Best Shampoo For Dry Scalp

April 15, 2021.
Are you frequently scratching your head? Or do you avoid wearing dark colors for fear of white flakes dusting your shoulders? Having a dry scalp is normal all throughout life, but menopause can increase your risk for dry scalp and even hair thinning. Let’s take a look at why dry scalp menopause is even a thing and what is the best shampoo for dry scalp. A hint? The answer lies in the ingredients!
What’s up with dry itchy scalp menopause?
Hormone changes in menopause are notorious for causing some changes in your skin. Along with hormonal acne, it is normal to experience dryness, itching, and hair thinning. Most women will experience some degree of hair thinning after they reach menopause. (Regrettably, hair thickening starts to appear in places we would rather it not after menopause…). While the relationship is not fully understood, decreasing estrogen levels shrink the follicles of your individual hair strands, making your hair finer.  But changes in your hair go beyond the follicle and sometimes the problem also lies within your scalp. Falling estrogen levels pull moisture away from your skin, so your scalp and your hair become drier as you progress through menopause. Estrogen is partly responsible for strengthening the barrier function of your skin. When estrogen levels fall, you lose that protective barrier and the blood vessels in your skin become less effective at delivering oxygen and nutrients to your skin.  

What symptoms are associated with dry scalp perimenopause?

Sometimes, dry scalp is referred to interchangeably with dandruff. However, the two conditions differ in a few key ways, including how you manage it. Dandruff is caused by too much oil in your skin whereas dry scalp is when your skin lacks moisture. Symptoms of dandruff include red, scaly patches on your head, accompanied by itching and flaking.

Symptoms of dry skin include:

  • Small white flakes
  • Itching
  • Having dry skin on other parts of your body
Unlike dandruff, which requires daily washing with a medicated shampoo to reduce oil, a dry scalp requires a gentle shampoo followed by a moisturizing treatment with a hair conditioner. 

When does dry scalp stop with menopause?

Unfortunately, dry scalp is not likely to go away on its own once you have passed through menopause and are in postmenopause. As we age, both men and women experience drier skin. Therefore, the best way to manage a dry scalp is to use the best shampoo for dry scalp, drink plenty of water, and reduce factors that may further dry out your skin.

What is the best shampoo for dry itchy scalp?

The best shampoos for dry itchy scalp contain ingredients that are highly moisturizing. Look for a sulfate-free shampoo that contains any of the following moisturizing agents:
  • Morrocan oil
  • Shea butter
  • Coconut oil
  • Olive oil
  • Apple cider vinegar
The above moisturizers can be great when used in their pure form to add moisture to your scalp and hair. Consider leaving it on your hair and scalp overnight to get a deep moisturizing treatment. You may also want to search for a shampoo that is specifically for sensitive skin that does not have:
  • Dyes
  • Fragrances
  • Formaldehyde
  • Sulfates 
  • Other chemicals that may be drying
Finally, if you are struggling with a dry itchy scalp caused by something more than just lack of moisture, you may benefit from using a shampoo with tea tree oil, as it has antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties that can remove dead skin cells and soothe your skin from itching.

What about the best shampoo for dry scalp and hair loss?

Hair loss is common in menopause. If you are concerned about hair thinning, it is good to check in with your doctor. Sometimes, hair thinning or hair loss can be a sign that something else is off, such as your thyroid. If your hair loss is related to menopause, there are several shampoos on the market aimed at treating hair loss in women.  Look for a shampoo that strengthens your existing hair follicles while nourishing your scalp. Examples of best shampoos for hair loss in women include: If you have a dry scalp accompanied by redness and larger flakes, it may be helpful to see your doctor to make sure you are using the right products. Sometimes, flaking can be caused by skin conditions like psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis. These conditions can be more challenging to treat and will not be improved without the use of a medicated shampoo product.  Disclaimer: This is not medical advice, does not take the place of medical advice from your physician, and is not intended to treat or cure any disease. Patients should see a qualified medical provider for assessment and treatment. perry may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.

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Julia Walker
perry expert Julia (RN, BSN, BA) is a registered nurse based in Colorado. Julia's nursing background in women’s health has ranged from neonatal and postpartum care to labor and delivery, to outpatient gynecological medicine for both adolescent and adult populations. She specializes in helping women optimize their health during perimenopause and beyond.

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