8 ways to get rid of scalp build-up, according to dermatologists

8 ways to get rid of scalp build-up, according to dermatologists

Use a medicated shampoo

If you've already tried treating your buildup at home, or if you start experiencing symptoms like burning or itching, it's time to see a dermatologist to determine the cause. "If you've tried washing regularly, using a clarifying shampoo and minimizing products that can cause buildup, and you're still experiencing buildup, seeing a dermatologist can help," says Rubin. "If you have what look like 'patches' of buildup, areas of scalp redness, large 'flakes' or significant itching, it's best to see a dermatologist to rule out seborrheic dermatitis or another skin condition."

One source of buildup (and in turn itching, redness or irritation) is the proliferation of a common fungus on your scalp called malassezia furfur, Karen explains. "In a healthy scalp with normal skin, dead skin cells are constantly shedding as new ones grow," she says. "The shedding of dead skin cells usually goes unnoticed, the particles are tiny and the process causes no visible flaking or irritation. The life cycle of skin cells on the scalp is usually about a month. In dandruff sufferers, for example, this process occurs at an accelerated rate and with more destructive results. It is generally believed that a proliferation of malassezia feeds this cycle of rapid skin growth, which in turn leads to build-up.

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

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