Each strand of hair derives its nutrition and strength from the hair roots or follicles on your scalp. When the scalp is undernourished and uncared for, issues such as hair loss and damage will arise.
We have laid out 5 key attributes of a healthy scalp. We’ll also share some nutritional advice on how to keep your scalp and hair nourished from inside out.
How to Tell If You Have a Healthy Scalp
Your scalp, just like other parts of your body, will have indications if it’s
1. Even skin tone
Like the skin on your body, the texture and
2. A normal amount of shedding
Excessive hair fall, however, can be a sign of too much stress. It could also be due to a medical condition or hormonal imbalance such as polycysctic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Symptoms of thyroid disorder, for example, often show up in your skin, nails, and hair. Hairstyles like ponytails that pull on your hair and scalp too hard can also be a culprit.
Be concerned if you see clumps of hair on the floor or in your hairbrush. This signals weak hair roots. Your hair follicles may lack oxygen and nutrition, rendering them unable to maintain strong roots.
3. Absence of flakes
A healthy scalp should be free of flakes. White, crumbly flakes indicate dandruff, caused by seborrheic dermatitis. This is when your skin reacts to an overgrowth of bacteria on the scalp.
Patches of inflamed and thickened scales, on the other hand, could be eczema or psoriasis. Eczema is a chronic skin condition that causes inflammation and irritation. Meanwhile, psoriasis is caused by an auto-immune condition in which your skin regenerates new cells too quickly.
4. Not too dry and not too oily
A healthy scalp has follicles that produce just enough sebum to keep your hair moisturised and healthy. A dry scalp could mean a lack of sebum while an oily scalp means there’s too much sebum being produced. A sebum imbalance could be caused by internal health issues. Sometimes, it could also be your scalp’s reaction to too frequent or not enough hair washing.
5. No itching
The most common cause of an itchy scalp is an inflammatory skin condition called seborrheic dermatitis. This condition can result from seasonal changes, stress, or hormonal imbalance. Certain ingredients in hair products such as sulphates and parabens can also irritate the skin, causing itchiness.
If your itchy scalp lasts longer than a week or is accompanied by sores and pain, you should see your doctor as it may require medical treatment.
Nutritional Considerations for Healthy Scalp and Hair
Nutritional deficiencies can negatively impact scalp health. Vitamin A, vitamin C, probiotics, iron, zinc, biotin, and omega-3 fatty acids are particularly important for scalp and hair health. Consume a balanced diet of eggs, dark green vegetables, lean meat, fish, nuts, and seeds.
Achieve a Healthy Scalp Using Traditional Chinese Medicine methods
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Physician Wong Si Xuan shares that a flaky scalp could be one of several different pathologies:
- Flaky scalp with skin redness: Caused by Heat toxins
- Flaky scalp with red and itchy rashes: Caused by Wind and Heat
- Flaky and oily scalp: Caused by Wind and Dampness
- Flaky with a dry and pale scalp: Caused by Wind and Liver Blood Deficiency
“These pathologies arise from pressure-cooker work stress, poor work-life balance, unhealthy dietary habits, prolonged and direct exposure to air-conditioning on the head, and regular usage of harsh chemical hair products,” she explains.
Fortunately, TCM offers modalities including herbal medicine that can help correct these imbalances. Chinese knotweed (he shou wu, 何首乌) and Chinese Angelica root (dang gui, 当归), for example, are among the herbs used in TCM formulations for hair growth.
A 2015 study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine demonstrated that Chinese knotweed promotes hair growth activities in animal models. Specifically, the study showed that this herb influences certain growth factor molecules on your scalp. Another study published in 2014 in The American Journal of Chinese Medicine similarly demonstrated the efficacy of Chinese Angelica root in hair regrowth.
Real Health Medical Senior TCM Physician Brandon Yew recommends the following herbs to ease issues and promote a healthy scalp:
- Qiang Huo Sheng Shi Tang (羌活胜湿汤): Dispels Wind and Dampness; suitable for flaky and oily scalp
- Si Miao Yong An Tang (四妙勇安汤): Regenerates Liver blood, cools the blood and dissipates clots, neutralises Heat toxins; suitable for flaky scalp with redness
- Xiao Feng San (消风散): Dispels Wind and Heat; suitable for flaky scalp with red and itchy rashes
- Dang Gui Yin Zi (当归饮子): Regenerates Liver blood, promotes blood circulation to dispel Wind; suitable for a flaky, dry, and pale scalp
Be sure to seek the advice of a qualified TCM physician prior to taking any of the above herbal formulations to ensure their safety and effectiveness.
A healthy scalp is a guarantee of healthy beautiful hair and it also says a lot about your internal health. Be sure to nurture and care for it like any other part of your body.
- Cleveland Clinic. 2022. The Best Vitamins and Supplements for Hair Growth. [Accessed 6 September 2022]
- HairScientists.org. Nutrition and Hair Health. [Accessed 6 September 2022]
- American Academy of Dermatology Association. Thyroid Disease: A Checklist of Skin, Hair, and Nail Changes. [Accessed 6 September 2022]
- Cleveland Clinic. 2020. Seborrheic Dermatitis. [Accessed 6 September 2022]
- Cleveland Clinic. 2022. Eczema or Psoriasis? How To Tell the Difference. [Accessed 6 September 2022]
- American Academy of Dermatology Association. 10 Reasons Your Scalp Itches and How to Get Relief. [Accessed 6 September 2022]
- Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2015. Hair Growth Promotion Activity and Its Mechanism of Polygonum multiflorum. [Accessed 6 September 2022]
- The American Journal of Chinese Medicine. 2014. Angelica Sinensis Induces Hair Regrowth via the Inhibition of Apoptosis Signaling. [Accessed 6 September 2022]
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