Scalp problems are extremely common, and come in so many different forms. No matter what scalp issues you may currently be battling, here are 8 pretreatments that are likely to be able to help.
1. Pretreatment for Scalp Acne
While scalp acne may not actually be noticeable unless you have short hair, it is still unpleasant to deal with, as it can be painful, annoying, and lead to hair loss.
Scalp acne can be caused by a number of different things:
- Junk food
- An oily scalp
- Hair products
The acne that forms on your scalp is exactly the same as acne that would form on your face, or other parts of your body, and can significantly vary in severity.
To treat scalp acne, use a medicated shampoo, as recommended in the section above for oily scalps.
Since your scalp acne is the same as any other type of acne, you can also use over-the-counter acne treatments to clear breakouts, although you are best off avoiding any products that contain benzoyl peroxide, as these can cause discoloration in your hair.
Even if your acne is not being caused by the hair products you use, it would still be worth making sure that everything you apply to your hair is lightweight and free of petroleum. You should also make sure to wash any hair products out of your hair at the end of each day, as leaving these in will only lead to more breakouts.
2. Pretreatments for a Dry and Itchy Scalp
People usually think that a dry and itchy scalp is the same thing as dandruff, but this is not actually true…
While both conditions can cause itching and flakiness, dandruff usually requires the use of a medicated shampoo to be treated, while dry scalp can be treated by rehydrating the scalp.
So, what actually causes dry scalp?
This occurs when your skin is not receiving enough moisture, which can happen for a few different reasons:
- Cold and dry air
- Contact dermatitis
If you have a dry scalp, you will likely also notice other dry and itchy areas around your body.
If left untreated, dry scalp can lead to hair loss, so it is important that you take the steps necessary to rehydrate your scalp.
A scalp massage is a great way to begin, as this helps to lift away dirt and redistribute your natural oils around your scalp. Hair masks are also effective, as these remain on the head for quite some time, allowing the moisture to really penetrate into the scalp. Try using one that contains shea butter, as this will bring so much goodness to your scalp.
In terms of shampoo, moisturizing shampoos are key, while medicated shampoos can also help.
Exfoliating your scalp could also help.
Wondering how to do this?
Dedicated products containing fruit enzymes or salicylic acid are the gentlest, as well as extremely effective. There are also many scalp scrubs out there, but be careful that these do not end up exacerbating your dryness.
3. Pretreatments for Allergic Contact Dermatitis
As mentioned above, contact dermatitis can lead to a dry and itchy scalp, and can also cause inflammation and redness.
What exactly is allergic contact dermatitis?
This is caused when certain chemicals irritate the skin. One common irritant is paraphenylenediamine, also known as PPD, which is often used in permanent hair dyes. Fragrances in shampoos and conditioners are another common cause.
While steroid gels and creams can help to decrease the inflammation and reduce the symptoms, the problems will never really go away until you identify the exact cause, and then eliminate it from your routine.
4. Pretreatments for Scalp Ringworm
While it may sound frightening, scalp ringworm is not actually a worm, and instead refers to a fungal infection, the same as athlete’s foot.
Wondering what this actually looks like?
It usually appears as scaly spots and hairless patches, often with black dots in them. These black dots are actually hairs that have broken off at scalp level.
Ringworm is surprisingly common…
But many people mistake it for bad dandruff, and therefore opt for the wrong treatments.
So, what are the right treatment options?
An anti-fungal shampoo is key, and should be taken alongside an oral antibiotic. If you share a home with other people, they should also start using the shampoo, as ringworm is easily contagious, and can also reinfect a person. You should also have any pets checked out, as ringworm can pass from humans to other animals, and vice versa.
But what actually causes ringworm in the first place?
It is spread through contact with infected people, animals and soil, and can be caught through sharing everything from pillowcases and hairbrushes to clothing.
5. Pretreatments for an Oily Scalp/Seborrhea
An oily scalp, also known as seborrhea, will soon leave you with greasy hair, while also contributing to outbreaks of dandruff, neither of which anyone wants to deal with. No matter how much you seem to wash your hair, you will never be able to really clear away this oil.
Do you know what actually causes an oily scalp?
Well, your scalp contains sebaceous glands that produce oil, and these provide your scalp with an important layer of protection that helps to keep it hydrated.
However, for a number of different reasons, sebaceous glands can sometimes produce excess oil, resulting in an oily scalp.
This tends to affect men more than women…
Because male scalps naturally generate up to 50% more oil than female scalps.
So, what can you do about it?
The first step is a medicated shampoo, Look for one containing either salicylic acid, tar or selenium, because these ingredients will help to clear away excess oil while rebalancing your scalp’s natural oil production.
It can sometimes be helpful washing your hair twice, because all of the excess oil present in the first wash can prevent the medicated shampoo from properly lathering up, which you need in order to cleanse your scalp.
In addition to a medicated shampoo, you could also look into traditional remedies, such as apple cider vinegar. This can be used as a hair rinse to reduce oiliness. Tea tree oil is another effective one, and can be mixed into your regular shampoo.
6. Pretreatments for Scalp Psoriasis
Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that results in dry, itchy and flaky skin. This is frustrating no matter where on your body it appears, but, when it is on your scalp, it can seem even harder to beat.
Psoriasis actually affects around 2% of the population, with around half of those people experiencing it on their scalp.
These are a few of the symptoms:
- Red, scaly patches, especially along the hairline
- Itchy and painful areas
- Flaky skin
Unfortunately, there is nothing that can actually cure scalp psoriasis, but there are a few pretreatments that can help to prevent flare-ups from occurring.
To begin with, you should be using a shampoo that has been designed for scalp psoriasis. These will contain ingredients that will soothe the skin, while loosening any scaly patches so that they can be washed away.
There are two main types of psoriasis shampoos out there:
- Tar Shampoos – the active ingredient in a tar shampoo is, as you may have guessed, coal tar, which is a by-product of coal. This helps to reduce inflammation and itching, while restoring the skin’s appearance. However, keep in mind that many tar shampoos have quite a distinctive smell to them
- Medicated Shampoos – these can contain a variety of ingredients, from topical steroids to salicylic acid to algae
A psoriasis shampoo is designed to treat your scalp, not wash your hair, so you need to ensure that you really massage it into your scalp well. Leave it in for up to ten minutes before washing it out.
Another pretreatment for scalp psoriasis is…
The use of organic oils topically. Whether this may be argan, coconut or tea tree, these oils can really help to calm the skin and minimize itchiness. The effects of this tend to be boosted when paired with omega-3 fatty acid supplements, as this helps to treat the skin from within as well as externally.
7. Pretreatments for Dandruff /Seborrheic Dermatitis
Otherwise known as seborrheic dermatitis, dandruff affects up to 50% of the population at some point in their lives. This usually occurs between adolescence and the age of 50.
Because this is when the sebaceous glands, which produce oil, are at their most active.
So what actually causes dandruff?
Usually, dead skin cells are naturally shed by the body, but when this does not happen, they end up building up on the scalp. It does not take long for the scalp to become irritated by this, leading to inflammation and peeling. An overly oily or dry scalp can also cause dandruff, as can certain skin conditions, such as psoriasis and eczema.
Before even thinking about pretreatments, you need to first go through all of the products that you currently use on your hair. Sensitivity to certain ingredients can irritate the scalp, leading to dandruff, so you need to stop using these immediately.
Here are a few of the things that you should be looking out for:
- Hair dyes, especially those that contain paraphenylenediamine
- Shampoos that contain harsh chemicals, such as sulfates
- The use of too many styling products
Unfortunately, dandruff is a condition, not a disease, meaning that it cannot be cured. However, there are pretreatments that can help you to manage it.
Use an anti-dandruff shampoo that contains some of the following ingredients:
- Selenium – reduces fungus and slows down the rate at which skin cells die off
- Coal tar – slows the growth and shedding of skin cells
- Zinc pyrithione – an antifungal drug, but gentle enough to be used everyday
- Salicylic acid – removes scaliness from the scalp before it has the chance to flake off
- Ketoconazole – kills the fungus that causes dandruff. Can be purchased over-the-counter, as well as in prescription-strength
Make sure that you are leaving your shampoo on for at least five minutes, so that the ingredients have enough time to properly penetrate the scalp.
You should also shampoo your hair more frequently, massaging your scalp for five minutes before stepping into the shower. This will help to loosen the skin, allowing it to be washed away.
An alternative remedy for treating dandruff is tea tree oil, which has natural antifungal properties. You need a shampoo that contains around a 5% concentration of tea tree oil, but do make sure that you are not allergic to the ingredient before you use it.
When it comes to treating dandruff internally, a diet that contains plenty of antioxidants, which are mostly found in fresh fruits and vegetables, is key.
If none of this seems to be working for you…
You may need a prescription-strength steroid lotion, or even oral medications, both of which only a doctor can prescribe to you.
8. Pretreatments for Scalp Cysts
Cysts occur on organs, and since the skin is your body’s largest organ, it only makes sense that you will experience cysts on your skin at some point in life.
They are extremely common, easy to identify, and, in most cases, are absolutely no cause for concern.
What do they look like?
They are usually about the size of a marble or a grape, and are small sacs of skin that are filled with fluid. Most people first feel them when they run a brush or comb over the cyst.
Since cysts are no cause for concern, they can be left where they are. However, if they are bothering you, or are at risk of infection, surgical removal may be necessary.
Nevertheless, a new growth on your skin is something that should still be looked at by your doctor. Even though chances are low, some scalp cysts can turn out to be cancerous, so it is best to get a professional opinion.