How to Get Rid of a Dry, Flaky Scalp

A dry, flaky scalp can be the result of a number of conditions. Psoriasis, eczema, poor nutrition, dehydration and too much shampoo are just a few of factors that contribute to poor scalp health. By making some simple changes, or adding an at-home remedy or two, you can take your scalp from parched and irritated to smooth and soft with a headful of healthy hair.

A bowl of raw sugar and a bottle of olive oil on a bamboo mat. (Image: joanna wnuk/iStock/Getty Images)

Getting Rid of Dry Scalp

Step 1

Use less shampoo. If you use too much shampoo, you increase the chances that residue will be left behind. Richard Stein, hairstylist and author of "Set Free: The Book About Hair" states that failure to thoroughly rinse any product out of the hair causes scalp irritation and flakiness.

Step 2

Exfoliate your scalp. Getting rid of dry, dead skin cells is just as good for your dry scalp as it is for your face. Mix a tablespoon or two of sugar with your shampoo and gently work it into your scalp with the pads of your fingers. Avoid using your fingernails when lathering up, which can cause nicks or cuts.

Step 3

Avoid extremely hot water. Hot water can dry out the skin and aggravate a dry, flaky scalp. The same is true for heat styling products such as a blow-dryer. Excessive heat can cause the scalp to become irritated and dry.

Step 4

Give yourself a scalp massage. A scalp massage causes blood to flow to the scalp, and helps clear any blocked pores that may be interfering with sebum production. Sebum is the oil produced in the sebaceous glands of the scalp. Massaging the scalp also loosens excess dead skin and dandruff, making it easier to wash away. Give yourself a scalp massage before or during your shampoo, or even when you're relaxing in front of the TV. Putting olive oil on your fingertips before the massage gives your scalp added benefits. After the massage, continue with an olive oil treatment.

Step 5

Apply an olive oil treatment to the scalp. Dip your fingers into olive oil. Apply the oil to your scalp, using gentle circular motions. Cover the entire scalp, but not the length of the hair. Once the scalp is covered with oil, cover the head with plastic wrap or a shower cap. Cover the plastic wrap with a warm towel, and leave on for 45 minutes. Rinse well with lukewarm water, then shampoo as usual. If you condition your hair after the shampoo, do not apply conditioner to the scalp. Instead, apply conditioner starting 1 inch from the scalp and down to the ends.

Things You'll Need

  • Sugar

  • Olive oil

  • Bowl

  • Plastic wrap or plastic shower cap

  • Towel

  • Shampoo

Tip

Coconut oil can be substituted for olive oil.

Warning

If your dry, flaky scalp persists and is accompanied by tenderness or redness, see your doctor for proper diagnosis. Through testing, she can figure out the cause and help you decide on treatment.

If you have seborrheic dermatitis, these tips will not work for you. While symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis include flaky scalp, it is a result of excess oil and not dryness.

REFERENCES & RESOURCES
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