Could your scalp health be at the root of your hair hang-ups? Dr Anita Sturnham, GP specialising in Dermatology and consultant to pH balanced skincare brand Sebamed, explains how a healthy scalp is key to preventing common scalp complaints including dandruff, dermatitis and psoriasis...
We devote hours of our time every week looking after the skin on our face and body but the reality is that taking care of our scalp is just as important. A healthy scalp allows for silky, shiny hair and a protective barrier against infections so we should treat it with the same respect as the rest of our body.
Similarly to the rest of our skin, our scalp has a naturally low, slightly acidic pH of 5.5 that works as a protective mechanism against harmful microorganisms. When we indulge in heavily fragranced and acidic hair products, the pH is disrupted which increases the risk of hair loss, dandruff, dermatitis and scalp infections.
For a healthy scalp, first you need to address any underlying issues. Dryness, itching and dandruff are the common scalp complaints that can be managed simply by using good quality hair care products but watch out for shampoos that claim to be ‘pH balanced’. Many shampoo brands now talk about being pH balanced, when it actually means the manufacturer identified a target pH for their product where it performs best. Instead, a range such as Sebamed’s that has been carefully designed with the same pH level 5.5 as healthy skin can help to upkeep the scalp’s health.
So how does Dr Anita recommend that you treat these common hair hang-ups?
Dandruff is a common scalp condition that can leave you with whitish flakes of skin on the scalp and in the hair. Your skin cells constantly go through a remodelling and renewal cycle, whereby old skin is replaced by new skin approximately every 28 days. Sometimes this skin renewal cycle speeds up and goes into overdrive, leading to excessive shedding of old skin cells. This old skin gives you the visible flakes or dandruff which can be embarrassing for some.
To treat dandruff, I recommend using the Sebamed Anti-Dandruff Shampoo which contains actives such as Piroctone Olamine to ensure the gentle removal of dandruff while moisturising and conditioning the scalp and hair. Its effectiveness has even been confirmed in a dermatological test that saw 50% less dandruff on participants scalps within 14 days.
Dry and itchy scalp:
In a similar way to skin, if the epidermal barriers of the scalp are weakened, the scalp’s natural moisture balance is disturbed. As a result, the scalp can become dry and flaky. This dryness triggers off an itch-scratch cycle. Every time we itch the scalp, inflammatory chemicals are released in the scalp tissue and this makes the dryness and itch worse. A dry and itchy scalp can be associated with ageing or skin conditions such as Atopic Dermatitis or Psoriasis, and its symptoms can range from very mild to extreme.
Using gentle and PH balanced haircare, such as the Sebamed Everyday Shampoo which can help to soothe and relieve scalp itching and dryness while giving your hair softness and a healthy shine. For any persistent itch that does not improve, do book an appointment with your GP.
Which everyday habits are aggravating my scalp?
While a hot shower can be appealing especially in the winter months, washing the hair with water that is too hot can weaken the epidermal barriers of the scalp. By weakening the epidermal barriers, the scalps natural moisture balance can be disturbed causing dry and flaky skin.
Don’t overdo it on the hairspray and hair dye as the scalp can sometimes reject harsh chemicals such as those used in hair dye, hair sprays and gels, and as a result can cause inflammation of the scalp also known as contact dermatitis.
Overall, it is important to treat the scalp with the same importance as your face and body. Opting for pH-balanced products such as Sebamed’s haircare range keeps the scalp happy and healthy by restoring the scalp’s natural balance and strengthening its protective barriers to defend against infections and other haircare complaints.