Is your scalp looking extremely greasy or flaky? It could be because of sebum build-up.
Hair products, oil, sweat, and dead skin cells can build up and cause multiple issues on the scalp. However, there are certain home remedies and lifestyle adjustments that can treat and prevent future sebum accumulation.
Read on to find out more.
- What Is Sebum?
- What Is The Role Of Sebum?
- What Causes Sebum Build-up On The Scalp?
- How To Reduce Sebum Production On Scalp?
- How To Clean Sebum Plugs From The Scalp?
- Tips To Reduce Excessive Sebum Production On Scalp
- Can Sebum Build-Up Cause Hair Loss?
- When To Consult A Healthcare Provider About Sebum Build-Up?
What Is Sebum?
Sebum is your body's natural oil, which seeps out from your scalp and skin pores. It is important to stop the moisture deprivation from your skin and has antibacterial qualities.
Sebaceous glands can be found all over the body, but they are particularly abundant on the head, face, and upper chest. These sebaceous glands are positioned beneath your skin’s surface and produce sebum oil.
It is a complex mixture of lipids that consists of glycerides, fatty acids, squalene, and cholesterol. Though sebum is necessary, it can cause issues if the body produces too much of it.
What Is The Role Of Sebum?
Our bodies benefit from sebum in a number of ways:
- It prevents water loss from the skin's surface.
- It defends the skin from infections.
- It aids in strengthening the skin's immune system, as well as regulates the proliferation of a bacteria called P.acnes, which lives in the pores.
What Causes Sebum Build-up On The Scalp?
Scalp build-up occurs when sebum oil combines with sweat, hair products, and dead skin cells, and collects on the scalp. Seborrheic dermatitis, scalp psoriasis, and eczema can all have identical symptoms. Each of these disorders, for example, might cause flakes to form in the hair and scalp.
Sebum build-up can happen at any time in a person’s life. However, newborns with cradle caps, or thick, yellow areas on their scalp, are more prone to develop scalp buildup due to seborrheic dermatitis in the first few months of life. Also, adults between the ages of 30 and 60 are more likely to develop scalp build-up owing to seborrheic dermatitis.
The causes of scalp clogging are unknown. However, several variables enhance the chances of producing a high amount of sebum oil, which can cause a build-up on your scalp.
1. Hormone imbalances:
Pituitary and Thyroid hormone imbalances might result in an escalation in sebum oil production.
2. Poor scalp cleanliness:
Cleaning your hair less frequently, using unsuitable hair products, and other hygiene-related factors can cause accumulation and inflammation on the scalp. These can further delay hair development.
When there is an increased amount of bacteria or fungi on your scalp, it can cause inflammation and accumulation on the scalp. Demodex folliculorum is one such parasite that causes a skin condition called Hyperseborrhea.
4. Digestive issues:
Sebum's chemical composition can be altered by intestinal and liver issues, rendering it useless for protecting the hair and scalp.
5. Metabolic disorders:
Unhealthy fats such as saturated or trans fats can affect your metabolism, which may lead to an increased amount of sebum oil production.
6. Certain diets:
Foods with a high glycemic index, such as white bread and white rice, might stimulate the secretion of certain growth factors, which causes excessive sebum production. Overproduction of sebum can also be caused by an unhealthy and inadequate diet.
7. Symptoms of Scalp Buildup
- Flaky scalp
- Crusty skin
- Redness on the scalp
- Itchy scalp
How To Reduce Sebum Production On Scalp?
1. Regular Shampooing & Brushing
It is ideal to shampoo your hair once in at least twice or thrice a week or more frequently if you have extremely greasy hair. Use a shampoo containing salicylic acid or piroctone olamine. It also needs to be gentle, sulfate-free and suitable for your hair type. Try to use warm water and avoid hot water. Hot water may cause irritation and dry up the scalp. Eventually, it will lead to dry and flaky skin.
Be gentle while shampooing and brushing your hair. Strictly avoid excessive scratching and rigorous cleaning of the scalp. Brushing on a regular basis is also essential. It has the capacity to raise blood flow, which boosts hair growth. By spreading sebum along the entire strand, it also promotes hair health and shine.
2. Exfoliate Your Scalp
Exfoliation of your scalp is as important as regular cleansing. Get a scalp exfoliator and use it once or twice a week to keep your scalp clean. You can also make your DIY scalp exfoliator.
All you need is brown sugar and oatmeal hair conditioner. Mix the two ingredients and massage your scalp gently once or twice a week.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse
Apple cider vinegar contains antibacterial and antifungal qualities. According to studies, It can eliminate dandruff-causing yeast on the scalp. Pour two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar into a glass of water and keep it aside. Then, shampoo and rinse your hair as usual. Apply the vinegar solution over your scalp and let it rest for two minutes. Once done, rinse it thoroughly.
4. Lemongrass Essential Oil
In an Asian trial, a hair tonic containing 10% lemongrass oil (Cymbopogon flexuosus) appeared to alleviate dandruff. In the study, four subjects utilized the anti-dandruff hair tonic twice a day.
Lemongrass hair products are easily available in the market. However, you can also make your own lemongrass tonic. Dilute the lemongrass essential oil with an appropriate carrier oil and you are good to go.
Pure essential oils should not be used directly, since they are excessively concentrated and can be hazardous.
How To Clean Sebum Plugs From The Scalp?
Washing your scalp with warm water is the first step in removing sebum clogs from your head. After that, use a gentle shampoo and massage your scalp with your fingertips. This aids in the removal of all hardened and dried sebum from the scalp.
Sebum build-up occurs on the scalp rather than on the hair strands. So, instead of rubbing your hair hard while scrubbing the scalp, let the shampoo flow through your strands. After rinsing with warm water, use a conditioner to finish the process.
Tips To Reduce Excessive Sebum Production On Scalp
1. Reduce the frequency of using chemical hair products.
2. Wash your hair once in 2-3 days with a mild herbal shampoo.
3. Wash the scalp thoroughly and rinse all the hair care product residue.
4. Wear a swim cap while swimming to protect your hair.
5. Do not use a blow dryer on your hair. Try to air-dry your mane after a hair wash.
Can Sebum Build-Up Cause Hair Loss?
Your hair’s health is vastly dependent on a healthy scalp. Though excessive sebum production and accumulation on the scalp are not directly linked to hair loss, their connection with dandruff might cause hair loss.
- Seborrhoeic dermatitis is an inflammatory condition that affects areas with a lot of sebaceous glands, such as the scalp. It is caused not only by excessive sebum production but also by excessive colonization of a resident fungus called Malassezia and a deficiency in the immune system.
- Itching and flaking of the scalp are common symptoms. It can cause physical damage to the hair as well as inflammation surrounding the hair follicles, which can decrease the hairs' connection to the skin.
- If you see dry or hardened sebum, it means your scalp is unhealthy. You are then more likely to lose hair as a result of a higher risk of secondary infections and damaged hair.
- It's crucial to maintain a healthy sebum production balance. Both increased and decreased production can result in needless hair and skin issues.
When To Consult A Healthcare Provider About Sebum Build-Up?
If a person's scalp becomes irritated or painful, or if the flaking persists, they should consult a doctor. If someone has psoriasis and has now noticed new or deteriorating spots growing on their scalp, they must see their doctor. A doctor can identify the source of flaking and help the patient to eliminate the accumulation and prevent it from recurring.
There's no denying that sebum on the scalp is required for healthy tresses. Therefore you should take steps to ensure that the proper amount of natural oil is present. However, prolonged use of harsh chemicals or negligence of scalp sanitation may trigger the sebaceous glands to secrete excessive sebum on the scalp, and lead to hair damage.
1. Sebaceous gland lipids, March 2009
2. An update on the role of the sebaceous gland in the pathogenesis of acne, January 2011
3. Human Demodex Mite: The Versatile Mite of Dermatological Importance, January 2014.
4. Glycemic index for 60+ foods, November 2021
5. Functional properties of vinegar, May 2014
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