Because your scalp is an extension of the skin on your body, its health can be influenced by diet, stress, products, genetics, and weather. We generally spend time taking care of our facial skin and hair, neglecting our scalps…until a problem arises. Whether it’s an itchy or flaky scalp, you can help bring it back into balance.
If you find the flakes have a yellowish tinge, it could be seborrheic dermatitis, or dandruff. This is a very common cause of flakes and is often a result of a fungus called malassezia. Excessive sebum can feed the fungus, causing irritation and inflammation as well as tiny white flakes.
Perhaps the issue is scalpal eczema which results in a very sensitive skin which can be itchy and have an accompanying red rash. The dryness of winter can exacerbate this condition and the flakes produced tend to resemble oat bran.
Psorasis is auto-immune disorder, typically inherited, that can impact skin all over the body, including the scalp. The immune system goes into over-drive, producing more skin cells than can be sloughed away naturally, causing a build up of scaly patches.
Stress, diet, chemical or food sensitivities, allergies, and weather can play a role in the need to brush your shoulders off.
Chemical sensitivities are hard to tie down (ever notice how many ingredients are in a typical shampoo?!) but keep an eye on products such as hair dye, styling products and other scalpal hygiene products.
Food sensitivities can play a role in skin’s irritation and breakouts. Talk with a qualified registered dietitian-nutritionist to help figure out what foods are helping versus hurting the situation. Omega-3s can help replenish moisture in an irritated or dry scalp. Research shows that high-glycemic diets and high blood sugar can increase inflammation. Refined, white carbohydrates typically found in sweets, pasta, bread and junk food can spike blood sugar. Probiotics can also help reduce dandruff since they help maintain a balance of yeast in the body. An anti-inflammatory diet including vegetables and fruits, protein providing certain minerals, and avoiding added sugar and processed foods is a good place to start.
Certain shampoos, herbs, and essential oils can help with fighting the fungus and cooling the scalp.
Stress can change your immune system and create inflammation in the body. Proper sleep is great for taming tension and anxiety; calming activities (i.e. reading, yoga, exercise, and meditation) can help.
May your scalp be soothed and shoulders free from flakes.