These are the causes of scalp build-up and here’s how you can treat it


Scalp buildup gives rise to a slew of hair woes. Learn about what causes scalp buildup and the effective ways to keep the condition under control.

These are the causes of scalp build-up and here’s how you can treat it

1. What is scalp buildup?
2. What causes scalp buildup?
3. How to treat scalp buildup?

When you notice flakes in your hair and scalp, your first thought will probably be - “is this dandruff?” Your assumption is quite valid since dandruff causes dead skin cells on your scalp to turn into flakes. But, there’s a possibility that there may be something totally different that’s triggering these dandruff-like symptoms. Sometimes, even scalp build-up can cause flaking. Interestingly, scalp buildup tends to affect babies and adults aged between 30 to 60. But you’re not alone in this fight! We’re here to help you.

Let’s look at what does scalp buildup look like and the effective ways to deal with the condition.

What is scalp buildup?

Scalp buildup occurs when sweat, residue from hair products, and dead skin cells accumulate with the sebum produced by your scalp. It causes flaking and the symptoms are quite similar to those of seborrhoeic dermatitis, eczema, and scalp psoriasis. Thankfully, scalp build-up is not as severe as these conditions and is easily treatable. The primary difference is that the flaking associated with scalp buildup is caused by the accumulation of certain things like skin cells, hair products, sweat, and oils; whereas, flakes caused by dandruff and other similar conditions occur due to inflammation. However, if left untreated, scalp buildup can clog hair follicles and trigger *hair loss. It can even lead to infection and inflammation (folliculitis).

In addition to flaking, scalp build-up can also cause:

• Oily or crusty skin
• Redness of the skin
• Itchiness

What causes scalp buildup?

Scalp buildup occurs when one or more substances remain on your scalp and build-up over time. When the bits of the buildup start falling off, they end up as flakes in your hair and on the scalp. The substances that are stuck to your hair can be divided into two categories: products and natural substances.

The products that cause scalp buildup include:

• Oils
• Ointments
• Shampoos
• Conditioners
• Styling creams or gels

The natural substances that lead to scalp buildup are:

• Dead skin cells
• Sebum, produced by the scalp to keep your hair hydrated
• Sweat

When these substances accumulate, they suffocate your hair roots and cause inflammation, thus, paving way for your upcoming hair woes.

How to treat scalp buildup?

We’re sure by now, most of you are curious to know what does scalp buildup look like and if it’s related to dandruff? Well, its resemblance to dandruff can cause panic. However, remember that scalp buildup and dandruff are two different conditions, and the former occurs because your hair isn’t clean. Cleaning your scalp is vital to prevent the buildup from wreaking havoc on your scalp. If you have normal to oily hair, it’s advisable to wash your hair every alternate day or after every two days. If your hair is dry, wash your hair 3-4 times a week.

Let’s look at some great ways to keep your scalp clean and get rid of the build-up:

  • Choose the right shampoo and conditioner

    Scalp buildup causes itching and irritation and to tackle this problem, you need to find the right shampoo and conditioner that can bring the situation under control. Try Head & Shoulders Itchy Scalp Care Shampoo for Flake-Free Hair. This shampoo is formulated with HydraZinc and contains eucalyptus that relieves itching and irritation, and gives you beautiful hair and a healthy scalp. Pair this with Head & Shoulders Itchy Scalp Care Conditioner, which keeps your hair and scalp moisturised all day long.
    If you are pinched for time and cannot go through the shampoo + conditioner routine, you can try Head & Shoulders Itchy Scalp Care 2-in-1 Anti-Dandruff Shampoo + Conditioner. Its HydraZinc formula immediately soothes and protects against an itchy scalp.
  • Ensure that you wash your hair enough

    Create a proper hair washing schedule to ensure that you wash your tresses enough to keep them clean. This is an excellent way to make sure that you wash your hair just enough to remove the dirt and gunk that accumulates throughout the day, without removing the natural oils that keep your scalp healthy. If you are having a tough time figuring out when to wash your hair, check your individual hair strands and scalp. If you notice flakes, oil, and other gunk, you’ll know it’s time to wash your hair.
  • Detangle your hair

    To prevent scalp buildup, you should detangle your hair every day, an important step that we often overlook. When you brush/comb your hair, it distributes the sebum evenly across your tresses and reduces the chances of scalp buildup that occur due to the accumulation of sebum. You can either use a wide-tooth comb or a bristle brush to remove the tangles from your hair.
  • Exfoliate your scalp

    Scalp exfoliation is the best way to reduce scalp buildup and prevent it from recurring. You can do it once or twice a week. However, this method to treat scalp buildup is recommended for people who don’t have any active scalp infections caused by ringworm, lice, or open sores.

Now that you know what is scalp buildup, you should also know that the symptoms look different for everyone—while some people get itchy scales, others might experience scalp tenderness or soreness. Irrespective of how it looks, you need to treat it immediately. These products from Head & Shoulders and other effective tips can help you treat the condition. Trust us, your invigorated and clean scalp will be grateful to you.

*All references on this page refers to hair fall or hair loss due to breakage.