Itchy scalps are unbearable. And, while they might not be the most glamour of beauty topics to talk about, it's an affliction that's all too common.
Flaky, itchy, irritated and inflamed scalps will affect most women at some point. Once it sets in, it can feel like it will never stop. What then, can sufferers do about the awkward beauty woe other than invest in a good old bottle of Head & Shoulders? Actually, plenty, thankfully.
We've enlisted the advice of Wil Fleeson, owner of Rainbow Room International's Stirling and Buchanan Street Salons and Director of Trichology Scotland, to share five definitive reasons why your scalp might be itching - and how you can rectify it immediately.
1. Dandruff: Dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis is one of the most common reasons why people have an itchy scalp. These conditions are caused by irritated and oily skin, as well as yeast. There are many over the counter products you can use to treat dandruff. I always recommend using shampoos that are sulphate-free, as they are a much gentler cleansing agent and use natural alternatives. Kala Kilshaw, Creative Director of EGO Professional, recommends choosing a shampoo containing Zinc [like Redken Scalp Relief Dandruff Shampoo, £16.50] to help relieve itchy scalp and Candula extract [like Weleda Calendula Shampoo & Body Wash, £7.50] for soothing and calming the scalp. Kala also maintains that drying your hair thoroughly and not going to bed with damp hair will help prevent, scalp fungus, scalp irritation and itching.
2. Psoriasis or eczema: Another common cause of an itchy scalp is psoriasis or eczema, which are inflammatory skin conditions that can appear on the scalp. These conditions are not contagious and can't spread from person to person, however, you can be more likely to develop the condition if someone in your family has it. The conditions cause red, scaly and flaky itchy patches on the scalp but, like dandruff, these conditions can be treated to reduce the symptoms. With these symptoms I would always recommend visiting a trichologist who can work out the correct treatment plan for you according to the severity of your condition.
3. Dry scalp: Another common cause of an itchy scalp is a dry scalp, which is more common during the winter months when you are moving between the cold weather outside to a central heated house. This harsh weather can strip the scalp of its natural oils so try to keep it moisturised by using moisturising hair products, particularly moisturising conditioners and hair masks.
4. Hair lice: Hair lice or nits, which are tiny eggs that attach themselves to your hair strands, are another very common cause of an itchy scalp and are usually picked up from head-to-head . With hair lice, the key is to treat them as soon as you spot them and there are plenty of products on the market that can help to get rid of them, including medicated lotions and sprays, tea tree oil remedies and special head lice combs [try Nitwits All-In-One Headlice Solution, £10].
5. Product build up: Product build up can make your scalp really dry, itchy and irritated. Why? Because many hair styling products, shampoos and conditioners contain allergens and irritants and the longer these are left on the scalp, the more likely they are to cause irritation and itching. Product build up can also interrupt your natural shedding gate. Naturally, we should lose between 50-100 hairs a day but product buildup can interrupt this natural shedding process and cause hair to become, dry flaky and itchy. To avoid this, try to stay away from using too much product on your hair, particularly products that contain silicones. [Try introducing a clarifying shampoo like Bumble & Bumble's Sunday Shampoo, £20, once a week].
Now you're armed with these handy tips, here's to a flake-free future!