An oily scalp can create a multitude of issues, from chronic itchiness to dull, dry hair. The good news is that when you successfully treat an oily scalp, you eliminate these other problems as well. How can you say goodbye to an oily scalp and hello to healthier skin and hair?
Dr. Sapna Palep, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Spring Street Dermatology in New York City, has advice on how to manage and treat an oily scalp. We offer comprehensive cosmetic and medical dermatological treatments, using the least invasive methods possible to achieve natural, beautiful results. Our team of physicians can help you reach your aesthetic goals or address your health concerns in our SOHO, Tribeca, and Uptown offices. From lifestyle changes, to over-the-counter products and medical treatments, Dr. Palep explains below how you can keep your scalp and hair looking and feeling their absolute best.
Causes of an Oily Scalp
Everyone has some oil on their scalp. Oil is necessary to keep the skin moisturized and the hair hydrated. Our sebaceous glands are responsible for producing the oil our hair and skin need. In some cases, these glands can start to produce too much oil. Why do some people have an oily scalp and others don’t? Here are a few reasons:
- Hormonal fluctuations
- Stress (which can lead to a hormone imbalance)
- Acne on the face or other areas of the body
- Other skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis
- Seborrheic dermatitis (dandruff)
- Higher levels of the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT)
If your hair is dry while your scalp is oily, it could be due to washing your hair too often or using the wrong products on your hair. Some skin conditions can also lead to dry hair despite excess oil production.
Symptoms of an Oily Scalp
You may have an oily scalp if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Pimples or ingrown hairs on the scalp
- Hair that looks oily or waxy even after washing
- An itchy scalp, often accompanied by white flaking
- The appearance of a skin condition, like eczema
- A feeling that your hair is never fully clean
If you are unsure whether your symptoms are due to excess oil, an appointment with one of our board-certified dermatologists in NYC can help you know for sure. Your dermatologist can also diagnose and treat other skin conditions that might be contributing to the excess oil production.
An Oily Scalp and Hair Loss
Some people suffer another troublesome symptom with an oily scalp: hair loss. While oil does not cause hair loss by itself, it can exacerbate a condition that might already exist. Excess oil clogs the hair follicles, making it difficult for new hair to grow. In addition, the oil buildup can trap other pore-clogging substances like dirt, buildup of hair products, and dandruff flaking.
Higher amounts of DHT can also lead to hair loss. Since these increased levels can also increase oil in the scalp, individuals may find they are dealing with a twofold problem of hair loss and an oily scalp at the same time. This issue is most common in men over 50, but it can also occur in women.
Reducing the Oil Production
There are some steps you can take to reduce oil production to improve the appearance of your scalp and hair. Dr. Palep suggests oral medicines like spironolactone for women. Spironolactone can decrease androgens which in turn decreases oil production. A healthy diet that doesn’t induce hormones can also help manage oil production. Dr. Palep also encourages patients to decrease stress levels, which in turn reduces cortisol levels, which can lead to a decrease in oil production.
How to Treat an Oily Scalp
The good news is there are ways to treat an oily scalp. First, Dr. Palep recommends avoiding oil to treat an oily scalp. This is something that is often done, and it usually makes things worse.
You can wash your scalp more often. If you don’t want to dry out the rest of the hair, protect the ends by applying conditioner after you shampoo. Do not put conditioner on the scalp itself, however. Apply it to the hair starting a few centimeters away from the scalp.
Brushing the scalp regularly increases blood circulation, which increases nutrient delivery to the hair overall. This will promote growth and improve the appearance of the hair.
There are also products you can purchase over the counter that will help control oil production and associated problems. For example, Dr. Palep says antifungal shampoos help tremendously with preventing and treating the dandruff that results from an excessively oily scalp. She also recommends avoiding greasy or sticky products like styling gels, mousse, and hairspray.
Other good options include ketoconazole shampoo or shampoos with small amounts of salicylic acid. Shampoos with coal tar or tea tree oil can also be a good choice as long as the formulations are not in an oil base. One good example is Paul Mitchell’s Tea Tree Special Shampoo. Neutrogena anti-residue shampoo is also an effective product, according to Dr. Palep.
No matter which type of shampoo you choose, Dr. Palep cautions against using the product anywhere but the scalp. These cleansers are not designed for the hair or other areas of the body. When used according to manufacturer instructions, all can help minimize oil production and maximize the health of your skin and the quality of your hair.
Schedule a Consultation with a Dermatologist in New York City Today
The scalp is just one area that can experience excessive oil production. If you are dealing with this concern on the scalp, face, or another area of the body, a board-certified dermatologist can help. Contact Spring Street Dermatology in New York City today to schedule your assessment at our SOHO, Tribeca, or Uptown office.
It is no secret that women have it harder. First, we get monthly periods well before we need them. Then, we go through pregnancy with its hormone spikes, body stretching, and delivering an entire human being out of a tiny opening. Just as we are trying to bounce back, menopause strikes to slow us down. The body region hit the hardest is, of course, the female genitourinary system.
Women experience vaginal itching, dryness, irritation, poor lubrication, pain during intercourse, urinary incontinence, and stretching of tissues. This complex of symptoms is now called the Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause (GSM). However, many of these same issues can occur before menopause due to childbirth, breast feeding, or after cancer treatment.
Vaginal health has a tremendous impact on quality of life – physically, psychologically, and sexually. It can affect comfort, confidence, and romantic relationships.
Treatment options have traditionally been limited to hormone therapies and invasive surgical procedures, both of which carry undesirable risks and side effects. In recent years, minimally invasive laser treatments previously used to treat various gynecologic diseases have been found to also be effective for vaginal rejuvenation.
The most exciting device in this arena is the Juliet by Cutera. Juliet is an erbium laser that takes 20 minutes to revitalize both the internal and external vaginal tissue. The process involves 2 passes: The first delivers micro columns of laser energy that stimulate regeneration of collagen and elastin, strengthening the structure of the inner vaginal wall. The second pass delivers gentle heat to improve vaginal tone and flexibility. There is minimal discomfort and little downtime. A series of 3 treatments at 4 week intervals with yearly touch ups is recommended.
Various studies published in medical journals have shown significant improvement in symptoms of GSM and suggest that vaginal erbium laser may be a safe and effective treatment for this indication. Women who have had Juliet treatments report life changing improvements in lubrication, sexual discomfort, vaginal firmness and tone, leakage of urine when sneezing/ coughing or laughing, labial tightening, and external skin appearance.
With Juliet, offered at Spring Street Dermatology’s New York office, women now have an alternative to taking hormones or having surgery when it comes to turning back the vaginal clock! And, don’t worry – nobody has to know about it! To learn more about Juliet by Cutera, visit cutera.com
Pregnancy is supposed to be a magical time full of hope and wonder. For some people, it is also full of pimples and cysts. Hormone changes responsible for creating a human being can also activate pathways that cause breakouts. In some cases, women suffered from acne previously but were controlled on medications that needed to be discontinued. Other times, breakouts happen to people who never had acne. Either way, pregnancy acne is no fun and here’s how to handle it.
Make sure your skincare is not part of the problem.
Skincare really matters. Many women embark on the journey to motherhood understandably wanting to be as chemical free as possible. This means they eliminate their good ole Cetaphil moisturizer and purchase natural products that contain oils, waxes, or shea butter. Unfortunately, these ingredients are often pore clogging and can cause or worsen breakouts. When choosing cleansers and moisturizers, be careful to select non-comedogenic and oil free products.
What, and what not, to use.
During pregnancy, the typical acne treatments containing retinoids, benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid are best avoided. Products that contain alpha hydroxy acids and sulfur based are considered safe and effective.
Azelaic acid is a naturally occurring antibacterial that also has keratolytic, comedolytic and antioxidant activity. This means it kills acne causing p. Acnes bacteria on the skin surface. In addition, it loosens skin cells so they don’t clog pores, reduces inflammation, and decreases hyperpigmentation.
Glycolic acid is another naturally occurring alpha hydroxyl acid derived from sugarcane. It works by speeding up the process of exfoliating dead skin cells and eliminating excess oil. This helps reduce pimple causing clogged pores and encourages new, fresh skin cells to come to the surface.
Sulfur based products have antimicrobial effects and are effective in drying out excess oil. While they are effective, most preparations have a strong, unpleasant scent that limits use in pregnant women who are hypersensitive to stinky smells.
Get in with a dermatologist sooner rather than later.
If you are suffering from pregnancy acne, your dermatologist should be your best friend. First of all, there are forms of folliculitis that can mimic acne. Early diagnosis and proper management can save a lot of frustration. Also, dermatologists offer face saving extractions, cortisone injections, and if necessary, pregnancy safe prescriptions and procedures to help your acne.
An extraction procedure is a medical grade facial, where a dermatologist uses a sterile tool called a comedone extractor to remove clogged pores. Since clogged pores turn into pimples, it is beneficial to eliminate them!
Cystic pimples begin underground, can be painful, and often leave marks behind. Fortunately, a tiny dose of liquid cortisone can be injected into cysts to decrease the inflammation and shrink them quickly. Cortisone shots contain a minute amount of dilute cortisone. Since there is very limited systemic absorption, it is considered a safe option throughout pregnancy and while nursing.
Other pregnancy safe procedures include blue light facials, microdermabrasion, and glycolic acid peels. If prescriptions are necessary, there are options such as topical and oral antibiotics as well as prescription strength azelaic acid.
Pregnancy acne is unavoidable for some women. However, it can be treated and improved safely by optimizing skin care, incorporating alpha hydroxy acids, and working with a trusted dermatologist in New York. To learn more, contact us at Spring Street Dermatology.