Signs you may have poor scalp health - and what to do about it

Itchiness and dandruff can be signs of poor scalp health. (Getty Images)
Itchiness and dandruff can be signs of poor scalp health. (Getty Images)

Hair is everything, well at least according to Phoebe Waller Bridge’s Fleabag character. But did you know that your scalp health can have a direct impact on your hair?

Scalp health has become an increasingly popular practice thanks to social media platforms like TikTok, where videos using the hashtag #scalphealth have over 468 million views alone.

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Other hashtags like #scalpcleaning and #scalptreatment have 5.8 million views and 351.6 million views respectively - but what is scalp health and how can it impact your hair?

What is scalp health?

"Scalp health refers to the condition of the skin on your head," Ruby Jo Lomax of hair, beauty and aesthetics education centre, RJL Education, says.

"A healthy scalp is free of dandruff, flakes, irritation, and inflammation, and should be well-hydrated, and with good blood circulation and balanced oil production."

Beautiful millennial woman applying serum for hair repair, wearing towel, smiling at herself in mirror at home, copy space. Damaged and split ends haircare treatment concept
Better scalp health can improve the length and lustre of your hair. (Getty Images)

Anabel Kingsley, brand president of hair product and treatment brand Philip Kingsley, recently defined scalp health as "a scalp that is absent of excessive oil or dead skin cell build-up" on the brand’s blog.

She adds that the scalp can become "densely populated by sebaceous (oil) glands that can swiftly become clogged by a build-up of oil, sweat and dead skin cells" when not properly cleaned.

Lomax adds that it's the condition of your scalp that dictates the length, lustre and health of your hair.

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"Think of your scalp as the flower bed and soil in which the flowers of your hair grow; it needs to provide everything your hair needs to be healthy and happy," she says.

Signs of poor scalp health

Liz Cacoilas at Neville Hair and Beauty says poor scalp health can result in itchiness, flakiness and redness.

Some other signs include:

  • Redness

  • Burning

  • Itching

  • Tightness

  • Flaking

  • Scaling

  • Dandruff

  • Seborrheic dermatitis (eczema of the scalp)

"You might also find that your hair breaks more easily, falls out, or there’s a noticeable change in hair texture," Lomax adds.

"Other symptoms include hair breakage, dandruff, pain, acne and cysts."

A woman has problems with hair and scalp,she has dandruff from allergic reactions to shampoos. and hair conditioner
Regularly cleansing your scalp can do wonders. (Getty Images)

How to help your scalp

There are several things you can do to help boost your scalp health.

Implement a consistent haircare routine

"This includes regular washing with the right products, using the right amount of products, incorporating scalp treatments, and even wearing SPF on your scalp for additional protection," Lomax says.

Be wary of the products you’re using

Lomax adds that you should also pay close attention to the products you are using on your scalp and hair.

"Try to go sulphate, paraben and alcohol-free where possible," she advises.

"For significant itchiness, an antibacterial haircare scalp treatment can work wonders. Don't underestimate the power of switching to gentler products and forgoing heat styling as much as possible.

"Scalp treatment - like exfoliation and SPF - can really help to 'reset' your scalp and start from the beginning; coupled with scalp massagers to remove buildup and stimulate blood flow."

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Avoid using dry shampoo

Cacoilas warns against the use of dry shampoo saying it’s 'bad for your scalp'.

"It builds up and can be a pain to remove with your regular shampoo. That buildup can lead to oily hair and blocked follicles," she adds.

Consider a scalp cleanse

"If you're experiencing excessive itching and dryness, scalp discomfort, or dandruff, then it might be time to consider a scalp cleanse," Lomax says.

"It's essentially a method of massaging the scalp - either with a brush or exfoliating scrub - and buffing away dead skin cells, unclogging the pores on your scalp, and working to clear product buildup from the hair follicles."

Lomax recommends cleansing your scalp ever four to six weeks.

Closeup view of bed with beautiful silk linens
A silk pillowcase can look after your hair and your scalp while you sleep. (Getty Images)

Invest in a silk pillowcase

A silk pillowcase can not only do wonders for your hair, but your scalp health too.

"It reduces friction on your hair while you sleep," Cacoilas explains.

Look after your physical health

Your hair and skin can be directly influenced by your body’s overall health, so Lomax recommends reducing stress where possible and taking supplements such as omega 3 tablets.

"Reduce stress where possible, as this can quickly impact your hormone levels, leading to dandruff, oily hair, and acne on the scalp," she says.

"Look after your body from the inside out. Add omega-3 and fish oils into your diet to combat a dry scalp, and consider taking a hair vitamin, one with biotin, folic acid, and vitamin D to promote healthy hair growth."

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