Dry scalp is a common problem for men. Numerous factors can cause this annoying but harmless condition, and most of its symptoms are easily treatable. In some cases, however, a dry scalp can indicate a dermatological problem that requires medical attention or professional treatment. If home treatments fail, consult your dermatologist.
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What is Dry Scalp?
Like the skin on all other areas of your body, the skin of your scalp sheds dead cells every 28 days to permit the emergence of new skin cells. When the scalp does not receive enough moisture, this exfoliation process is interrupted and dead cells accumulate on the scalp, turning into flakes. These cells and flakes can block the emission of sebum, an oil secreted through the pores, which can cause further dryness.
Dry scalp is often caused by dehydration, excessive shampooing, intense heat from a hairdryer or the harsh chemicals found in many hair products. Environmental factors can also play a role: men living in dry climates may find themselves affected by dry scalp, as can persons who spend many hours in air-conditioned or heated environments. The website “4-Men” notes that the lack of humidity in airplanes can also cause dry scalp.
Dry scalp is characterized by a red, flaking scalp that may, or may not, itch. The condition is often mistakenly identified as seborrheic dermatitis, more commonly known as dandruff. Unlike dry scalp flakes, which are dry and very fine, dandruff flakes are larger and usually oily or greasy.
According to the website “Surviving Hair Loss,” regular hot oil treatments can help relieve the symptoms of dry scalp. You can make a hot oil remedy by heating three tablespoons of olive, castor, coconut or primrose oil in a pan until warmed through. Using your fingertips, massage the warm oil into your scalp and hair, until your scalp is well saturated. Wrap a towel around your hair and let the oil permeate your scalp for a half hour. Then thoroughly the rinse the oil out with lukewarm water.
The best way to prevent dry scalp is to avoid the conditions that cause it. Only wash your hair when necessary, as water dries out the scalp, and use mild shampoos that contain moisturizers. Avoid hair care products that contain ingredients such as phthalates, sodium lauryl sulfate and betaine, chemicals that can exacerbate dryness. When possible, reduce indoor heating or air conditioning to its lowest levels so that the air can retain some humidity.