia B. Olsen
- Aromatherapy Handbook for Beauty, Hair, and Skin Care; Erich Keller
- Aloe Vera: The New Millennium; Bill C. Coats
- Apple Cider Vinegar Miracle Health System; Paul C. Bragg, Patricia Bragg
- Essential Aromatherapy; Susan E. Worwood, Valerie Ann Worwood