The human body is covered in microorganisms, 100 trillion of them to be exact. While the idea of archaea, bacteria, eukaryotes, and viruses living on your skin and in your organs may be unsettling at first, remember that these tiny colonizers, called your microbiome, are actually a vital part of your health. You have microbiomes all over your body, including on your scalp.
Microbiomes are made up of many different kinds of microorganisms, each with a very specific purpose that helps balance the habitat to keep both the microorganisms and you happy and healthy. If one kind of microorganism overpowers the rest, the balance of the microbiome is thrown off. These imbalances can damage the health of whatever is supported by the mini habitat.
If the microbiome on your scalp is damaged or imbalanced, it can wreak havoc on your scalp and hair, causing all kinds of issues from greasy hair and dandruff to seborrheic dermatitis and hair loss.
Unfortunately, lots of things can damage a scalp microbiome, including over-washing your hair, under-washing your hair, harsh products, and over-use of antibiotics.
The main reason your scalp’s microbiome can become imbalanced is over-washing. If you wash your hair too much, you can strip away some of the microorganisms and inhibit the growth of others, leaving your microbiome insufficient and imbalanced. Avoid washing your hair more than once a day.
Unfortunately, you can go too far in spreading out your washes. Not sufficiently removing the building-up oil and environmental dirt and grime can cause inflammation and clog hair follicles, which will disrupt your scalp microbiome. Wash your hair every other day with a nickel-sized squirt of shampoo. Gently massage the shampoo into your scalp and thoroughly rinse it out.
Lots of shampoos, conditioners, hair sprays, gels, and other hair products are made with some nasty ingredients that can do some serious damage to your scalp microbiome. Sulfates, for example, are hard-hitting detergents that can weaken hair follicles, cause scalp sensitivity and inflammation, and strip away natural oils. Avoid products with ingredients like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, and petroleum-based Phthalates.
Dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis are common skin conditions that are partially caused by a yeast-like fungus called Malassezia. This fungus occurs naturally on the scalp and is part of a healthy microbiome when balanced by helpful skin bacteria that feed off of the Malassezia.
Antibiotics are designed to kill dangerous bacteria, but sometimes when they’re over-used, they kill off the helpful bacteria that eat the Malassezia, allowing the fungus to multiply, which in turn throws off the microbiome balance and causes the oil glands to work overtime and the scalp skin cells to overgrow. Too much oil leads to the red, crusty, and oily rash associated with seborrheic dermatitis, and the excess skin cells clump together and flake off as dandruff.
Balance Your Microbiome
Avoiding these common causes of an unbalanced microbiome will help keep your scalp happy and your hair healthy. You can also try treating the symptoms with a medicated seborrheic dermatitis shampoo.
Dr. Eddie’s Happy Cappy Medicated Shampoo & Body Wash is a unique dandruff shampoo for kids that is fragrance, dye, sulfate, and alcohol-free and is made with the active ingredient, pyrithione zinc, which has been approved by the FDA and demonstrated by science to be safe and effective for relieving symptoms of dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis.