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Caring for Your Scalp

Updated on December 2, 2014

Although the scalp is not a visible part of the human body, there is no reason why we should not pay similar attention to it as we do with our skin. Like skin, the scalp should also be treated with care to ensure that hair remains healthy and beautiful. If the scalp is not cared for, one is prone to dandruff problems as well as various hair problems like baldness, branched or damaged ends. A lot of people may not realize that the scalp care in men is different from women. Men’s scalp is usually weaker and stressed out because of exposure from pollution and heat. On the other hand, women’s scalp problem is usually associated with the use of hair dye resulting in the hair becoming dry and brittle.

Research shows that men have more oily scalp compared to women because of the weaker defense system on the scalp. Although women’s hair is generally exposed to chemicals from the hair dye, they have less oily scalp compared to men. This is due to the powerful skin defense systems in women’s scalp. The more the oil surface in the scalp, the less resilient it is against stress and pollution.



Dandruff is often caused by the multiplication of a micro-organism known as Malassezia. This micro-organism feeds on the oils our hair follicles discharge. When this occurs, the scalp can become irritated and produces extra skin cells. These extra skin cells die and fall off and very often they mix with the oil from the hair and scalp thus turning into what we see as dandruff. People who have dandruff problem also experience prolonged thinning layer of the epidermis with a total of 10 layers compared with 25 to 35 on a healthy scalp.

Women who wear head coverings are advised to take extra precaution because the scalp is more susceptible to experiencing dry and oily surface. The way the head covering is worn can prevent air from getting in and instead, it traps more heat. Women who cover their hair should frequently wash their hair with suitable shampoo and conditioner.

Dandruff is a common problem experienced by many. Unless you use the right product, it is not easy to get rid of. It may be reduced by consuming a balanced diet containing plenty of omega-3 oils and fish oils. It can also be controlled with the use of proper hair care products like anti-fungus shampoo. Avoid using medicated shampoo to treat dandruff as it won’t do any good. Most importantly, avoid long exposure to sunlight because it is the perfect agent that can damage your scalp and hair.

Skin Layers

It is important to understand about our skin in order to understand why dandruff occurs. Our skin is at least 1mm thick and consists of three essential layers namely:

Epidermis – This is the upper or outer layer of the two main layers of cells that make up the skin. Epidermis consists of mostly keratinocytes that produce keratin which helps make our skin resistant to environmental toxins and physical stress. Squamous cells are the thickest layer of the Epidermis mostly made up of flat, scale-like cells. The basal layer is the deepest layer of the Epidermis that sits just on top of the dermis. Within the basal layer contains cells called melanocytes responsible for melanin production that gives the skin its color.

Dermis – The dermis is the second layer and is located at the bottom of the epidermis. It connects the epidermis to the rest of the body. Dermis contains collagen, elastic tissue and reticular fibers. Collagen in the dermis layer is responsible for the strength of the skin and holding skin tissue together like fluid.

Hypodermis – This is the largest layer of skin which consists of glands and cells that are sensitive to touch, pressure, pain and temperature. At the base of the hypodermis are series of veins, arteries, and lymph channels which regulate blood cells and nerves. These 3 layers of skin lay on top of muscles.

The process of new cells formation occurs in the basal layer. When cell division occurs, new cells are formed. Newly formed cells then push the skin cells to the surface of the epidermis when they mature. Old cells pushed on the surface of the epidermis will then become oily and flat. This replacement process will stop when the cell is at the bottom layer of old cells. These old cells that die out on its own will then slowly fall out when we scratch or clean our head. In most cases, a new cell replacement cycle occurs between 25 to 28 days.


Control Method

There are several types of shampoos containing anti-dandruff agents and disinfectant including:

Selenium sulfide shampoo such as Selsun Blue can help prevent the development of Malassezia fungus and prevent cell turnover.

Keratolytic shampoos are designed to dissolve scales and skin flakes on the head. Not only it helps improve the appearance of skin, it also helps other topical ointment penetrate the skin better.

Ketoconazole shampoo such as Nizoral helps control dandruff related itching and scaling.

Scalp Care Tips

Once the dandruff is controlled, you should use anti-dandruff shampoo 2-3 times a week alternating with your normal moisturizing shampoo.

It is recommended that you see your dermatologist if over the counter treatments fail.

Eating right, managing stress and reducing the use of hair styling products can help control dandruff.

Establish a routine dandruff control to keep your hair looking healthy and free of flake.

Disclaimer: The advice contains in this article does not intend to be a substitute for a personal consultation with a qualified dermatologist. Any materials and recommendations posted here serve as general information purposes only.

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    • profile image

      Serena 6 years ago

      Clear n concise