A dry scalp may be a result of using very drying shampoos that strip the hair of its protective oils. Each hair strand is made up of several layers of keratin, or proteins. The scalp also produces sebum, or a layer of oil, similar to what is produced by the skin in other areas of the body. Overshampooing or using a shampoos that strips away the protective oils may result in an itchy, dry scalp that may also become flaky. Using a moisturizing shampoo and appropriate hair conditioner each time you wash your hair may reduce dry scalp.
Dry scalp is often itchy and may also result in flaking. When dead skin is being sloughed off the scalp, it can create a dry scalp or dandruff. This skin condition is known as seborrheic dermatitis.
A moisturizing shampoo containing essential oils such as lavender oil and jojoba oil (a plant wax) may be helpful. Using shampoos with tea tree oil may also help remove the dry skin cells and heal the itchiness and dry scalp.
Overuse of very hot hair blowdryers, curling irons and commercial hair products that contain drying alcohol all can contribute to dry scalp. Exposure to heat, wind and sun can also create a dry scalp. Regularly cleansing the hair with a moisturizing shampoo and using a gentle hair conditioner with chamomile flowers or lavender essential oil may help reduce dry scalp. Wearing a hat or scarf in the wind and sun may also help protect the hair and scalp from overdrying.
Certain food allergies may contribute to dry or flakey scalp. Some individuals allergic or intolerant of dairy products may experience dry scalp after consuming cow's milk and other dairy products. Certain health conditions also may produce dry, itchy scalp. Hypothyroidism and adrenal exhaustion, both hormonal disorders, have symptoms of dry scalp and hair loss.
Use a natural boar bristle brush (made from the bristle of a boar, not plastic bristles) to gently brush your hair before shampooing. Use only gentle, moisturizing shampoos such as a baby shampoo or mild, unscented formula. Use apple cider vinegar (1 tablespoon to 1 quart water) as a rinse before applying a moisturizing hair conditioner. Rinse and allow to dry naturally or only under low heat with a hair blow dryer. Once a week after shampooing hair, apply two to three tablespoons of olive oil to the hair and cover with a plastic bag for at least 20 minutes. Rinse and condition. Olive oil has moisturizing properties.
If you have hair loss accompanying your dry scalp, see your doctor. Several serious health conditions include symptoms of dry, itchy scalp and hair loss, such as adrenal exhaustion and hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid). These are serious health issues that should be carefully assessed and treated by a doctor.