Scalp flakes can occur for a variety of reasons such as overactive sebaceous (oil) glands, dandruff causing scalp fungus, allergic reaction to product(s), and dry scalp. Additionally, scalp flakes can be wet or dry. As an example, Seborrheic Dermatitis (overactive sebaceous glands) will produce “wet” flaking which may look like paste or glue (especially when water is applied to the scalp). This type of flake can look like “cradlecap” on a baby, but may not cover the entire head (can be in patches). If left untreated, it can become very thick and difficult to remove. In contrast, dandruff and dry scalp produce “dry” flaking which shed more easily and fall like snowflakes. Dandruff and dry scalp are not the same but both produce “dry” flaking.
There are effective off-the-shelf medicated shampoos that can help provide relief such as T-Gel (my favorite for use in the salon) and Nizoral. However, an all-natural treatment can include spraying the scalp with an apple-cider vinegar (ACV) and water mix, placing a plastic cap on the head and letting it sit for 20-30 minutes (under hair dryer preferred). Follow the ACV treatment with your hair cleansing and conditioning routine. Some clients need both of these methods and some clients alternate between the two depending on how severe the flaking is. In either case (wet or dry flaking) start by:
1. Cleaning the scalp thoroughly, removing all flaking. This may take a series of shampoo and rinse cycles.
2. Once all flaking has been removed, keep track of how many days pass before flakes are seen again (mark your calendar). This will help you identify how often your scalp may need to be cleaned (full shampoo or spot cleaning) to reduce and/or eliminate flakes.
3. NOTE: in cases of wet flaking, avoid applying additional oils to the scalp after your cleansing and conditioning routine.
Aggressive scalp flaking can often be accompanied by itching and inflammation. If you are experiencing flaking that cannot be easily controlled, please consult a Dermatologist.