The sensitive skin area of the scalp is often overlooked because it is under the hair. Styling products, body oils, harsh chemicals and pollution clog hair follicles and damage the scalp, resulting in flaky, itchy or inflamed skin, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Keeping the scalp clean and moisturized will stop itching and prevent scalp damage and hair loss. Washing, massaging and treating the scalp with aromatherapy oil, medicated products and scalp-cleaning shampoos prevents damage and keeps those locks looking healthy.
Mild, soap-free shampoos are recommended for dandruff or mild cases of seborrheic dermatitis. Adults with scalp conditions such as dermatitis, psoriasis or dandruff should use nonprescription medicated shampoos containing tar, zinc pyrithione, selenium sulfide, ketoconazole and/or salicylic acid, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. For harsher cases, a dermatologist will write a prescription for a specific medicated shampoo.
Neutrogena T/Gel is a tar-based shampoo. Head & Shoulders and Selsun Salon are zinc pyrithione shampoos. Ionil T is a shampoo that contains salicylic acid. selsun blue contains selenium sulfide. Nizoral shampoo contains ketoconazole.
Hypoallergenic shampoos are recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology for people with sensitive skin. They are a good choice for anyone wanting a gentle scalp cleanser that will not strip away natural oils, leaving the scalp dry and prone to flaking.
Aveda’s Scalp Benefits Shampoo removes excesses sebum and buildup from styling products and the environment. Aveda’s products are organic and do not pollute the environment. Johnson and Johnson’s Baby Shampoo is gentle and soap free and cleans the scalp without irritating it. Lavera Naturkosmetik has a line of hypoallergenic organic products that includes Neutral Shampoo. The products are gentle and can be used for eczema and dermatitis.
Essential oils are used to clean the scalp in people with head lice and ringworm. Eucalyptus, marjoram, spearmint, peppermint, sage, rosewood, clove bud and cinnamon bark are effective at treating head lice, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Positive results have been achieved with ringworm by cleansing the scalp with a treatment of iodine, mercury or essential oils, according to The Canadian Medical Association Journal. Essential oils such as lavender, cedarwood, thyme, rosemary, jojoba and grapeseed were found to be good for the scalp and for treating alopecia areata, or hair loss, in a study by the Department of Dermatology at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary in Foresterhill Scotland.
Caroline Thompson is a professional photojournalist who has been working for print and online publications since 1999. Her work has appeared in the "Sacramento Bee," "People Magazine," "Newsweek" and other publications. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in photojournalism from California State University at Hayward and a personal trainer certification from the university's Health and Fitness Institute.