Have you noticed your scalp becoming increasingly sensitive? Maybe some tenderness while brushing. Itchiness coming out of seemingly nowhere? Dandruff and skin flaking embarrassing you daily? Well, you’re not alone. Just like our faces, the skin on our scalps needs more specialized care as we age, but maybe more so. Our scalps age almost six times faster than the skin on our faces, and with that comes its own set of complications.
The most common cause of dryness is loss of natural oils. As our scalps age, the skin cells begin to regenerate more slowly, and the sebum produced is reduced as a result. Amplified by our everchanging hormones and fluctuating estrogen levels, the skin on your head can seem like a baron waste land devoid of any indication of life. Not to be dramatic, of course. Shampoos and hair products with sulfates can also add to the issue. Luckily there are ways to combat this.
First off, check your hair care. If you notice sulfates, parabens, phthalates or sodium chloride in anything, toss it. Harsh chemicals such as these can cause undue damage to the skin and lead to redness and irritation. Instead, look for products with natural ingredients and essential or plant-derived oils. Adding a fortifying serum, like this one from Better Not Younger, to your routine may help to restore lost nutrients and protect the hair shafts. Not only does it contain super soothing and nourishing ingredients like kelp extract and ginger, but it also delivers a small amount of caffeine to aide in follicle stimulation, which helps increase blood flow and support new growth. You can either massage it into your scalp with your fingers or use an applicator to really boost the stimulation.
Itchiness is one of the most common symptoms of scalp sensitivity, and can be a side-effect of the aforementioned affliction, or may be due to other factors entirely. Buildup is a prominent culprit of the itch. Keep an eye on your scalp to see if you are experiencing buildup, then try to determine if it’s flaking skin, product and free radicals or a combination of the two.
The first step to take when battling an itchy scalp is to resist scratching. Easier said than done, I know, but it truly will only make the problem worse by causing further damage to the scalp.
Now, if it is dryness causing the itch, be sure to steer clear of moisture-stripping shampoos, and Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS), which can break down the skins protective barrier, and lead to even greater loss of moisture in the skin. If the flaking becomes severe, you may be looking at a case of dandruff, which can lead to a vicious cycle of scratching, breaking down the skin barrier, flaking skin, and more itchiness, followed by more scratching. For this, try specialized dandruff shampoos with naturally hydrating ingredients. If you’re seeing a lot of “gunk” getting trapped under your nails when you scratch, you could be experiencing the latter, in which case swapping out products and using a scalp cleanser will likely be your savior here.
Whether your scalp sensitivity is caused by dryness or itchiness, it can be infuriating. Try taking the steps above, and if it gets serious, you may consider consulting your physician. Let us know what has or hasn’t worked for you in the comments below.