Sebborrheic dermatitis can occur anywhere on the body that has a lot of sebaceous glands. The scalp is covered in these glands and can commonly be affected by this condition, which looks like red areas on the scalp that are covered with white or yellow tinged scales that have a greasy appearance. It can cover small areas or the entire scalp and ranges from a few mild flakes to very red, scaly and even weeping scalp in the worst cases.
The causes of this scalp condition are unknown. It can be treated with medicated shampoos or scalp ointments containing steroids (for bad cases) to control the symptoms but it cannot be cured. The condition can be worsened or flare up when the sufferer is tired or stressed and occurs more often in the winter month than summer. It is best to get the condition diagnosed by a medical professional rather than attempting to treat it yourself without being sure that this is what you are suffering from.
Although some people think that relaxers can cause or contribute to this scalp condition, this has not been proven. If you have this condition, it is possible wear relaxed hair but you will need to take some extra care.
Before relaxing, as recommended for all relaxers you will need to ensure that there are no open sores on your scalp and that you have not been scratching. Do not relax during a flare up of your dermatitis. It will extremely painful and could make the condition worse or cause you to loose hair.
Use your medicated shampoo or ointment the week before you intend to relax to allow the scalp to settle and try not to handle your hair or manipulate your scalp at all within the period between the treatment and relaxing.
Speak to your stylist about your condition before ordering a relaxer service and they will be able to proceed in the safest way for your scalp. If self relaxing, choose a very mild or sensitive scalp relaxer and choose a hypoallergenic, natural oil to protect your scalp from the relaxer. If you feel any burning, rinse out the relaxer immediately or inform your stylist so they can do so.
In between relaxers, try using gentle medicated shampoos that contain, salicylic acid, coal tar or pyrithione zinc which help to cleanse the scalp thoroughly. Try not to rub these shampoos through the lengths of the hair when massaging in, as they can dry out hair which is especially hazardous for relaxed hair that is already prone to dryness which leads to breakage. Ensure you follow up with good deep conditioner to add and seal moisture in to your hair. Wash as often as is needed to keep your scalp comfortably and looking clean; the need to wash will vary for every woman so see what works for you.
Seborrhoeic dermatitis is caused by the scalp producing excessive sebum so avoid adding oil or grease to your scalp in a bid to disguise or treat the condition as this can trigger more irritation and inflammation of the scalp and can block the pores. If you have been using oils and not seeing an improvement to a flaky scalp, this is a sign that you could have this condition.
If you suffer from this condition, it may be embarrassing but you are not alone. Seek medical advice and follow the advice above. You can still enjoy beautiful relaxed hair.