How to Stop the Scalp from Peeling after Getting a Perm

Linda White

Some people would do just about anything to get curls. Others who have naturally curly hair might prefer permanently straightening it. When you look for more permanent answers, you’ll likely either consider a perm or a relaxer. While they offer different results, they use similar processes that can, unfortunately, damage the hair and scalp. This can result in itching, peeling, and dandruff after getting a perm.

Perms and relaxers both use specific chemicals designed to manipulate the hair. These are usually harsh chemicals that break down the natural bonds within your hair, allowing them to either be curled or straightened.

While getting a perm or a relaxer may not be the most comfortable thing, it shouldn’t be painful or cause damage to the scalp when done properly. Unfortunately, if performed incorrectly, it can lead to things like chemical burns, hair loss, and of course, peeling, flaking, and dandruff.

This article will cover the cause of these symptoms after receiving a perm, and how you can help to treat them. It’s not uncommon to want your hair to look a certain way. But, it shouldn’t be at the expense of the health of your scalp.

What Causes the Scalp to Peel after a Chemical Hair Treatment?

More often than not, problems like scalp peeling occur after a perm or relaxer due to user error. Either the chemicals were left on too long, or they weren’t mixed properly. There are dozens of things that could potentially go wrong, and unfortunately, it’s easy for it to happen.

There are several factors to consider that can cause pain and irritation. First, the curlers used could be too tight. If the rods are rolled too tightly, it can cause pulling of the hair, and the scalp can become overly tender.

Of course, the biggest culprit when it comes to damaging the hair and scalp are the chemicals used, including the using dyes to change our hair color. If they aren’t used correctly, they can burn the scalp. This can cause a lot of pain, blistering, peeling, and flaking. Your scalp may appear red and inflamed for several days after the treatment. In many of these cases, it can also cause breakage of the hair.

In some rare cases, you may experience an allergic reaction to the chemicals used in the process. Scalp pain is a common symptom typically tied to this type of allergic reaction. To make sure you’re not allergic to the product before getting a perm, have your stylist patch perform a test on the back of your neck.

Why Do I Get Bad Dandruff after a Perm?

Because of the harsh chemicals in these hair treatments, it’s not uncommon to experience an itchy scalp after a perm. Keep in mind that in many cases, your scalp is also irritated from the treatment. That works out to be a perfect environment for flaking.

Dandruff is often caused by skin irritation. It makes the skin of the scalp weaker, making it harder to hold onto nutrients and moisture it needs to be healthy. Unfortunately, it also makes it easier for things like chemicals to wreak havoc on your skin. Relaxers and perms also weaken the skin of the scalp, making it easier for dandruff to show up.

In short, a perm or relaxer is likely going to dry out your hair and scalp, and could even burn it. A dry scalp leads to itching, and itching leads to white flakes you’ll find on your shoulders and clothes. What’s even worse, however, is that scratching your scalp too much could cause it to bleed. This puts you at risk for infection.

If you have dandruff already before getting a perm, it’s important to do what you can to get rid of it. As you can see, these types of chemical treatments may make the problem much worse, and much more painful.

scalp red and sore due to perm

Is Using Relaxers Healthy for the Scalp?

Relaxers have the opposite effect of a perm as they help to straighten the hair. However, the chemicals used in most relaxers aren’t any better. Even those that claim to be ‘no lye’ relaxers can still contain harmful ingredients that cause irritation, inflammation, and itching.

In some cases, things like relaxers and perms can do more than just dry out the scalp. They can cause chemical burns and blisters, which is likely what’s giving you the feeling that your scalp is peeling. You may notice large pieces of skin peeling away, especially if you’re regularly itching at your head. This can be extremely painful. So, whether you want to straighten your hair or curl it, being aware of the chemicals used is important. Applying them properly is even more important.

How to Treat Redness & Soreness of the Scalp after a Perm

If you’re dealing with dandruff after a perm, you may want to look into an effective dandruff shampoo, or natural shampoo, such as Tru Moroccan Repair. Another great option is Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo. Look for a solution with clinically-proven healing results. These formulas are designed to alleviate itching, soothe inflammation and redness, and stop flaking.

You can also choose to use a healing cream or ointment directly on your scalp. Look for some of the following ingredients in the products you choose:

  • Aloe vera: Can help to cool and calm an inflamed scalp and reduce pain.
  • Chamomile: Helps to calm irritation.
  • Manuka honey: This has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Cocoa butter: A natural healing solution for dry skin.

Since the chemicals used on your perm or relaxer were strong, it’s good to combat them with as many natural ingredients as possible. Thankfully, there are great products available that are filled with organic, safe ingredients that can help to soothe an irritated scalp and get rid of peeling.

Natural Solutions to Stop Peeling & Irritation

If you’d prefer a DIY solution to get rid of pain after a perm, you can find relief in items you probably already have in your home. One of the best at-home solutions is olive oil. Follow the steps below to use olive oil as a soothing treatment for a perm-damaged scalp.

  1. Completely soak several cotton balls in extra virgin olive oil.
  2. Rub the cotton balls over your scalp, paying close attention to the most irritated or damaged areas.
  3. Cover your head with a shower cap and let the olive oil soak into your skin for at least an hour.
  4. Rinse your hair with warm water, and then use a gentle (natural) shampoo.

For an even more effective treatment, you can leave the oil in overnight and rinse it away in the morning. Olive oil contains antioxidants, including Vitamin E, and is a natural exfoliator to the scalp.

How to Protect Yourself from Harmful Hair Treatments

Use perms and relaxers with caution. There are several preventative measures you can take to protect yourself. Some of these tips include:

  • Use a protective gel on your scalp before the treatment, such as petroleum jelly.
  • Don’t wash your hair the week before your treatment. Hot water and chemicals from your usual hair products can make the scalp weaker and more sensitive. Additionally, don’t use heated styling tools for a week.
  • Work with your stylist a week or two before the actual treatment, especially if you’ve never had one before. They may be able to do a ‘streak test’ to determine which chemicals will work best on your hair. It’s okay to talk with them about your concerns over the health of your scalp.
  • Don’t brush your hair or use a comb for at least two days before the treatment. You may risk accidentally ‘poking’ or even scraping the skin of your scalp, which can lead to greater irritation when the chemicals are applied. It may even cause more of a burning sensation on the scalp, which can increase the desire to itch.

my scalp is sore and painful after perm

Protecting the scalp from a relaxer starts long before the actual treatment itself. Prepare yourself as best you can, and talk with your stylist ahead of time so you can get the hairstyle you want while lowering the risk of potential negative reactions on your skin.

Should I Stop Getting Perms or Relaxers?

Limiting the chemical treatments you use for your hair is the best option for overall scalp health. This is especially true if you tend to experience itching, swelling, or peeling after you get a perm or relaxer. It is fine to want your hair to cooperate a certain way, just be aware of how to do it as safely as possible.

By using some of the protective measures listed above, and following up a chemical treatment with natural shampoos, such as Christina Moss Naturals Organic Shampoo, you can alleviate the painful and irritating symptoms sometimes associated with getting a perm.

We hope this article has been helpful and allows you to find some relief from the damage that is frequently caused by these types of treatments. Here is some info on the top shampoos for severely damaged hair. Working with a qualified stylist and knowing how your skin reacts with certain chemicals is a great way to start if you’re considering a hair treatment, or if you know they irritate you, and you want to make a change in the future.

Copyright 2018 by DryScalpGone.