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Everything You Need to Know About Scalp Disorders

A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding Scalp Disorders

Everything You Need to Know About Scalp Disorders:

Giving scalp health top priority is an important piece of the hair care puzzle that promises to help you achieve the hair of your dreams!

Understanding Scalp Disorders:

The body has its microbiome – an ecosphere of fungi and bacteria, wherein they exist in a delicate balance (i.e. there are more friendly microbes as compared to the unfriendly ones), and they make sure that the body is healthy and functioning optimally. Making sure that the scalp ecosystem is well balanced is very vital for a healthy scalp and for good hair growth.

An unhealthy scalp causes weak hair strands, hair thinning, excessive hair shedding, and poor hair growth.

What are Scalp Disorders?

Good scalp care is your strong weapon to attaining healthy-looking, beautiful hair.

The scalp houses the hair roots which sprout the hair, consequently a healthy scalp will give you healthy, luxuriant hair, whilst an unhealthy one will give you straggly hair and a stunted hair growth. Thus, identifying scalp disorders and treating them promptly is extremely crucial.

Common Types of Scalp Disorders:

Clinically, here are the frequently seen diseases and disorders of the scalp –

The Impact of Scalp Disorders on Hair Growth:

The hair follicles manufacture and release sebum, which nourishes the scalp, however, large amounts of sebum can be counter effective. Excessive sebum, combined with using too much of hair care products leaves a thick residue behind. This is turn causes an unhealthy build-up which blocks the hair follicles, and which in turn causes a host of scalp disorders and eventually sets off hair thinning and hair loss.

Causes of Scalp Disorders:

That which upsets the scalp’s microbiome will adversely affect your scalp’s health. The chief culprits responsible for an unhealthy scalp are –

Recognizing the Symptoms of Scalp Disorders:

An unhealthy scalp manifests as –

Diagnosis and Treatment of Scalp Disorders:

A healthy scalp is the very cornerstone for beautiful hair, thus you need to give your scalp the attention it truly deserves. A healthy scalp will be clean, well hydrated and symptom free. If you seem to be grappling with irritation and itching of the scalp, dryness and flakiness or undue hair fall, get in touch with your trichologist immediately.

The Diagnosis for Scalp Disorders:

The possible diagnosis for scalp conditions include –

Chronic dandruff

Dandruff is brought on by a very oily scalp or a very dry one, multiplication of the Malassezia fungus which thrives on the sebum of the scalp, being sensitive to certain hair care products; and eczema.

Seborrheic Dermatitis

Manifests as scaly patches, inflamed skin and stubborn dandruff. The exact cause of seborrheic dermatitis is ambiguous. It may be due to the fungus Malassezia, a greasy scalp or a poorly functioning immune system.

Cradle Cap

Thick white or yellow scales form on a baby’s scalp which are rather tough to get rid of. Cradle cap occurs because of the hormones passed from the mother to the baby. These hormones trigger excessive release of sebum from the oil glands and cause scaling and crusting.


Ringworm or tinea capitis is caused by a fungus. It causes itchy, scales on the scalp, and is responsible for bald patches on the head, given that the infection causes hair loss.


Folliculitis is an inflammation of the hair follicles. The condition is caused due to Staphylococcus aureus infection. Occasionally, fungi, viruses, parasites, certain medications and physical trauma can also cause folliculitis. The scalp shows tiny red boils that ooze pus.


The symptoms of psoriasis vary from white scales, to eruptions to itching, burning, and oozing.

Based on your symptoms, your doctor will establish what your diagnosis is and will start the appropriate treatment.

Possible Treatment Approaches for Scalp Disorders:

Your doctor will prescribe a multi lateral approach to treat scalp disorders. Based on the diagnosis, he will prescribe an antibacterial or antifungal to eliminate the microbe. He will prescribe medicines to deal with burning, itching and inflammation. Alongside, certain supplements are essential to boost scalp health and to speed up repair. He will outline guidelines as to how to cleanse, clarify and moisturise the scalp and take care of the hair too.

Everyday Practices for Scalp Health:

Use doctor approved Hair Care Products

Before you opt for your hair care products, talk to your doctor which product would be the best fit for you. Also, read the labels on your shampoo, conditioner, or hair mask – knowing the composition of your product is very essential. Some products are packed with nasty chemicals which irritate the scalp and block the follicles. Ditch products that contain sulphates, paraben, fragrances, and alcohol – these strip off the natural oils from your scalp, making it dry and flaky, irritate the scalp, cause itching and are also carcinogenic.

Steer clear of hair colors

These are loaded with noxious chemicals which cause chemical burns to the scalp and damage the hair shaft and hair follicle.

Do not Wash the hair too frequently

Washing the hair and scalp is necessary for good hygiene, however, do not overdo it. Washing the scalp too frequently changes the scalp's microbiome as well as its pH, making the harmful microbes take over and cause infection. The frequency of washing the hair depends largely on the hair type, how much you sweat and how much sebum the scalp releases. You will in all likelihood need to modify your routine with change in seasons or with respect to your lifestyle too – e.g. the scalp is drier in winter and hence frequent washing will be counter effective; if you exercise regularly it causes an oil and grime build-up and needs to be cleaned promptly.

Gently shampoo the Scalp

Use a mild shampoo that’s free from paraben and sulphates and do not scrub aggressively. Use gentle circular movements to clean your scalp. If you scrub aggressively, you will strip all the natural oils and cause irritation as well as abrasions.

Use Tea Tree Oil based products

Tea tree essential oil is a natural antimicrobial agent. It prevents infections, keeps the scalp squeaky clean and fights off dandruff successfully. Also boasting of potent antifungal properties, tea tree oil combats seborrheic dermatitis and folliculitis.

Exfoliate the scalp

Gently scrubbing the scalp helps get rid of dead skin, grime, grease and product build-up. If the scalp is not exfoliated regularly, the hair roots get clogged, triggering infection, boils and poor hair growth. Using plant-derived exfoliators gently throw out toxins and dirt and sluice out a build-up too. Scrubbing the scalp also triggers hair growth by dilating the blood vessels which in turn bring in plenty of oxygen and nutrients.

Include a fistful of nuts in to your daily menu

Nuts are abundant in protein, selenium, and omega 3 fatty acids – these are crucial for good hair growth. Ensure that you have a handful of cashews, pistachios, almonds or walnuts everyday.

Amp up on probiotics

Probiotics maintain a healthy gut microbiome and thus prevent harmful microbes from multiplying and causing infection. Consuming foods that give you a generous dose of probiotics – yogurt, kefir, kombucha or having a supplement everyday yields excellent benefits. Probiotics are excellent for your gut health as well as the skin. Since the scalp is in effect skin, probiotics influence the scalp and hair health too.

Do's and Don’ts for a Healthy Scalp:

Make sure your scalp is well nourished

Feed your scalp from the inside, out. Include plenty of healthy ‘hair and scalp’ foods – leafy greens, berries, pumpkin, walnuts, chia seeds and fish, take your supplements – biotin, vitamin C, vitamin A, and omega 3, and use natural remedies to moisturise the scalp – coconut oil, jojoba oil, almond oil, Shea butter and honey.

Keep your scalp clean

Wash your scalp and hair 3 to 4 times a week, oftener if you sweat a lot. It is essential that you get rid of the dirt, grease, grime, and product build-up and detox your scalp well. Scalp exfoliation also plays a key role is maintaining good scalp hygiene.

Hydrate well

Drink enough water, so that the scalp is supple and hydrated. Also use a natural serum to prevent drying and flakiness.

Massage regularly

It has been proven that a massage stimulates good hair growth, loosens stubborn build-up of grime and products and gets rid of dead cells. Gently massage the scalp once daily for 1 to 2 minutes.

Don’t use harsh shampoos and conditioners

Make sure you discuss with your trichologist regarding which hair care products would be best suited for you. Always use doctor approved hair products. Additionally, make sure that you read labels carefully.

A weekly leave-in treatment for the scalp yields excellent results

A leave-in treatment for the scalp moisturizes and nourishes it and makes it supple and healthy. Experts recommend using hyaluronic acid and tea tree essential oil as a leave-in masq for the scalp.


The scalp turns unhealthy when there is an undiagnosed skin condition, such as dermatitis, eczema or psoriasis, or an infection. An unhealthy scalp is characterized by – dryness, greasiness, boils, dandruff, hair loss, cysts, itching, and stunted hair growth.

Causes for unhealthy scalp are multiple – using harsh shampoos and conditioners, using too many and too much of hair care products, using hair care products too frequently, poor scalp hygiene, untreated infection or medical condition.

A healthy scalp looks clean, and feels soft and supple as against being dry and flaky. The scalp won’t seem greasy and there will not be a product build-up. A healthy scalp won’t be itchy, and there won’t be pain or burning. There won’t be dandruff, boils or scabs.

Most importantly, the hair will look healthy, beautiful and lustrous.

If you have a dry scalp, the first thing to do is reduce your frequency of washing the scalp and hair, follow that up with a deep conditioner, and make sure that you moisturize your scalp frequently.

A deep-conditioning treatment, using these natural remedies singly or in combination will proffer wonderful results – jojoba oil, olive oil, egg, mashed avocado, yogurt and Shea butter – these nourish your scalp with the choicest nutrients, naturally. Also, oiling the scalp before you shampoo is recommended by all experts.

The normal pH of the scalp is about 5.5; the scalp is alkaline compared to the hair which is mildly acidic, but the scalp’s pH is like the pH of the skin on the body. The scalp's pH tends to change frequently, so keeping the pH constant is a tricky balancing act. When the pH of the scalp is 5.5, then the microbiome of the scalp stays in check, and this prevents an overgrowth of the harmful microbes which could trigger scalp infections. The normal pH protects your hair follicles from infectious agents, toxins, and hair damage. A balanced pH also staves off inflammatory conditions such as dermatitis and eczema.
Malassezia is a fungus which lives on our skin. If you have been wrestling with dandruff, then Malassezia globosa has attacked your scalp. Malassezia dwells in our scalp and is by and large completely harmless. Occasionally, the scalp gets affected by the fungus and causes obstinate dandruff. The fungus feeds on the sebum synthesized by the scalp. Decomposition of the sebum releases oleic acid, which makes the scalp red and inflamed. To deal with the irritant, the body speeds up cell growth and this causes flaking.

Your scalp needs to be deep cleaned on and off on a regular basis. Clarifying gets rid of all the accumulated dirt, grime, grease and product build-up. You could opt for a clarifying shampoo or use natural remedies which do the job beautifully. As a consequence, you will have healthy hair follicles and an increase in hair growth and hair thickness. Clarifying the scalp is literally a game-changer for achieving healthy, bouncy hair that is not weighed down. Clarifying the scalp is especially important if you find your hair looking dull and limp. The most effective natural home remedies to clarify your scalp are – tea tree essential oil, apple cider vinegar, baking soda, coffee, and sugar. They do a brilliant job at cleansing and detoxing your scalp naturally.

Here’s a round-up of home remedies to treat dandruff successfully -

  • Baking soda – removes the build-up on the scalp, balances the pH level closes the cuticles giving you shinier hair.
  • Vinegar – gently washes away all dead skin cells, flakes and product build-up and soothes the scalp.
  • Honey – honey is an excellent anti-dandruff agent! It gets rid of the flakes, balance the pH and leaves your hair soft and shiny. It’s a wonderful scalp cleanser being a potent antibacterial and antifungal, but very gentle on the scalp.

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