Top 5 Highly Effective Ways to End Dry, Itchy Scalp and Dandruff

Sheetal Rawal, Founder, Apsara Skin Care

As soon as winter rolls in, many of us struggle with a dry, itchy scalp, and dandruff as it can cause a lot of stress on our day-to-day life. It might be hard to concentrate at work or enjoy time with friends and family when you're feeling uncomfortable.

Since Apsara Skin Care came into being, I must have received thousands of emails and phone calls from people complaining of dry, itchy scalp and dandruff. Men, women, children; there is a high percentage of people that suffer from hair dryness and dandruff. Flakiness appears to be a part of the dryness many times.

Often it gets better just after a wash but in a day or so the flakes reappear. There could be powdery or flakey appearing stuff flying off the head on to your clothes. Yes, I know how embarrassing it can be. Or when you simply cannot resist scratching the itch, this stuff gets trapped in the nails too. Sounds familiar? Well, I am not surprised given the number of people who go through this situation. I think it is reasonable to say that you are not alone at all.

Dandruff could have a fungal infection element to it. However, flakiness and powdery residue could be a result of dryness and not necessarily fungal infection.

Below are the top reasons for dry scalp and dandruff and what changes in lifestyle and personal care can be useful.

1. Harsh Chemical Detergents:

This is definitely on the top of my list. I think this might be the most common reason behind poor scalp health. SLSs are detergents that are also used as industrial degreasers. In hair care products they are watered down so to speak. In other words, they are diluted so that they do not cause immediate harm, like denaturation of skin proteins! So does that mean diluting them makes them safe? Well, we will let data speak for itself.


Solutions for dandruff


After playing with SLSs in personal care products, we are now beginning to realize how the harm caused can take a long time to manifest, and does so very slowly. Therefore it is not always easy to make the connection between very dry, itchy scalp and the presence of SLSs in products like shampoos.

When your scalp gets so dry and undernourished, it cannot support a healthy head of hair. Therefore hair issues develop. Now it is worth remembering that there are many other culprits as well. Artificial fragrance, alcohols, petroleum derived ingredients are all known to cause dryness and dehydration.

So what is the solution? It is easier than one might think. The immediate step to take is to make a switch to a gentle and SLS free shampoo like Rosemary and Amla Shampoo. Also free of all the other well known nasty ingredients.


Rosemary for hair issues


Second: Oil your scalp. Oiling your scalp brings nourishment and balance to it. It is for valid reasons that oiling your scalp at least once a week has been recommended and practised for centuries, if not more. A balanced scalp is far less prone to issues like dandruff and dryness. Be sure your hair oil is a serious blend of natural ingredients with a proven track record to help. For instance, almond oil is awesome for its nourishing and anti-dryness properties, while rosemary oil promotes a healthy scalp as rosemary is known for its natural anti-fungal properties. Therefore it is the herb of choice when it comes to dandruff control.

Watch this informative video in which I discuss the top reasons behind hair and scalp issues and ways to minimize them using long and short-term tactics.

2. Climate:

The state of the outside air can have a huge impact on our internal as well as external health. Most notable is the lack of adequate humidity in the air. Dryness in the air can cause our scalp, skin, and hair to become itchy, dry and brittle. So can bitter cold and winds.

The solution? An easy fix is to install a humidifier in your room and have it on all night. It is worth the effort to install one in your workspace as well. Switching to gentle and natural hair care products ensures that you're getting all of the nourishment your scalp needs. Oil massages 1-2 times a week once again come to the forefront here. Oils create a protective waterproof film that prevents the loss of moisture from the scalp, which in turn protects against breakage or damage caused by stressors like weather changes, UV rays exposure etc.,

Massaging the head at least once every two days including oil treatments can help prevent dryness while also strengthening elasticity so you have long term benefits such as less split ends!

3. Dehydrating Habits: Do You Have Them?

We might unknowingly contribute to dry scalp and dandruff by indulging in habits that go unnoticed for the most part. In my opinion, scalp issues are a result of imbalance; or in other words a lack of ideal environment in which your scalp can remain healthy and problem free.

One of the common habits that can cause our scalp to become dehydrated as well as undernourished

Solutions for dryness

is washing with water that is very hot. This means the beneficial oils in the scalp get washed away, follicles open up and allow for easy entry of harsh salts in the tap water. This condition is far less than ideal for scalp health. And it is very easy to imagine how it can lead to flakes, dryness, and dandruff.  

A high salt diet is dehydrating to the body. So is regular alcohol consumption as well as a diet that is deficient in good fats like olive oil, flaxseed oil, etc. Oils keep our body nourished and lubricated from the inside. Provided we use high-quality fats in our food and eat plenty of them, we can only do the right thing for the health of our scalp, hair, nails. Cutting out good fats from our diet can lead to health crises; and therefore I simply tune out the anti-fat rhetoric that in my opinion is extremely short-sighted, faulty and thankfully on the downhill.

What can I do? Look carefully at your diet and lifestyle and make changes that discourage dehydration. As a start make a promise to yourself that you will not shower with very hot water. That is an awesome start and it will lead to more changes.

4. Food Allergies:

As far as conditions like eczema, dermatitis psoriasis etc. are concerned,

Solutions for dry scalp
there are observations and studies linking them to food allergies (as one of the contributing factors). These disorders can affect the scalp and cause overall or patchy dryness, and dandruff. The appearance of dandruff due to this may or may not have a fungal infection associated with it.


Many times this dryness of scalp (especially low-level psoriasis) can look powdery, and over time can look more scaly. This dryness causing disorders are often made worse if the wrong hair care products are used.

Ayurveda has had a very decided approach in terms of food intake and prevalence of skin and scalp disorders. Foods that cause the body to heat up (aggravate pitta) are more likely to give rise to inflammatory disorders, which can manifest as dryness of scalp for instance.

Here is a useful resource with more information on food allergies and eczema, which can cause dryness and flakiness of scalp.

What can I do? Be vigilant and on the lookout for offenders. If you consistently observe a flare-up of dryness or dandruff after eating something, discontinue it for a couple of weeks and see what happens. In some cases getting a food allergy test is the best choice to make.

"I was having lots of issues with my hair. Lots of itchiness, lots of dandruff...I heard about Apasra...I ordered oil and a shampoo. I feel the difference now. [All of my] itchiness is gone. Hair fall is almost gone...I still do have some dandruff, but I feel it is improving a lot. I definitely recommend all the hair products."

5. Swimming Pools:

This does not come as a shock. When hundreds of people swim in the same water, it has to be severely altered to keep contamination in check. If not, the chances of getting very ill skyrocket.

So what does this water do to our skin and hair? More directly, a high percentage of chlorine in

Solutions for dry scalp

swimming pools can severely dry out your skin, hair, and scalp. Per Ayurveda, harsh chemicals at high concentrations are hot in nature. They increase the pitta element in our bodies and many issues can ensue. Hair fall, dry scalp, dandruff to name a few. In combination with direct sunlight, swimming can be the single most stressful activity as far as skin and hair health is concerned. Think early aging, early greying, dandruff, dry hair. The list is long.


What can I do? Cut down on swimming. This can be hard but it is the most straightforward answer. Having an appropriate and nourishing hair care routine can be a huge ally in not further aggravating damage. A hair oil massage, in particular, can nourish the follicles and hair to the extent that damage can be reversed.

Specifically to keep your scalp and hair protected, massage in some oil before hitting the pool. It will create a barrier and hopefully significantly minimize the amount of exposure to the chlorine in swimming pool water. And be sure to condition your hair to minimize the drying effect of the swimming water.

Hope you found this information useful. Questions? Comments? Use the comments field below.

Go natural. It is good karma!

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