Scalp and its composition
Your scalp is your cranium's actual shield; composed of soft tissue layers, it is a composition of superficial epidermis and dermis, under which there is hypodermis or subcutaneous adipose tissue. The dermis holds the hair bulbs, also known as hair follicles, intact; the superficial epidermis, i.e., the layer you can feel, protects the body from external influences.
Mainly four cells together form the epidermis or epithelial; the most important one of these four is the keratinocytes. They are produced in the basal layer, which is the deepest, however as they age, they move towards the uppermost layer having keratin- an essential protein found in hair.
Your scalp comprises five significant layers: the skin, the connective tissue layer, the galea aponeurotica, the loose areolar connective tissue, and lastly, the pericranium. Within the connective tissue layer, there are nerves and lymphatics- this layer is connected to galea aponeurotica to prevent excessive stretching of the scalp. Moreover, the connective tissue bifurcates the first three layers of the scalp from the rest, thus enabling skin movement.
Hair scalp anatomy
The hair follicles are found on the topmost layer of the scalp, i.e., the skin; however, some of these follicles could also extend deep into the connective tissue layer. These follicles are composed of different layers of cells that form the hair shaft- which is your hair. Approximately one hundred thousand hair follicles are on the scalp, with no significant difference between the number of follicles found in men and women. Hair follicles receive the required amount of sebum from the gland they are connected to, one of which is the sebaceous gland. This ensures that the hair and the scalp are both lubricated well. Any imbalances, i.e., excess or shortage of the same, will result in dry or excessively oily scalp. Apart from that, several capillaries are also present in the scalp, providing the hair with the nourishment they need through blood.
Medical and generic scalp problems
Regular dandruff is easily developable in people who do not prioritize a clean scalp. However,
it can develop as a serious medical issue for people with amplified production of epidermal cells. In this situation, the scalp could get all flaky and develop inflammable patches resulting from microbes. If left untreated, this condition could worsen and turn into seborrheic dermatitis- unlike dandruff, in seborrheic dermatitis, you can see patches and redness beyond your scalp near your forehead or nose and ear as well.
Another pathological scalp condition that causes extreme inflammation is a result of the imbalance of production of radicals and antioxidant defenses along with Malassezia. Approximately 2% of the entire population suffers from psoriasis, primarily genetic. One could notice plaques covered with grey scales. However, it is initially challenging to differentiate between these plaques and common dandruff; as its severity increases, the lesion could appear quite similar to those of seborrheic dermatitis. Tar shampoo is one way to treat psoriasis but might not be effective for all.
Inflammatory scalp happens here too, and this condition could develop for many reasons, including genetics, external influences like environment, the disparity in the immune system, and more. Also known as atopic eczema, millions of people throughout the globe suffer from it. The worst is the third stage, i.e., chronic atopic dermatitis, where lichenification could develop due to excessive scratching.
The aging of the scalp is similar to aging in general. While with time, external influences will also leave behind some damage, internal factors cause issues like greying hair and decreased hair growth. Aging can also cause the scalp to become dry as the sebum production decreases. Specifically to those who have experienced hair loss during their lives, the scalp could also appear wrinkly and pigmented. However, this is entirely subjective, and the process's duration and pattern cannot be anticipated for every person.
In layman's terms, one can describe this condition as a hair infection caused by a dermatophyte, a fungus that grows on keratin protein found in hair. Although this was initially found in preteen children, women who have reached menopause are prone to this condition too. Unfortunately, this disease is contagious and can be spread through human or animal contact. Usually, tinea capitis is either extremely inflammatory or not inflammatory at all. It can cause significant damage to the hair cuticles and also cause breakages. In some states, griseofulvin is the recommended treatment for this scalp condition. However, secondary options like itraconazole and terbinafine are also available.
Most common in college or school-going children, it is caused due to influx of head louses, also known as lice. Symptoms usually include excessive itchiness after a few weeks of influx- delayed treatment can trigger infections too. Usually, this is treated through topical measures; however, oral treatment can also be given depending on the severity of the case.
How to maintain a healthy scalp?
You should know by now why maintaining a healthy scalp is essential and how neglecting it can cause you trouble. So if you are on the same page with us, we're sure you'd want to know ways you can keep that scalp all clean and healthy- let's see how you can do right by your scalp!
1.Hair care products-
While several promising and fancy products are available in the market, you must take a minute to judge the ingredient list. Products with sulfates, parabens, dimethicone, and artificial fragrances in them are usually harmful to your hair, and it's best to keep your paws off them. Using these ingredients can leave you with a dry scalp which is not good as the scalp requires natural moisture.
Washing too often can also strip them from the natural moisture that it holds. If you have a dry scalp, taking a hair wash every three days should work fine. You might have to do it more often with an oily scalp, but try to avoid it if possible.
Some people choose to go the extra mile and prefer taking supplements to maintain their scalp so that they can skip the rest. Some people prefer taking omega-3 supplements for scalp nourishment. However, there are very few studies that suggest the same.
Oxidative stress is terrible as it can impact your scalp's health significantly. Try to incorporate food in your diet high in antioxidants so you can stay on the safer side.
Home remedies for healthy hair
All those medical treatments and supplements in the market might not work for all, and not everyone can afford them. So is there any organic way out for you from this problem? Sure there is! Many home remedies have worked for several people and could give you positive results. Let's explore some of them.
Coconut oil has been medically proven to be an effective moisturizer for all skin types. Massaging your scalp regularly with coconut oil will give you a healthy scalp free of dandruff and flakes. It is applied topically and is beneficial in keeping your scalp free from head lice and their eggs.
2.Tea tree oil-
Tea tree oil has antimicrobial properties and is thus helpful for people with dandruff. It also has antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties that help keep your scalp free from any such infections. Medically it is proven safe and is also recommended as an effective way of maintaining a healthy scalp.
Aloe vera is that elixir that helps you with physical ailments, aids scalp conditions, and promotes hair growth. It does so by increasing the blood flow in the scalp and maintaining your scalp's Ph balance.
Some studies show that regularly massaging your scalp with olive oil can help with scales and control unnecessary hair shedding and breakages. It can also stimulate hair growth and prevent microbial infections.
Pressing upon moisture even more, avocado oil is another natural remedy for dry, flaky, and itchy scalp. It can also reduce inflammation significantly if used constantly.
Food to maintain a healthy scalp
What you use topically obviously helps, but your hair is a lot of what you eat too. So make sure you check out this list of essential food items that are good for your scalp
Whichever way you treat your scalp problems, eating healthy and giving a shot at those home remedies will never really disappoint. One can easily do both and choose what works best for them with time, but remember, scalp problems are not to ignore!