The Most Common Scalp Issues & How To Treat Them
It’s not hyperbole to say that everyone reading this article has had, or will have, a scalp issue or two at some point in his or her life. It’s one of those you’re-not-alone situations (everything from hair loss to dandruff is super common), yet it’s a topic we often don’t feel comfortable talking about. Thus, many people suffer from easily treatable conditions quietly and alone — and that’s no good.
If you’re dealing with scalp problems, you shouldn’t be too embarrassed or afraid to seek treatment and advice. But here, we got the ball rolling for you. We reached out to some top dermatologists to get the lowdown on the most common scalp issues and how to deal with them.
If you’re noticing a drastic increase of the hair in your brush or in the shower drain, you might be experiencing hair loss. Before you can know how to treat it, however, you need to figure out the underlying cause.
The Problem: Hair Loss
“Hair loss and thinning can occur in both men and women for a variety of reasons,” says Dr. Lin. “Men and women naturally produce a hormone called Dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Some tend to produce excess DHT, which can cause hair to grow back thinner and more fragile.” Other hair loss causes, he adds, “include iron-deficiency, auto-immune disease, low thyroid, and other hormonal imbalances.”
Both Dr. Lin and Dr. Resnik agree, however, that the most common type of hair loss is alopecia areata, which means area hair loss; it looks like a circular bald patch (or several). You’re more likely to have alopecia areata if you struggle with stress, if you have a family member with the condition, or if you suffer from an autoimmune disorder.
If you suspect you have alopecia areata, there’s good news: Your hair is most likely to grow back on its own. “[Alopecia areata] is self-healing, but topical medicines, as well as injections of cortisone, can hasten its departure,” Dr. Resnik says.
As for other hair loss causes, Dr. Lin says that blood tests can pinpoint the culprit. Once you know what the underlying issue is, you can get started on treating it. Dr. Lin recommends incorporating protein, fatty acids, and vitamins such as Biotin into your diet — but that’s just to start.
According to Dr. Lin, there have been plenty of breakthroughs in hair loss treatments recently, from laser devices such as the iGrow to oral medications such as Finasteride. However, “the ultimate hair treatment,” says Dr. Lin, “is the hair transplant. Newer techniques involve harvesting small follicular units, which can minimize the size of the harvest site scar. Both men and women can benefit from hair transplants.”
You can also try giving your hair some simple TLC by massaging it with organic oils or hair serums. Dr. Engelman recommends a serum like NuGene’s Anti-Hair Loss Serum for hair loss because it “revs up sluggish hair follicles with essential growth factors and cytokines, effectively addressing the root causes of hair loss and thinning. It works not only to prevent future hair loss, but to revitalize follicular activity that will restore a youthful head of hair.”
Finally, Dr. Lin recommends avoiding heat styling tools, blow-drying, hair dye and other harsh chemicals, tight braids, and brushing wet hair (if you must brush your hair when wet, use a wide-toothed comb) to prevent breakage and additional hair loss.
By being gentle to your hair and scalp (as well as following a healthy diet), you probably won’t even need to resort to fancy hair treatments to get back to a thick head of hair — although it does feel good to know that those treatments will be there if you need them.