The Complete Guide To Black Hair Care for Eczema
Eczema is a condition where the skin becomes irritated, itchy, blisters, and even weeps in some cases. It can appear anywhere on the skin, including the scalp. And it's nothing to be ashamed of! According to National Eczema Association, 31.6 million people in the US suffer from eczema.
With this many people affected there are tons of treatments and options to help heal your skin and maintain it without eczema breakouts. It can be even more difficult to deal with if you have African American or Black hair. Kinky hair is more delicate and needs a gentler touch when working with it.
A lot of people who suffer from a flaky scalp end up visiting a dermatologist where they can be prescribed steroid creams, ointments, and even injections in severe cases. Some people even decide to use natural treatments like coconut oil to help with some of the symptoms like dryness.
If you haven't already been diagnosed with eczema, here are some tips to figuring out if you just have a flaky scalp or something more serious.
How Do I Know if I Have Eczema on My Scalp?
Eczema on the scalp is called seborrheic dermatitis, commonly known as dandruff. Sometimes this is mistaken for a dry scalp, but they both are caused by different issues. If you have a dry scalp, this is because you're not producing enough oils. It can be caused by cold weather, irritation from hair products, and old age.
Seborrheic dermatitis comes from the scalp producing too much oil. This leads to the cells on your scalp to shed quickly and fall off in flakes.
Characteristics of Scalp Eczema
- Greasy scalp
- Patches of inflamed skin
- Red or discolored parts of the scalp
- Very flaky
- Blisters or lesions that weep
- Uncontrollably itchy scalp
What is the Root Cause of Eczema?
With seborrheic dermatitis, the skin is overreacting to malassezia, a fungus that lives on the scalp. The scalp produces too much of it and then tries to fix it by shedding rapidly. The root cause of eczema is a person by person basis, where it can be anything from genetics, stress, or environmental factors.
Other causes for eczema include:
- Health or skin conditions (psoriasis, rosacea, etc)
- Super hot or cold climates
Depending on the cause of your eczema, there are many different approaches you can take to heal your scalp.
What Can I Use for Eczema in My Hair?
The most simple way to handle scalp eczema is by using dandruff shampoo. Since the uncomfortable, itchy flakes are caused by an excess amount of fungus, you should look for a shampoo that says antifungal and contains one of the following ingredients:
- Salicyclic acid
- Coal tar
- Zinc pyrithione
- Selenium sulfide
After continuous use of an antifungal shampoo, you should see a reduction in flakes and inflation of the scalp.
If the antifungal shampoo just isn't working, or if you know you'll need something a lot stronger to combat your scalp eczema, visit the dermatologist. They can take a look at your head and determine if you should try out a topical steroid.
It can come in the form of a shampoo or cream and will reduce all symptoms.
If you want to try out natural remedies before testing out any steroid creams, we got you!
- Aloe vera gel
- Apple cider vinegar (diluted with water in a spray bottle)
- Colloidal oatmeal
- Tea tree oil (diluted with water)
- Coconut oil
- Cade oil
These can all be applied before washing to help loosen up the flakes and soothe your scalp. Please proceed with caution before attempting to use any of these on your scalp and do your own due diligence on researching how they can affect your skin.
Other Ways to Treat Scalp Eczema
There are other ways one can treat their scalp eczema besides using a topical treatment. Since some of the other causes for eczema include diet, allergies, and stress we'll take an inside look at each one and how you can combat it.
Change your Diet
What you put into your body affects you whether you realize it or not. For some people, their eczema can be caused by certain foods they eat. Dairy is one food group that is known to cause frequent eczema breakouts.
It's important to listen to your body and even keep a food journal. If you have a day where your scalp is itching even more than usual, you can look at what you ate for the day and notice if there's something different on that list. If you ate a slice of cheese pizza the day you are extra itchy, but no cheese the day before, that could be a sign that your body is reacting to the cheese.
What foods are bad for eczema?
These are more specific foods that typically cause eczema flare-ups. However, everyone is different and other foods can affect you as well.
Look out for Contact Allergies
Shampoos, conditioners, and detergents are often the culprit for eczema breakouts. Since your conditioner and other hair care products come in contact with your scalp, it's important to check that they aren't heavily fragranced. This can irritate your skin even more and never allow it to heal.
As for the detergent, a fragrance-free version is needed because it comes into contact with your bedding and your bonnet. Both of these fabrics touch and rub against your scalp, so the fragrance from laundry detergent can cause scalp eczema flare-ups.
Manage your Stress
This is much easier said than done, but if stress is the cause of your eczema then you have to try to control it. You can try taking walks every day, exercising, journaling, etc. Find the solution that works best for you to control your stress and relax your mind.
Even just talking about your problems can be healing and offer some relief to your eczema issues.
How Do I Moisturize My Scalp with Eczema?
Unfortunately, breakage is a common problem for people with Black hair. So trying to moisturize your scalp and hair while also dealing with dandruff can be difficult. But, there are products that aren't heavily fragranced that you can still use to keep away the dryness.
Whether you like to moisturize your scalp before or after shampooing, there are a few different products to handle this if you have eczema:
- Moisturizing spray
- Hair and scalp mask
- Leave-in conditioner
- Scalp oil
Using products like these in your wash-day routine can keep your scalp happy and healthy.
Does Eczema Prevent Hair Growth?
Eczema causes uncontrollable itching, which can lead to damage to the scalp. If you continuously scratch your head until it bleeds, you risk damaging the hair follicles. This can make trying to grow your hair very difficult because you have to wait until the follicles are healed to see any results.
Any bald patches on your scalp or hair loss should be a temporary issue. Once your scalp eczema has cleared up, the hair should start growing again. To promote a healthy scalp and hair be sure to use a product that is designed for your specific African hair growth needs, like Allurium Beauty's hair serum.