How To Treat A Dry Scalp, According To A Dermatologist

It's that time of year again when your hands get cracked, your face develops dry patches, and if you're lucky enough to catch a cold, your nostrils start to crust due to over-blowing. So you might be wondering how to treat a dry scalp, if that's causing you problems too this winter.

When it comes to winter, it's as if your body falls under attack from the elements and you may be left feeling powerless against the freezing temperatures and biting winds. But it's not just the outdoors that can cause dryness to humans — indoor heating is another cause of dry skin, which you might not have considered. So, with no escape from dryness in sight, you'll need to arm yourself with knowledge on how to keep dryness at bay.

Of course, dry skin of any kind sucks. But, a dry scalp can be uncomfortable, frustrating, and even a little embarrassing. If you've ever been in an important interaction with someone and all you can focus on is the incessant itch on your head, you'll know how annoying a dry scalp can be. Worse still, is the dandruff that will likely come with your dry scalp, that clings to your dark clothes like tenacious snowflakes and makes you worry that any minor disturbance to your barnet will kick start a flaky avalanche.

So I spoke with Dr. Janet Prystowsky about how to treat a dry scalp, to make your winter a little more pleasant.

Dr. Prystowsky tells Bustle over email, “It’s easy to have dry scalp problems during the winter, but depending on the root cause of your dry scalp, there may be different approaches in treating it.”

“For general dandruff, I recommend using a dandruff shampoo twice a week," says Dr. Prystowsky. “Keep in mind that not all dandruff shampoos are the same. Some shampoos use Zinc Pyrithione while others use Selenium Sulfide or a different active [ingredient]. The front label should let you know which active is being used. If one type of shampoo doesn’t work for you, try one with a different active.”

However, dandruff shampoos won't fix other scalp issues. Dr. Prystowsky explains, "If your dry scalp isn’t solved by a dandruff shampoo, it’s possible that you may have eczema. Eczema can be exacerbated by dry weather."

Alternatively, she adds, "If you notice dry patches of flaky skin not on your scalp, that could be psoriasis. Consult with your dermatologist regarding best treatment options for your condition." If you've tried dandruff shampoos and they aren't alleviating your dry scalp, it's probably a good time to visit your dermatologist.

In the meantime, while you wait to see a professional, Dr. Prystowsky says, "Moisturizing your scalp with an oil shampoo may help relieve your symptoms." So stock up on some oil-based shampoos in the interim.

It's time to get rid of your dry scalp once and for all. So put Dr. Prystowsky's professional advice to work and look forward to a flake-free existence!

Images: Allef Vinicius (1), Sylvain Reygaerts (1), Matheus Ferrero (1), Elena Saharova (1) /Unsplash