Skin Health
Dry Hair? Dry Scalp?
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“What do I do for dry hair or scalp?”

Dry hair and dry scalp are different conditions.Dry scalp is usually the result of chronic contact dermatitis or a reaction to common allergens in hair care or styling products such as “amidoamine” surfactants (cocamidopropyl betaine, cocamide-dea), dyes, fragrances or preservatives. Dry scalp can also be caused by the overgrowth of a resident fungus within hair follicles called pityrosporum which may thrive after one has taken oral antibiotics, or after using anti-bacterial shampoos and hair products.Treating dry scalp can be as simple as avoiding products with allergens and applying lotions with non-irritating anti-fungals such as monolaurin into the scalp. Grandma Minnie’s Oil’s Well is a good option because it is a pure virgin coconut oil with monolaurin. Virgin coconut oil is excellent for hair — there is a reason it is an ingredient in so many intensive hair conditioners — and monolaurin is an excellent, non-allergenic, coconut-derived antifungal.

In case your dry scalp does not improve with strict allergen-avoidance and the other steps above, you might have another skin condition such as seborrheic dermatitis and/or psoriasis — both usually highly manageable conditions with the proper diagnosis and care, which normally includes allergen avoidance plus managing stress, your diet and nutrition, as well as some specific medicines. Consult a dermatologist — ideally one who specializes in contact dermatoses as well as seborrheic dermatitis and psoriasis — and ask your doctor about getting a patch test. Often, simply knowing exactly what you need to avoid can result in dramatic changes.

Dry hair is generally a result of physical injury to the hair shaft. Some common culprits: harsh shampoos such as some anti-dandruff shampoos; frequent hair color stripping and/or dyeing; or regular hair curling, heating or straightening treatments.

Very gentle care is required to reduce the stress on stretched hair shafts or broken cuticles. Before shampooing, try applying plain petroleum jelly or The Big, Brave Boo-Boo Balm to keep harsh ingredients or detergents from getting into breaks in the hair shaft. As with dry scalp, opt for a very gentle shampoo such as Essence Clark Wash that is free of ingredients that can potentially break down hair such as dyes, fragrance, and preservatives. Use a very rich but non-irritating conditioner, and virgin coconut oil for repair.

To find a physician in your area who does patch tests, visit contactderm.org.