If you have red, scaly patches on your scalp, it’s likely psoriasis, an autoimmune disease that can be treated with
prescription topical cortisone and tar, or salicylic acid–based shampoos.
Get It unDer control
A flaky scalp is not caused by dry skin. In fact, everyone’s scalp harbours the yeast that causes dandruff. In some people, this yeast, known as Malassezia,
creates a byproduct that triggers the scalp to overproduce skin cells, leading to itchiness and flakes. If the itchiness is severe, the flakes are thick and yellow, and your scalp is red, you could be suffering from dandruff’s more severe cousin, seborrheic dermatitis, says Toronto dermatologist Sonya Cook. Unfortunately, there’s no cure for either this or regular dandruff, but you can manage these conditions by lathering up on a regular basis with antifungal products that include ingredients such as pyrithione zinc (found in Head & Shoulders), selenium sulphide (in Selsun Blue) or ketoconazole (in Nizoral).
apply sun protectIon – all over
Your scalp can get sunburned just as easily as the rest of your body, and it’s just as susceptible to skin cancer, says Dr. Charlene Linzon, a dermatologist in Toronto. You can apply a spray sunscreen to your part (or any visible skin on your scalp). If your hair is thinning, Linzon advises wearing a tightly woven wide-brimmed hat for the best protection.
Think of your scalp
as a flowerbed. Just as you
need healthy soil to nurture plants, you require a healthy
beware of overDoInG It
scalp to grow beautiful hair. If you’re having a bad hair
If you’re blow-drying on a hot setting too close to your
day (or a bad hair month), ask yourself: Is your beauty
scalp, you can bubble the water in the hair shaft and
routine to blame, or does your scalp need help?
cause temporary damage to the hair follicles, says Linzon. Also, don’t fall prey to the old wives’ tale about brushing
Don’t shun shampoo
your hair 100 times before bed. Overbrushing does more
Sorry, ladies. Despite all the hearsay to the contrary,
harm than good, causing breakage and split ends.
doctors insist that washing hair less often won’t train your scalp to produce less oil over time. In fact, it can
look at your overall health
exacerbate skin conditions such as dandruff. “The factory
Hair loss or thinning can happen for many reasons, but it’s
in your scalp that produces oil is in a gland deep in the
often an indicator of underlying health issues. Genetics,
scalp, and that oil gland couldn’t care less about how
autoimmune diseases, stress on the body (such as a
often you rinse a little water on the surface,” says Dr. Jeff
restrictive diet or extreme weight loss) and having a baby
Donovan, a Toronto dermatologist. To counteract dry hair
can all result in shedding hair, says Linzon. Head to your
caused by washing, always massage shampoo into your
doctor to check your iron, thyroid and hormone levels.
roots and conditioner into the strands.
IDentIfy the problem
While dandruff might be the most common scalp irritant,
eczema and psoriasis could also be the cause of flakes and
irritation. If there are dry, itchy skin rashes on other areas of your body, you probably have atopic dermatitis, a type
of eczema. Treat this with anti-inflammatory shampoos
that contain tea tree oil and tar, recommends Donovan.
june 2013 | inspiring ideas for everyday living
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