Is Your Scalp Healthy Enough?

01-_MG_956020120425_MarkIantoscaPhotographed by Mark Iantosca.
Moisturizing our bodies is a must-do in our daily routines. And, we absolutely obsess over the skin on our faces. But, when it comes to the state of our scalp, most of us don’t give it much thought. After all, it’s (thankfully) made invisible by our other crown jewel — hair. Should we be paying more attention to what’s happening to the skin atop our head?
If your scalp isn’t bothering you, it’s probably fine to keep an out-of-sight-out-of-mind mentality. But, for those who contend with flaky, itchy domes or who are looking to accelerate hair growth, then scalp treatments can become an integral part of your routine.
According to California-based dermatologist Dr. Paradi Mirmirani, who specializes in hair loss and hair disorders, the mere awareness of how your scalp is feeling may indicate an imbalance. “We usually don’t think about our scalp. If you are thinking about it too much, there may be something that’s not right,” she says, pointing to things like itchiness, scaliness, or redness.
In addition to being head-scratchingly annoying, an inflamed scalp can also hamper healthy hair growth, according to Mirmirani. And, she says, by decreasing inflammation on the scalp, we might not only stimulate hair growth, but improve volume of the hair as well.
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If the skin on your head is giving you major grief, a trip to the derm will help determine whether atopic dermatitis (eczema) or seborrheic dermatitis (dandruff) is to blame. Your doctor can provide a targeted treatment plan. Usually, active ingredients found in anti-dandruff shampoos, like selenium sulfide, zinc pyrithione, ketoconazole, and coal tar can help keep flakage at bay. (Mirmirani says the condition tends to worsen in the winter.) Or, in the case of patients with eczema, a doctor may suggest a plant-rich diet and twice-weekly consumption of fatty fish to help address the imbalance, as Dr. Peter Lio, a Chicago-based dermatologist, prescribes to some of his patients.
For more minor scalp situations — a little bout of itchy or red scalp, for instance — try a witch hazel-based treatment such as Philip Kingsley Scalp Toner, which can provide comfort and/or absorb excess oil on the scalp.
And, if you’re looking to optimize the condition of your scalp, strengthen hair, boost volume, and help stimulate hair growth, then create an especially soothing and nourished environment for hair to grow. Reach for oil-based treatments with anti-inflammatory elements, like lemon and eucalyptus oils (found in Phyto Phytopolléine Botanical Scalp Treatment), or cedar leaf and rosemary essential oils (found in Ojon Damage Reverse Thickening Restorative Scalp Treatment), which have been shown to help subjects with hair loss in a U.K.-based study.
So, what are you waiting for? You only get one scalp — time to start treating it right.
Ojon Damage Reverse Thickening Restorative Scalp Treatment, $33, available at Sephora.

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