What is your scalp trying to tell you?

Sep 17 / Jacky van Driel-Nguene

You may not be aware of this, but just like your hair, skin, and nails, your scalp can be a window into your overall health and wellness. Common scalp issues I see in my practice often are symptomatic of dysregulation in other parts of the body. 

When your scalp talks, you better listen. 

Knowing what your scalp discomfort really means may - to a certain extent - help you better understand your overall health status.

The most common signs to watch out for are flakes:
If they are small, dry, fluffy/powdery, without much itchiness or redness, then you might be dealing with dandruff. Dandruff tells you that your scalp's microbiota (microorganisms) is off balance. It can also tell you that you are sensitive to cleaning products (contact dermatitis) that can manifest on your whole body.
A high-quality organic balancing shampoo is preferable to a general anti-dandruff shampoo due to the dozens on the market; many actually perpetuate your dandruff problem! This is a well-known secret in the cosmetic industry as some of the most common ingredients in dandruff shampoos can be harsh, stripping and irritating ingredients that may keep you in the dandruff cycle and at risk of developing allergies.

"Foods like dairy products and shellfish, can aggravate seborrhoeic dermatitis."

If the flakes are larger, greasy, yellowish, brownish, more compact, or stuck onto your scalp, and if you are experiencing itchiness and see some redness, this often indicates inflammation. You could be dealing with seborrhoeic dermatitis or psoriasis.
These are very common and not entirely curable conditions. However, there are many ways to manage them. When you get a flare-up, you may have to consider a holistic approach; your sleep quality, stress or anxiety levels. Your trichologist might also recommend a blood test to see whether your flare-up might indicate a deficiency in vitamins or minerals such as vitamin D.
Foods like dairy products and shellfish, can aggravate seborrhoeic dermatitis or trigger a new flare-up. It may be a good idea to reduce their intake or eliminate them from the diet for a few months and then re-introduce some very slowly. Nightshade vegetables can be problematic for some people (tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, and peppers). Therefore, My warmest recommendation is an organic prebiotic balancing scalp/hair wash combined with a plant-based anti-inflammatory diet. 
Consulting an experienced trichologist will be helpful in getting the correct diagnosis. The trichologist will give you advice by addressing more factors such as deficiencies, illnesses, medications, hormones and hair products to help you attain and maintain health.
Sometimes, all of the signs and symptoms described in this article do not indicate a medical issue. As mentioned before, it may be that your scalp's microbiota is off and needs to be rebalanced (microbiota can refer to all the microorganisms found in a specific environment, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi. In this case, your scalp). When imbalanced, the "bad" bacteria take over and create a hostile environment that can cause different unhealthy conditions.
The easiest way to rebalance is to learn how to cleanse your scalp the right way, with a proper technique, while using clean prebiotics (prebiotics are "food" for good bacteria) products. Remember - there is no telling how often to wash as it is very individual what makes your scalp tic.
One thing is for sure, if you have accumulated debris, sebum, flakes and sweat on your scalp, it's important that you get rid of all the muck so you can start afresh with a clean canvas.

I usually have two simple recommendations for my clients to provide true cleansing and often instant relief.
Use a gentle, organic, yet effective prebiotic wash that will not strip or imbalance your scalp's microbiome further. It is always good if the wash has exfoliating and anti-inflammatory benefits on top. Avoid perfume and preservatives. You should calm and soothe your scalp by avoiding irritation at any cost. 
Use a soft silicone scalp brush. I recommend using it in a very gentle circular motion on your scalp (please see video). This will help to lift off all the compacted debris and flakes. Go section by section and take your time. Air dry your hair if possible. 
This regimen will provide you with a clean and balanced scalp that will start the process of healing and self-regulation.
Note! Rebalancing is not a quick fix – it's a SLOW FIX meant to last the rest of your life
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