tough love: get a handle on those scalp conditions!

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focus on scalp conditions: eczema, dandruff, fungal infections and alopecia.

if you have not seen one already, please see a doctor if any of these conditions persist. please do not self-diagnosis or self-medicate without getting the proper information. the information that follows is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

1) the roots to the causes of dandruff are varied. most often it is the result of dead skin cells due to overactive sebum production. most of us are familiar with those unflattering white flakes. it has been linked to hormonal changes and stress. as a child, i had persistent dandruff that was not alleviated by commercial or physician prescribed anti-dandruff shampoos. the dandruff remained while my hair became stripped and dry. knowing now what i know about sulfate shampoos, i understand why (and i’m sure “grease” only exacerbated the problem). eventually my mother had success with various “back home” concoctions in the form of scalp pretreatments before shampooing which included castor oil mixed with herbs.

some options to try:
for dandruff and fungal infections, try apple cider vinegar (acv). this is because apple cider vinegar has anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral properties, mostly coming from the malic acid and acetic acid portion of the vinegar. many people suffer from dandruff due to some kind of yeast on the scalp. the key with using acv is consistency. use it with every wash. leave it in the night before you wash as a pre-treatment. mix it with a few drops of rosemary, sage or lemongrass. several years ago, i acquired this anti-dandruff recipe: mix equal parts tea tree oil with jojoba, cover with cap for 30 minutes. follow with an apple cider vinegar/water rinse in a 1:4 ratio. you can also simply add a few drops of tea tree oil to your shampoo. another oil with disinfectant/antibacterial/antifungal properties is neem oil. use it as a pretreatment before a wash. caution: a little goes a long way! test your level of sensitivity with this oil as it is potent. and the scent may not be pleasing to some as it is strong and nutty! finally, you will not see results if you’re contaminating your scalp with harmful ingredients. avoid ingredients on the natural girl’s black list.

2) eczema is thought to be linked to an overactive response by the body’s immune system to a bacterium that normally lives on the skin or the body’s response to an irritant. again, avoid sulfate shampoos/cleansers and harsh detergents. some of the best oils that have provided relief are kukui nut oil, emu oil and neem oil. use on damp skin/scalp. tea tree oil is an antibacterial so it works the bacterial angle. add foods rich in b and e vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids and zinc to your diet. although the cause of eczema is unknown, symptoms typically occur as an allergic response so try supplementing internally with natural anti-inflammatory agents like turmeric and msm.

3) alopecia areata is characterized by bald patches on the head. according to the dermatology channel, it is sometimes associated with autoimmune diseases like lupus and allergies. its cause is unknown but one-fifth of those afflicted by alopecia areata have a family history. although not a trichologist, i do know that some people have triggered traction alopecia with harmful hair practices like tight braids. other triggers can include hormone imbalances, eczema, fungal infections, and chemicals in hair dyes, relaxers and permanents. check out this link for more triggers. according to cathy wong, some alopecia sufferers have had success with daily onion juice treatments and daily essential oil massages. try a blend of thyme, rosemary, lavender and cedarwood blended with jojoba and grapeseed oil. extreme stress has been linked to hair loss. try exercising, yoga and meditation to clear out negative energy.

a traction alopecia sufferer
check out this link for other beneficial treatments for hair loss

~j~

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13 thoughts on “tough love: get a handle on those scalp conditions!

  1. handle the emma’ effin’ BIZ j! this article is GREAT! woo-hoo!

    it’s much better than the research i was trying to squirrel together on the net…

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  2. thanks l! ;)
    you know i love my herbs and supplements! people struggle unnecessarily because some either don’t know or choose not to share this kind of information. there’s a lot of information out there, but i know what works for me/others i care about (without dangerous side effects). whether one chooses to follow these suggestions is of course his/her volition but i feel this information is helpful to those searching for an alternative.

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  3. Thank you so much for this post. I have got to have the worst scalp within a 500 mile radius. Im talking I ccould wash my hair saturday, by sunday afternoon I have big scaly, itchy patches. It sucks. My hair is in great condition, after a year of finally treating how it should be treated and itd growing like crazy. But im struggling with my scalp. Thanks for the tips and I hope it works for me.

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  4. really interesting to discover that neem oil is good for eczema. most of the stuff i’ve seen about ayurvedic herbs seems to be about detoxing and mild cleansing. i just looked up stuff about neem (i’ve tried everything else with varying levels of success) and discovered that Karanja oil is similar, but less stinky. Also, in the UK at least, there are several zinc-rich skin creams on the market, but they are marketed as baby products.

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  5. Wow, another UK viewer, Lita are you talking about E-45? Two of my friends love it. They will generally apply it really thickly at night and then a little less during the day.They both seem to have managed their eczema quite well though one has it on her face and the other on her legs. I don’t know if you could put it on the scalp??

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  6. i found you through another blogger…your blogs are very informative. However, where can I buy these products that you always mention. I’ve just started the whole “healthy natural hair” journey (I just wash and flat iron) so I don’t really know where to get stuff from.

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  7. Thanks for the response Lita, that’s quite interesting. I think when I’m next in town, I’ll check it out in boots. The boots site just says ‘contains active ingredients’. I don’t have eczema but I have dry hands from wearing gloves all day. I found E45 quite greasy (which is why my friends like it) but I want something a little lighter.

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  8. @ lady nele… start at your local health food store. it should have the majority of the products we discuss

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  9. Pls do not confuse dandruff-like condition and dandruff. You never put oil on a scalp that has dandruff. Never. The only oil that will not harm you ( apart from making you product more sebum maybe, witch you don't want) is jojoba oil because it is not a real oil. it is a wax ( see wikipedia). Pls read : http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2007/11/scientists-crac.html

    http://microbiology.suite101.com/article.cfm/malassezia_globosa

    http://www.ehrs.org/conferenceabstracts/2002brussels/researchabstracts/P-59-dawson.htm

    Wach your hair once a week with one of the medicated dandruff shampoo ( leave in for 10 min) . You can also use the Classic H&S conditionner and leave it in for 1h before you wach wiht a normal non shampoo. Do not put conditioner on your scalp or you will trigger the production of sebum. Mix jojoba and tea trea oil ( at least 5 % ) and put it on your scalp at the middle of the week ( instead of shampoing again cuz you normally have to shampoo twice a week with the medicated shampoo). I will try Neem oil and see how it works. Tx

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  10. sesse,
    since you brought up the topic of oils i will address it. all oils are not bad for dandruff.neem oil is a proven antibiotic and antifungal. so is tea tree oil and castor oil. remember there is no “cure” for acne, eczema or psoriasis. the medical community has acknowledged this. for acne, individuals are put on harsh drugs like accutane which damage the liver over time. and some doctors prescribe topical steroids (corticosteroids) for eczema and psoriasis which have extreme side effects. (http://www.skincarephysicians.com/eczemanet/steroids.html)

    the only possible side effects with tea tree oil and neem are localized sensitivity because of the potency of these oils, which is why i suggested using a little at a time. they can also be mixed with carrier oils. i know people who have tried these medications for years (including family members) for these skin conditions with no success. they turned to powerful oils like those i have mentioned (out of desperation) and have found relief. i do not ignore science, because that is my knowledge base, but i incorporate traditional healing methods where allopathic medicine is lacking. i did include a disclaimer with my advice, but sometimes we have to go back to basics and there is nothing wrong with that.

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