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African-Americans very often suffer from severely dry scalps. Even after trying conditioner after conditioner for dry hair, the problem can persist. This uncomfortable condition can be more than an annoyance. If left untreated, it can lead to infections or bacterial and fungal growth, causing pain and hair loss. This article discusses the causes of severe dry scalp and possible treatments.

How Dry Scalp Develops

Chatto, the well-known African-American hair stylist from Chicago, tells visitors to her website that women of color typically have less moisture in their hair than other women do. This makes the hair more susceptible to breaking. In addition, most black women are genetically prone dry scalp issues. This is magnified by the fact that many African-Americans treat their hair with chemical products such as colors, bleaches and relaxers. Prolonged or incorrect use of these products can worsen dry scalp.

NaturallyCurly.com tells readers that alcohol in hair care products can both help and hinder dryness issues. Certain kinds of alcohol can dry the hair and scalp; but other alcohols, including cetyl alcohol, can treat and improve dryness. "Fatty alcohols," such as benzyl alcohol or propylene glycol, can also be beneficial. Hairbraider recommends reading labels and trying different products to determine which ones work best for you.


Hair-n-skin-care.com reports that natural butter treatments often improve dry scalp conditions. Hemp seed butter, avocado butter and shea butter are examples of these products, and they can be used individually or together. These products absorb more easily into the scalp and hair follicles. American Spa magazine reports that some professional spas, such as Thermae Day Spa in Menlo Park, California, massage butter products into clients' scalps.

While you may miss the cosmetic effects of coloring and relaxing products, consider giving up these treatments in favor of a healthier scalp, according to FreeBeautyTips.org. Also, don't use appliances like flat irons or hair dryers. In addition, you may find it helpful to shampoo less often, as shampoo washes away your hair's natural oils. Washing once or twice a week should be adequate.

When To Consult a Doctor

Sometimes medical conditions can be the cause of severely dry scalp. Conditions like eczema, psoriasis or dermatitis can result in painful and itchy skin on the head. If this is the case, see your family doctor, who may prescribe treatments or recommend that you visit a dermatologist.