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View Full Version : Scalp troubleshooting help PLEASE!



Alexa
February 27th, 2015, 06:04 PM
A while back, I started trying to stretch washes from every other day to...longer. I started to notice some tiny flakes and itchiness around day 3, sometimes sooner. I wasn't sure if it was:

1) Allergy/sensitivity to products
2) Dandruff
3) Dry scalp (my skin, in general, has been getting increasingly dry over the last few years)

I was pretty sure that my least flaky/itchy days happened when I used my shampoo bar (I have other SLS-free shampoos I rotate through), so last night I tried using just it and a white vinegar rinse (1 tsp to 1 cup water), with no other conditioners or stylers, as a starting place for narrowing down which product(s) might be making me itchy. However, my scalp is itchy and quite flaky less than 24 hours later, which is very unusual for me this soon after a wash!

Could it be the shampoo bar? It has actually been quite helpful in treating my husband's dandruff, so I thought it was safe. Or the vinegar rinse? Or does my scalp need to adjust somehow? Here are the ingredients for the shampoo bar:

Peppermint Tea Tree Soap Organic
Ingredients: saponified organic vegetable oils (including organic palm, organic extra virgin olive, organic coconut oil and organic sunflower oil), natural essential oil blend, peppermint leaves, rosemary extract and/or vitamin e

I went SLS- and 'cone-free a few years ago, and my hair loves it. I thought my scalp did, too, and remember when I switched thinking it felt much less dry/tight. I would love to find a simple routine that works for both my hair and scalp. Any suggestions? THANK YOU!

Arctic
February 27th, 2015, 06:16 PM
So you have used this particular shampoo bar before? And you have been rinsing well after washing?

And this wasn't your first vinegar rinse? You have made the vinegar rinse about the same dilution before too?

And your scalp is not producing much oil, but is more dry? Or oily but dry (as in oily but not moisturized)?

And when you washed more often, your scalp didn't itch and/or flake?

Since you went SLS free, have you clarified your hair/scalp after that? I was thinking if a some sort of scalp scrub would help, if there is some build-up accumulated on the scalp.


I have to say I have no personal experience with shampoo bars or dry hair/scalp. But I do have sensitive scalp, that did not like stretching washes at all.

arr
February 27th, 2015, 06:20 PM
Essential oils such as peppermint, citrus and tea tree can be irritating to some people's skin. Maybe there is a high concentration in your shampoo bar? For me, if I can feel a tingle, it is irritating my skin. Though it's not just essential oils, many are also sensitive to synthetic fragrances. I can't use many of the highly scented Suave Naturals shampoos or Herbal Essences or my scalp becomes sore and itchy.

endlessly
February 27th, 2015, 06:23 PM
Well, the unfortunate thing is that allergies and sensitivities to products can develop over time, so what has always worked for you in the past could potentially become an irritant to your skin. That being said, did you do anything else out of the ordinary besides just stretching wash days? Has there been any drastic climate changes where you live? Sometimes colder weather can make the skin drier - even the scalp - and cause the itching and flakiness.

On a more personal note, I do understand exactly what you're going through, however, I have eczema patches in my scalp, so that's the root of my problem. Best of luck getting everything sorted out!

meteor
February 27th, 2015, 06:30 PM
Could it be the shampoo bar? It has actually been quite helpful in treating my husband's dandruff, so I thought it was safe. Or the vinegar rinse? Or does my scalp need to adjust somehow? Here are the ingredients for the shampoo bar:

Peppermint Tea Tree Soap Organic
Ingredients: saponified organic vegetable oils (including organic palm, organic extra virgin olive, organic coconut oil and organic sunflower oil), natural essential oil blend, peppermint leaves, rosemary extract and/or vitamin e

It could be - possibly indirectly, due to alkalinity of soap. Alkaline products can temporarily disrupt the acid mantle of the skin and inhibit barrier function of the skin. Usually, the skin bounces back pretty quickly, but things can go awry, since more alkaline products are drying to skin and also don't inhibit bacterial overgrowth (the way normal acidic environment on skin generally does).

Another risk factor is the essential oils: unfortunately, they can be irritating to skin and you could develop a sensitivity to one or more of them.

I'd go back to shampoo (with hair-friendly pH) with a simple formulation, without irritants like fragrant oils and preferably fragrance-free. If the problem persists, I'd try dandruff shampoos and then I'd go see a doctor.

Alexa
February 27th, 2015, 06:50 PM
So you have used this particular shampoo bar before? And you have been rinsing well after washing?

I've been using it for years now, rotating with other shampoos. I always rinse extremely well.


And this wasn't your first vinegar rinse? You have made the vinegar rinse about the same dilution before too?

It wasn't my first vinegar rinse, but I haven't used them frequently, because I have always used conditioner before, and conditioner + vinegar rinse over-conditioned my hair (made it "squishy" and limp). That makes sense since conditioner is acidic, smoothing the cuticle in the same way as the vinegar rinse. It had never seemed to bother my scalp before, but, again, that was in combination with conditioner.


And your scalp is not producing much oil, but is more dry? Or oily but dry (as in oily but not moisturized)?

My scalp definitely produces oil! My trouble with stretching washes has been oily hair near the scalp, and since my hair is so fine and thin, it's very apparent. But I remember it feeling tight and dry before going SLS-free. That was several years ago now, though.


And when you washed more often, your scalp didn't itch and/or flake?

I don't recall it doing so, but I'm not 100% sure. I do know it has never been as bad as it is today.


Since you went SLS free, have you clarified your hair/scalp after that? I was thinking if a some sort of scalp scrub would help, if there is some build-up accumulated on the scalp.

How do you define clarifying? I always thought most clarifying shampoos have SLS. I use this (http://www.curljunkie.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=CAGCS12) shampoo regularly in my rotation. Maybe it counts?

Alexa
February 27th, 2015, 06:54 PM
Well, the unfortunate thing is that allergies and sensitivities to products can develop over time, so what has always worked for you in the past could potentially become an irritant to your skin. That being said, did you do anything else out of the ordinary besides just stretching wash days? Has there been any drastic climate changes where you live? Sometimes colder weather can make the skin drier - even the scalp - and cause the itching and flakiness.

On a more personal note, I do understand exactly what you're going through, however, I have eczema patches in my scalp, so that's the root of my problem. Best of luck getting everything sorted out!

I did notice the itchiness/flakiness more as winter got going. But I haven't (until today) done anything else out of the ordinary.

And thank you!

Alexa
February 27th, 2015, 06:57 PM
Essential oils such as peppermint, citrus and tea tree can be irritating to some people's skin. Maybe there is a high concentration in your shampoo bar? For me, if I can feel a tingle, it is irritating my skin. Though it's not just essential oils, many are also sensitive to synthetic fragrances. I can't use many of the highly scented Suave Naturals shampoos or Herbal Essences or my scalp becomes sore and itchy.

It's possible that the concentration is high, although the bar has only a very slight scent, so I would be surprised. I have to beware of strong fragrances in general because they give me a headache! BUT, I would happily switch to something without EOs in it if they are the problem!

Arctic
February 27th, 2015, 06:58 PM
My main point with the clarifying was your scalp. I was theorizing if there might have some kind of permanend film on your scalp, if you have only used very gentle cleansing.

The shampoo you posted looks like it's super gentle. I personally, based on the ingredients wouldn't call it clarifying. I probably couldn't use it myself at all, my scalp demands sulphates and more through cleaning. I wouldn't call even normal sulphate shampoo clarifying, only shampoos sold as clarifying shampoos are actually clarifying in my experience, in my hair/scalp. BUt I know many here don't share my view :)

Maybe you could try a brown sugar scalp scrub or something similar?

Alexa
February 27th, 2015, 07:06 PM
It could be - possibly indirectly, due to alkalinity of soap. Alkaline products can temporarily disrupt the acid mantle of the skin and inhibit barrier function of the skin. Usually, the skin bounces back pretty quickly, but things can go awry, since more alkaline products are drying to skin and also don't inhibit bacterial overgrowth (the way normal acidic environment on skin generally does).

Another risk factor is the essential oils: unfortunately, they can be irritating to skin and you could develop a sensitivity to one or more of them.

I'd go back to shampoo (with hair-friendly pH) with a simple formulation, without irritants like fragrant oils and preferably fragrance-free. If the problem persists, I'd try dandruff shampoos and then I'd go see a doctor.

I would happily try this, but how would I know what the pH of my shampoos are?

meteor
February 27th, 2015, 07:12 PM
I would happily try this, but how would I know what the pH of my shampoos are?

If you go back to commercial shampoo, I wouldn't worry about that too much: most shampoos and other commercial hair products are hair&scalp ph-friendly these days, it's the alternative washing methods (soaps, baking soda, etc) that can be problematic from that point of view.
Here is a list of shampoos with pH that might be of interest: http://www.thenaturalhavenbloom.com/2012/02/ph-of-shampoo-ultimate-list.html

Arctic
February 27th, 2015, 07:18 PM
In Finland the pH is written on the bottle. Not every shampoo bottle has it, mind you. It's a selling point, and products that are of hair/skin friendly pH are sure to mention it. If it's not the same where you live, you might be able to find the information from internet, or the very last method you could test it yourself with litmus paper test.

lapushka
February 27th, 2015, 07:20 PM
A while back, I started trying to stretch washes from every other day to...longer. I started to notice some tiny flakes and itchiness around day 3, sometimes sooner. I wasn't sure if it was:

1) Allergy/sensitivity to products
2) Dandruff
3) Dry scalp (my skin, in general, has been getting increasingly dry over the last few years)

I don't vote for 1) because you'd have noticed straight after washing, 2) also would probably be apparent sooner, 3) not possible as by day 3 the sebum from your scalp would have made the scalp less dry.

I think it's from stretching. If I stretch too far, my seborrheic dermatitis flares up like no tomorrow. It's a little like cradle cap, only the more adult version.

I would get a shampoo called Nizoral and I would think it is something like SD.

Alexa
February 27th, 2015, 07:27 PM
I don't vote for 1) because you'd have noticed straight after washing, 2) also would probably be apparent sooner, 3) not possible as by day 3 the sebum from your scalp would have made the scalp less dry.

I think it's from stretching. If I stretch too far, my seborrheic dermatitis flares up like no tomorrow. It's a little like cradle cap, only the more adult version.

I would get a shampoo called Nizoral and I would think it is something like SD.

But what about today? I literally washed yesterday afternoon, and woke up this morning itchy and flaky. That's not really stretching! And that's worse than usual, even for when I was trying to stretch.

lapushka
February 27th, 2015, 07:30 PM
But what about today? I literally washed yesterday afternoon, and woke up this morning itchy and flaky. That's not really stretching! And that's worse than usual, even for when I was trying to stretch.

Once I have an SD flare-up, it doesn't go away until I wash with Nizoral. So it does come from stretching too far, but then... you're pretty much stuck with it and the flakes and itchies won't go until you treat it. Make sense? :)

gwenalyn
February 28th, 2015, 11:47 AM
It could absolutely be dandruff. I have dandruff and when I stretch too far the white flakes appear. I'm not certain that I have dandruff from the fungal growth (true dandruff) or just from dry skin. I, too, have very dry skin, like you mentioned in your first post. I wash with Head&Shoulders once every 6 days (my only shampoo) and it's kept the flakes away really well. Not sure about an SLS-free alternative though. You might start with a dandruff shampoo more frequently until the dandruff goes away, then try twice a week, then once a week, interspersing your preferred shampoo however often you like to wash your hair.

BTW, peppermint, in particular, is a very irritating ingredient for many people--even people without allergies or anything. People like it because it feels cool and tingly but it might actually be doing bad things for their skin :rolleyes:. (For example, the original Burt's Bees feels awesome, but is probably not good for most people's lips.)

Scarlet_Celt
February 28th, 2015, 12:11 PM
Essential oils such as peppermint, citrus and tea tree can be irritating to some people's skin. Maybe there is a high concentration in your shampoo bar? For me, if I can feel a tingle, it is irritating my skin. Though it's not just essential oils, many are also sensitive to synthetic fragrances. I can't use many of the highly scented Suave Naturals shampoos or Herbal Essences or my scalp becomes sore and itchy.

I second this. Fragrance on my scalp can be a big problem.

meteor
February 28th, 2015, 12:32 PM
It could absolutely be dandruff. I have dandruff and when I stretch too far the white flakes appear. I'm not certain that I have dandruff from the fungal growth (true dandruff) or just from dry skin. I, too, have very dry skin, like you mentioned in your first post. I wash with Head&Shoulders once every 6 days (my only shampoo) and it's kept the flakes away really well. Not sure about an SLS-free alternative though. You might start with a dandruff shampoo more frequently until the dandruff goes away, then try twice a week, then once a week, interspersing your preferred shampoo however often you like to wash your hair.

BTW, peppermint, in particular, is a very irritating ingredient for many people--even people without allergies or anything. People like it because it feels cool and tingly but it might actually be doing bad things for their skin :rolleyes:. (For example, the original Burt's Bees feels awesome, but is probably not good for most people's lips.)

Absolutely. :agree: Peppermint is both antimicrobial and irritating. I'd quote Paula Begoun on peppermint:
"Both the oil and the extract can have antimicrobial properties (Source: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, July 2002, pages 39433946), but they can also have an irritating, sensitizing effect on skin. Peppermint oil is a more potent irritant than, say, peppermint water. Peppermint is a common cause of allergic contact dermatitis on the face, particularly around the mouth, as peppermint is used as a flavoring in countless toothpastes (Sources: International Journal of Risk and Safety in Medicine, January 2012, pages 147-161; Dermatitis , November-December 2010, pages 327-329; and www.naturaldatabase.com)."
More on skin irritation: http://www.paulaschoice.com/expert-advice/sensitive-skin/_/skin-irritation-your-worst-enemy

That's why I recommended up-thread a fragrance-free shampoo with a non-irritating, simple formula... and if after a short while things don't improve, a good anti-dandruff shampoo, ideally something like Regenepure or Nizoral, would be my next step.
If you want SLS-free, Regenepure is a great bet.
Regenepure has multiple products, and this one would probably be appropriate: http://www.regenepure.com/regenepure-dr-doctor-recommended.html
(Key Ingredients: Ketoconazole - Saw Palmetto - Emu Oil - Niacin Vitamin B3 - Caffeine - Vitamin B6 - L-Pathenol - Linolenic Acid - Jojoba Oil - Zinc Oxide)

Alexa
February 28th, 2015, 01:49 PM
Once I have an SD flare-up, it doesn't go away until I wash with Nizoral. So it does come from stretching too far, but then... you're pretty much stuck with it and the flakes and itchies won't go until you treat it. Make sense? :)

Yes, it does, thank you for the additional explanation!

Alexa
February 28th, 2015, 01:55 PM
It could absolutely be dandruff. I have dandruff and when I stretch too far the white flakes appear. I'm not certain that I have dandruff from the fungal growth (true dandruff) or just from dry skin. I, too, have very dry skin, like you mentioned in your first post. I wash with Head&Shoulders once every 6 days (my only shampoo) and it's kept the flakes away really well. Not sure about an SLS-free alternative though. You might start with a dandruff shampoo more frequently until the dandruff goes away, then try twice a week, then once a week, interspersing your preferred shampoo however often you like to wash your hair.

BTW, peppermint, in particular, is a very irritating ingredient for many people--even people without allergies or anything. People like it because it feels cool and tingly but it might actually be doing bad things for their skin :rolleyes:. (For example, the original Burt's Bees feels awesome, but is probably not good for most people's lips.)

Someone gave me a tube of that Bert's Bees with peppermint and after a few uses I decided it was making my lips sore. Now I know why!

Alexa
February 28th, 2015, 01:58 PM
I second this. Fragrance on my scalp can be a big problem.

I'm wondering if this could be my problem. If I had a reaction to peppermint or tea tree oil, etc. I assume it might take a while to heal, right? Like any other skin reaction? Just wondering how long I might notice itching/flakes after the reaction, even if I'm not making it worse any more.

meteor
February 28th, 2015, 02:04 PM
^ If it's just an irritation, it will get better and better with time, give it a few days - and cut out any exposure to the irritant, of course. ;)

Alexa
February 28th, 2015, 02:08 PM
Absolutely. :agree: Peppermint is both antimicrobial and irritating. I'd quote Paula Begoun on peppermint:
"Both the oil and the extract can have antimicrobial properties (Source: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, July 2002, pages 3943–3946), but they can also have an irritating, sensitizing effect on skin. Peppermint oil is a more potent irritant than, say, peppermint water. Peppermint is a common cause of allergic contact dermatitis on the face, particularly around the mouth, as peppermint is used as a flavoring in countless toothpastes (Sources: International Journal of Risk and Safety in Medicine, January 2012, pages 147-161; Dermatitis , November-December 2010, pages 327-329; and www.naturaldatabase.com)."
More on skin irritation: http://www.paulaschoice.com/expert-advice/sensitive-skin/_/skin-irritation-your-worst-enemy

That's why I recommended up-thread a fragrance-free shampoo with a non-irritating, simple formula... and if after a short while things don't improve, a good anti-dandruff shampoo, ideally something like Regenepure or Nizoral, would be my next step.
If you want SLS-free, Regenepure is a great bet.
Regenepure has multiple products, and this one would probably be appropriate: http://www.regenepure.com/regenepure-dr-doctor-recommended.html
(Key Ingredients: Ketoconazole - Saw Palmetto - Emu Oil - Niacin Vitamin B3 - Caffeine - Vitamin B6 - L-Pathenol - Linolenic Acid - Jojoba Oil - Zinc Oxide)

Thanks to everyone who has posted such helpful info here! I was so itchy last night, I went ahead and washed with my Gentle Cleansing Shampoo (the one I linked to in my post above) last night, because it seemed like the safest of what I had. The only other shampoos I have in the house are Aubrey Organic GPB shampoo (I accidentally ordered when I meant to get the conditioner, and have been using it to clean brushes. Based on the shampoo pH link meteor posted above, it looks like it's alkaline, so I won't be using that!) and some California Baby Super Sensitive shampoo (it doesn't have fragrances, but I'm not sure about its pH, and I know baby shampoos can be less acidic because of babies' eyes, so I'm nervous to try it). In any case, the itchies/flakies seem better today, which is a relief, but if they keep up, I will definitely try a treatment shampoo as so many of you have recommended!

Alexa
February 28th, 2015, 02:24 PM
Here's a theoretical question: if citrus EOs are irritation, would a lemon juice rinse (a la this thread (http://forums.longhaircommunity.com/showthread.php?t=53745)) be irritating as well? Or would it be diluted enough to be OK? Just curious.

meteor
February 28th, 2015, 02:25 PM
^ Yay! :joy: If it's already getting better so quickly, then you are doing it right! ;)
I'd stick to the product that's working now. :)

meteor
February 28th, 2015, 02:28 PM
Here's a theoretical question: if citrus EOs are irritation, would a lemon juice rinse (a la this thread (http://forums.longhaircommunity.com/showthread.php?t=53745)) be irritating as well? Or would it be diluted enough to be OK? Just curious.

Lemon juice's ph is around 2 (even lower than ACV's), so it has to be diluted A LOT. It also has potential to lighten hair.
Careful with diluted lemon juice on scalp/skin, too - it's very photosensitizing even when diluted.