HomeSkincareHow to Remove Scalp Buildup, According to Dermatologists

How to Remove Scalp Buildup, According to Dermatologists

Use a Medicated Shampoo

If you have already tried addressing your buildup at home or start experiencing symptoms like burning or itching, it’s time to consult a dermatologist to determine the cause. “If you have tried washing regularly, using a clarifying shampoo, and minimizing products that can cause build up, and you still experience build up, seeing a dermatologist can help,” says Rubin. “If you have what feels like ‘patches’ of buildup, areas of scalp redness, large ‘flakes’ or significant itching it is best to see a dermatologist to rule out seborrheic dermatitis or another skin condition.”

A common source of the buildup (and in turn itching, redness, or irritation) is overgrowth of a common-occurring fungus on your scalp called malassezia furfur, explains Karen. “In a healthy scalp with normal skin, dead skin cells shed constantly as new ones grow,” she says. “The sloughing off of dead skin cells usually goes unnoticed, the particles are tiny and the process doesn’t cause any visible flakes or irritation. The lifecycle of skin cells on the scalp is usually around a month. In people with dandruff, for example, this process happens at an accelerated rate and with more destructive results. An overgrowth of malassezia is commonly thought to be fueling this rapid skin growth cycle which in turn leads to buildup.”

In these cases, a dermatologist will be able to determine the cause of your discomfort, and ultimately a treatment. A medicated shampoo may be the best course of treatment for conditions such as dandruff. Your dermatologist may prescribe a specific one, typically with zinc pyrithione. Karen recommends the Jupiter Balancing Shampoo, which uses the zinc pyrithione to get at the root of flaking and ultimately control oil production on the scalp.

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