How To Get Rid Sebum Buildup On Your Scalp
Sebum is absolutely necessary for a healthy scalp and head of hair. However, too much of this good thing can cause some problems, like dandruff and even hair loss. Finding the right balance of sebum on your scalp is vital for your hair health. Here, we share how to get rid of sebum buildup on your scalp and why it happens in the first place.
What Is Sebum?
Sebum is an oily substance produced by our hair follicles and sebaceous glands. Made of a combination of lipids like triglycerides fatty acids, and cholesterol, this sometimes waxy substance is necessary to keep moisture locked into our hair and scalp. Keeping the skin and hair moist is vital to prevent breakage and flaking. Additionally, it also helps prevent infection.
What Is Sebum Buildup?
Under certain circumstances, and in susceptible people, sebum overproduction can occur. When the hair follicles make too much of this substance, it can cause quite a few problems. Sebum buildup is usually a combination of:
- Dead skin cells
- Skin and hair products
Excess sebum can look white or yellowish and clumpy. Sometimes, it mimics other skin and scalp conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and dandruff.
Signs of Sebum Buildup
Signs of sebum buildup include:
- Scalp flaking
- Crusty skin
- Hair thinning
Several factors may lead to sebum overproduction. Often, it is a hormonal imbalance that causes this problem. However, it is also common in people with metabolic disorders and digestive problems. Sometimes, it is even related to a diet high in saturated fats. Most commonly, sebum overproduction is related to poor scalp hygiene. People who wash their hair infrequently (or at minimum 2-3 days apart) are more susceptible to sebum buildup.
Problems With Sebum Buildup on the Scalp
You want to achieve a healthy balance of sebum on your scalp. When you have too much sebum, it can lead to a number of problems - some of which may be permanent. Perhaps the most common and obvious complication of sebum buildup is acne. When too much oil is produced around the hairline, people can get acne, which can worsen inflammation and discomfort in this area.
Seborrheic dermatitis is another complication and usually results in flaking of the scalp. Sometimes, it looks like dandruff, but the flaking in seborrheic dermatitis is caused by too much oil production, whereas dandruff is usually because of dry skin.
Perhaps the most concerning complication of sebum buildup is hair loss. When left unchecked, excess sebum production can damage hair follicles. When hair follicles are damaged, it can be hard to revive them and encourage them to grow healthy hair again.
How to Get Rid of Sebum Buildup on the Scalp
If you have sebum buildup, the first thing you will want to do is figure out why it is occurring. To start, answer these questions:
- How often do you wash your hair?
- What products do you wash your hair with?
- Are you using any other products on your hair?
- Do you have any habits that may affect your sebum production, like daily exercise or wearing hats?
- What is your diet like?
- Do you have any underlying health conditions, like a hormonal imbalance or metabolic disorder?
- What other skin conditions (if any) do you have?
Once you have answered these questions, you can hopefully zone in on what is triggering your problem, and then you can work to correct it. For example, if you have a metabolic condition, you can work with your doctor to ensure your blood sugar levels are stable and work to get to a healthy weight.
Hair and Scalp Care Is Key
No matter the cause of your sebum buildup, good hair and scalp care is essential for curbing sebum production and preventing complications like hair loss. Firstly, you will want to increase the frequency you wash your hair. Depending on how severe your sebum buildup is, you may want to wash your hair daily. Daily hair washing is safe and even healthy for your hair and scalp with the right products.
Along with increasing the frequency you wash your hair, you will also want to make sure your cleaning practices are thorough. Start by using warm, not hot, water. Hot water may dry out the scalp, causing further itching and irritation.
When washing your hair, avoid harsh scratching and scrubbing, but rather gently massage the shampoo onto your scalp in a circular motion. Through massage, you can increase blood flow to the scalp and hair follicles and also work to cleanse it thoroughly.
Lastly, you will want to exfoliate your scalp. Exfoliation on the scalp is more challenging than the skin because you have to get through the hair to access this area. Therefore, mechanical exfoliation (like dry brushing) usually does not work beyond what you are able to do with your hands when washing. Consequently, you will want to use a shampoo that exfoliates with the ingredients it contains
Take Care of Your Hair and Scalp Now
The Best Shampoo for Sebum Buildup
Now that you know how to curb sebum buildup with good washing techniques, you need to make sure you are washing with the right shampoo and conditioner. Some shampoos are specifically made to help curb sebum production and prevent flaking and other scalp problems.
When looking for the best shampoo for sebum buildup, look for a product that contains:
- Glycolic acid
- Zinc pyrithione
- Pomegranate peel
- Hexamidine diisethionate
- Emu oil
- Rosemary, and shikimic acid
You can find all of these ingredients (and more) in the DANDRENE Exfoliating Anti-Dandruff Shampoo. With regular use, you can curb sebum buildup and prevent pesky flaking that can accompany this problem.
When to See a Provider
If you try all of the above strategies to get rid of sebum buildup on your scalp and you still have this problem, it is probably time to see your doctor.
Because sebum buildup can signify a bigger health problem, you may have an underlying condition that requires medical treatment. Some people also have an infection that requires medication to correct. In addition, if areas of your scalp become painful, form crusts, and have fluid or pus drainage, you need to see your doctor.