Your scalp is part of the body's biggest organ: the skin. Some people with food allergies, including dairy allergy, report an itchy scalp and other skin irritations, ranging from rashes to eczema. Eczema is a chronic disorder that features long-term inflammation of the skin. People with allergies or asthma often experience eczema, and allergies can, in fact, make eczema worse. If you are allergic to dairy and have dry scalp, you will probably experience skin problems in other areas, as well.
Dry scalp will not be the only negative symptom if you have a dairy allergy. The most common allergic reactions to dairy protein are gastrointestinal. Diarrhea, bloating, intestinal cramps and irritable bowel symptoms are almost universal to people with dairy allergies. Other symptoms include runny nose, itchy eyes, allergic "shiners" and asthmatic or chronic cough. People allergic to dairy also report rashes and itchy skin all over the body, not just the scalp.
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If your dairy allergy causes you to experience eczema, you can take an antihistamine to relieve the serious itching associated with eczema. Health-care providers also recommend topical cortisone creams to reduce itching, swelling and redness. Antihistamines and cortisone creams relieve the symptoms, not the underlying allergic reaction that causes skin dryness, redness and itching.
Shampoo that is too harsh can cause dry scalp, so before you suspect dairy or any other type of food allergy, be sure to use a mild, non-drying shampoo and soap. The Mayo Clinic staff advises that shampoos with added moisturizers can relieve dry scalp. Use warm water when showering or bathing, not hot water, to help retain natural moisture and relieve dryness.
A number of healthy foods that don't contain dairy are good for the scalp, hair and skin. Eat foods high in antioxidants like dark, leafy green vegetables, blueberries, pomegranates and cherries to heal your scalp. Add healthy oil like olive oil, macadamia nut oil or almond oil to your diet to restore natural scalp oil balance. Drink at least six glasses of water a day to hydrate skin and improve scalp dryness.
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.