5 Reasons for an Itchy, Flaky, & Dry Scalp after Giving Birth

Linda White

The body goes through many changes during pregnancy and in the aftermath of childbirth. With hormones raging and a dramatic physical transformation taking place, it’s natural for there to be some unwanted side-effects.

One of these strange side-effects after pregnancy is a dry, itchy scalp. As the pregnancy hormones drain from your body and your system returns to normal, it can leave the scalp flaky, irritated and inflamed. This can be tough for new mothers hoping to enjoy their first few weeks with a new arrival – a dry and itchy scalp can be very distracting.

So why does this happen? And more importantly, how can you get some much-needed relief from these annoying symptoms? We’re going to look at the reasons why you might develop an itchy scalp post C-section or natural labor. We’ll also look at ways you can address the problem, restoring your scalp to its regular, non-irritated state.

If you’re experiencing postpartum dandruff or a particularly itchy scalp after giving birth, read on. You’ll find plenty of information and tips to help get you through this challenging period.

5 Common Postpartum Hair and Scalp Issues

Pregnancy is a time of immense change for the whole body, from head to toe. The hormones released during this time also affect each woman entirely differently. After childbirth, those hormones gradually fade away, and the body tries to return to its pre-pregnancy condition.

Many women don’t realize just how much pregnancy hormones (and the subsequent loss of them) can affect their hair and scalp.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common postpartum hair and scalp issues women face:

  1. Hair loss. During pregnancy, many women speak of having gorgeous, thick locks which grow faster than ever. The increase in estrogen also means you don’t shed as much hair as you usually would. But when the hormones fade, this new growth can quickly fall out. Postpartum hair loss can cause a real dip in confidence for new mothers.
  2. Oily hair. Hormones are directly responsible for most of the oil production in our bodies. Any fluctuation in certain hormone levels could cause excess oil on the scalp, resulting in greasy hair.
  3. Dandruff and an itchy scalp. These issues can appear at any point during pregnancy, and they may persist for many months afterward. Breastfeeding mothers, in particular, can experience quite severe cases of dandruff, for a variety of reasons. Women breastfeeding often don’t realize they need to take on more fluids, so their skin can quickly become dehydrated. Dandruff occurs when the skin-shedding cycle speeds up on the scalp, leaving flaky bits of skin behind. It can be uncomfortably itchy and embarrassing.
  4. Psoriasis or eczema. Many women with existing cases of psoriasis or eczema note that their symptoms decrease dramatically during pregnancy. However, they can return in the months after childbirth, causing problems all over the body, including the scalp.
  5. Postpartum thyroiditis. This inflammation of the thyroid gland after pregnancy can cause a range of unpleasant side-effects. These include fatigue, anxiety, decreased milk production, and hair loss (with an itchy, irritated scalp).

Millions of women struggle with these issues in the months after they’ve given birth. Now that we’ve established some of the most common problems, we can start to look at remedies and solutions.

How to Treat Postpartum Dry Scalp

If your scalp is uncomfortably dry and itchy just weeks after giving birth, don’t fret. There are plenty of things you can do to help treat the problem and restore your scalp to its natural condition.

Here are just a few natural solutions:

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil has been used as a natural medicine and beauty product for centuries. It has potent antibacterial properties, and it’s an anti-inflammatory. This means it’s ideal for ladies suffering from an inflamed or irritated scalp after childbirth.

Sometimes itchy scalps are caused by an overgrowth of fungus. Tea tree oil’s antifungal properties will also help to rid the area of growths and restore it to its natural condition.

Choose a high-quality, organic tea tree oil for the best results. All you need to do is add a couple of drops to your regular shampoo and shake well. Natural shampoos are recommended, as they don’t contain artificial ingredients which can dry the scalp out further. Use your tea tree-infused shampoo once or twice per week for the best results.

You can also use tea tree oil as part of a hot oil treatment. Because tea tree oil isn’t an ‘oil’ per se, you’ll need to mix it with a carrier oil first. We like jojoba, argan, and coconut – they all have plenty of hair benefits and are easy to get hold of.

Mix a few drops of tea tree oil with your chosen carrier oil and add to a microwaveable bowl or a pan on the stove. Heat until warm (not too hot – you don’t want to burn your scalp) and then apply directly to the area. You can leave the hot oil treatment on for up to thirty minutes before rinsing for best results.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Another fantastic ingredient for fighting a dry scalp is apple cider vinegar. This unique substance helps to restore the pH balance of your scalp. An itchy scalp is often caused by fungus or yeast infections, which prefer slightly alkaline conditions. Apple cider vinegar is slightly acidic, which means it creates an environment on the scalp where fungus and yeast can’t grow or spread.

To use apple cider vinegar on your scalp, use a cotton ball and apply it directly. Massage it into the scalp for a couple of minutes, and then rinse off with lukewarm water. This will not only provide instant relief for your itchy scalp, but it’ll also help reduce the itching in the future.

You can also use apple cider vinegar as a rinse. Mix equal parts of apple cider vinegar and water, then wash your hair like normal with a natural shampoo. Once you’ve rinsed the shampoo away, pour the apple cider vinegar solution over your scalp, making sure it covers the whole area. Leave it on for around five minutes, then rinse away with water. Repeat whenever you wash your hair.

Onion Juice

It may sound like an old wives’ tale, but onion juice is helpful for a postpartum dry scalp. It has a high sulfur content, which can help get rid of dryness and itchiness on your head.

First, you’ll need to grate an onion and extract as much juice as possible. To get rid of the off-putting onion smell, mix the liquid with raw honey thoroughly. Honey is another excellent antiseptic, which will clear your scalp of any bacteria.

Apply the onion and honey mix directly to your scalp with a cotton ball. Leave it for up to thirty minutes, then wash your hair with your regular shampoo. While you’re still fighting a dry scalp, you should use this treatment around twice a week. When the dryness is under control, you should use it once every two weeks to keep the irritation at bay.

Banana and Avocado

The cause of a dry scalp is lack of moisture. So it stands to reason that you need to find a way to get some moisture back into your scalp. A nourishing banana and avocado mask is a great way to do this.

Just take one large banana and one avocado and mash the two together. Apply the creamy mask all over your scalp (focusing on areas that feel unusually dry).  Leave it for around thirty minutes and rinse off with cold water. Repeat until your general dryness and itchiness subsides.

This mask is also great for keeping your hair in excellent condition – so mothers suffering from postpartum hair loss can keep their existing locks shiny and healthy.

How to Remove Postpartum Dandruff

As well as having a dry and irritated scalp, dandruff is another issue that plagues women after giving birth. Dandruff can be embarrassing, and may also cause itching that can be very distracting. For sleep-deprived new mothers just trying to get on with raising their little one, dandruff can be an unwelcome issue.

Here are some of the best ways you can treat postpartum dandruff safely and effectively. Natural remedies are great for new mothers, especially those who are breastfeeding. Many of the above treatments for dry scalp will also work for dandruff, so be sure to try them all.

scalp is itchy and dry after pregnancy

Baking Soda

Baking soda isn’t just fantastic for cleaning your kitchen – it’s great for your scalp. It can help exfoliate the area, getting rid of dead skin cells, as well as working to prevent dandruff. Baking soda is relatively inexpensive – in fact, you probably have some in your kitchen cupboards already.

All you need to do for this natural remedy is to mix two tablespoons of baking soda with enough water so that it makes a paste. Then, divide your hair into sections that expose your scalp, and apply the paste directly. Some people prefer to add a dab of olive oil or coconut oil to the scalp before the paste, but that’s personal preference.

Let the paste sit on the scalp for up to ten minutes, then rinse away thoroughly. Repeat the procedure twice a week for the best results – your dandruff will start to improve in no time at all.

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice has antiseptic properties, which makes it great for use on your scalp if you have dandruff. It rids the area of bacteria and helps to restore your scalp to its regular state.

For some people, pure lemon juice can be quite harsh. You don’t want to end up with a stinging scalp – that may cause you to itch even more! Dab a drop of lemon juice on a small part of your scalp first, behind your ear or around your hairline. If it stings or tingles, consider diluting the juice with a little water first.

Once you’ve reached the desired concentration of lemon juice, massage the solution into your scalp and leave for just five minutes. This is a quick and easy treatment that can be carried out anytime – even when the baby is having a quick nap. After the five minutes are up, rinse it out thoroughly with cool water.

Aspirin

Many of the medicated dandruff shampoos on the market contain one important active ingredient: salicylic acid. This ingredient is an exfoliating powerhouse, and it can help to remove the dead, flaky skin cells that cause dandruff. Did you know that your regular household aspirin is packed with salicylic acid?

For this remedy, simply take two aspirins and crush them up into a fine powder. Add the powder to your regular natural shampoo and wash as normal. You may want to wash and rinse the hair again after the initial wash, just to make sure you got rid of it all.

It’s vital to remember that if you’re breastfeeding, you shouldn’t take aspirin orally. But applying it to your scalp will not result in it being absorbed into the system in large amounts, and should be safe for breastfeeding mothers.

reasons for dry scalp after giving birth

4 Tips for Managing a Dry, Itchy Scalp with Dandruff

You want to remember your first months as a mother as a happy, positive time. The last thing you want is to spend all day constantly wanting to scratch your scalp off. Here are some additional tips to help you cope with dandruff and an itchy scalp during this time.

  1. Check the ingredients list on hair products you’re using. You should be aiming to use as many all-natural products as possible. Artificial ingredients like parabens and SLS can dry out the scalp and cause even more irritation.
  2. Wash regularly – but not too often. As a sleep-deprived mother, washing your hair regularly might not be a top priority. But try to wash it and carry out a treatment at least twice per week. Cleaning every day does not help to fight dandruff or dry scalp – in fact, it can make the problem worse by stripping away the hair’s natural oils.
  3. Don’t be afraid to see a doctor if you don’t see improvement. For most women, the issue of a dry, itchy scalp will fade away a few months postpartum. But others face more extended periods with irritated scalps, as a result of seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis or fungal infections. If you’ve tried some of the remedies above and noticed no improvement, see a doctor for a professional opinion.
  4. Know the difference between a regular dry scalp and dandruff. Dry scalp is a simple loss of moisture from the skin. Once the area is moisturized, you’ll start to notice improvements. Dandruff, however, is a condition where scalp skin cells are regenerated too quickly, leaving excess flakes behind. This can be down to overproduction of sebum and yeast infections on the scalp.

How to Manage a Dry Scalp after Giving Birth

We know that the whole body goes through a multitude of changes during and after pregnancy. The hormonal fluctuations and physical changes needed to support new life are enormous – and it’s normal to experience strange side-effects that don’t seem at all related to labor, childbirth or pregnancy.

Dandruff and an itchy scalp are some of the most common side-effects of hormone drop-off in the months after giving birth. These conditions can be very unpleasant for new mums just trying to enjoy their first months of motherhood. They can cause embarrassment and discomfort, and the constant irritation can be distracting.

Fortunately, there are ways these problems can be counteracted. Many of these methods are completely natural remedies. This is perfect for breastfeeding mothers that want to stay away from chemicals and artificial substances at this time. From tea tree oil rinses to baking soda paste, there are lots of ways you can reduce the symptoms of dandruff and enjoy some relief from an itching scalp.

It’s important to remember that if you don’t see improvements after trying any of these treatments, you should see a doctor. It’s likely that you’ll see a doctor many times in the first few months of your child’s life, whether it’s for injections or general check-ups. Mention your scalp issues to a health professional – they’ll be able to diagnose you and provide medicated treatments to help your recovery.

Copyright 2018 by DryScalpGone.