People with itchy scalp usually think scratching their heads will sooner or later get rid of the white flakes. But doing that will only aggravate things; for one, your scalp will keep producing skin and yes, that’s what you’re scratching away. And as a result of your continuous scratching, your scalp gets thinner and thinner and eventually you cut your scalp, it swells and lymph or blood comes out. You definitely don’t want that to happen.
Scalp flaking is actually normal if it occurs mildly. A few flakes shed everyday is acceptable because it is after all, dead skin. However, if paired with signs of inflammation and severe itching, this flaking could actually be dandruff. Dandruff is a dermatologic condition where there is excess sebum production together with a fungal infection (Malassezia sp.). It is also called seborrheic dermatitis and occurs on the scalp, behind the ears, eyebrows and on the chest.
- Flaking or scales
- Excess oiliness in the area
- Hair loss
The causes of dandruff are many and non-specific. It may be genetic or otherwise. It can be initiated by stress, severe weather conditions like extreme heat in the summer, naturally oily skin, and poor hygiene among others.
The secret to avoiding dandruff is to avoid the things that trigger it. Here are some ways you can do this:
- Do not expose yourself for too long under the sun
- Protect your skin from the harsh weather by using umbrellas or other sun-protective products
- Wash your hair as often as possible (especially for oily skin types)
- Do not scratch your scalp or other areas unnecessarily
- Do not stress yourself. Hormones mess up your oil production.
In case you already have dandruff, here are the ways you can manage this problem:
- Anti-dandruff shampoos: these shampoos are easily available and they contain ketoconazole which is an anti-fungal.
- Anti-dandruff creams or lotions: these are used for areas other than scalp.
- Topical corticosteroids: this will take care of the inflammation. Within a few days, there will be a noticeable reduction of the redness.
- If you definitely need to take care of an itch, do not use your fingernails. Instead, lightly rub the area with your finger pads to alleviate the itch.
- However, if there are already wounds present, avoid touching these at all cost.
The hair loss associated with the dandruff is caused by direct damage to the hair follicles through inflammation; hair loss will gradually stop once the latter has been taken care of. Fortunately, ketoconazole in anti-dandruff shampoos not only kills fungal growth but also reduces testosterone. By reducing testosterone, DHT or dihydrotestosterone which is responsible for baldness will also be reduced. However, in cases of severe (patchy or ring-like) hair loss, seek a dermatologist at once. It could be something worse like tinea capitis and psoriasis.
So next time you feel a scalp itch coming, think twice before giving in. Simply follow the tips above and enjoy a dandruff free time 🙂