Scalp Buildup

Scalp Buildup: Definition, Causes, Treatment, and Prevention.

Scalp Buildup

If you noticed dead skin on your scalp or on your shoulders you probably think you have dandruff, similar terms seborrheic dermatitis. Well, it’s probably not the case. If you are one of them who ignores washing hair due to a busy schedule in excessive heat styling, it means you probably have scalp build up. Although less dangerous than dandruff, it’s important to address scalp buildup for healthy scalp and hair. Well, we will tell you why and how!

Conditions like psoriasis, eczema, and scalp buildup are having the same symptoms but different treatments are needed to address different causes. Scalp buildup can often cause itchy scalp itching. This condition can be treatable easily. It has symptoms as dandruff.

What is scalp buildup?

Flaking instead of inflammatory flakes with scalp buildup on the scalp is caused by the buildup of certain things that can cause such flakes:

  • hair-care products
  • skin cells
  • sweat
  • oils
  • a combination of the previously listed substances

In case you are not treating your scalp buildup, it may clog hair follicles and cause hair loss. It can also cause inflammation (folliculitis) and infection.

Can scalp buildup cause hair loss?

Yes, it can cause hair loss as stated above already. Hair loss can occur if the scalp buildup left untreated. Dead skin, oils, and sweat stick to your hair follicles. The folliculitis can cause inflammation of the hair follicles which sometimes occurs as a result of infection. Moreover, severe cases of folliculitis can be raw wounds that do not seem to heal. These sores may cause permanent hair fall and blemishes.

Why Should You Clean Your Scalp?

Cleaning the scalp of your hair is extremely important, regardless of what you follow in your hair care routine. If you have normal to oily hair, then wash your hair every 1-2 days. In case of dry hair, wash it 3-4 times a week. Moreover, dead skin cells on your scalp shed to maintain the health of the hair follicles. Not washing properly can cause dead skin cells, dirt, oils, and product buildup.

What causes scalp buildup?

There are so many reasons that can cause scalp buildup. But it’s important to know for which reason you have scalp buildup. If you are able to find the exact reason for this you are one step closer to find the right treatment. Because this will give you all the necessary information on how best to prevent scalp shaking in the future.

The scalp buildup has 2 main causes:
1. Natural buildup
2. Product buildup

Natural buildup: There are several factors involved in the natural buildup of the scalp.

Dead skin cells

The skin cells that cover your body are constantly dying and regenerating. When they die, they are about to drown. New ones will have to grow to replace the old ones. For some people, however, dead skin cells don’t flow fast enough and it can cause your scalp. The formation of dead skin cells will usually result in a lot of flakes falling from your scalp.


The scalp produces a natural, waxy oil called sebum from the glands under the skin. Moreover, here is the case, some people often produce more of this oil compared to others. So you have to look at yourself if you are in the same category. Sebum is very helpful for protecting the skin from infection and helps to keep it moist all time.


In addition to sebum and dead skin, the scalp also produces sweat. It may also add to the scalp buildup. So here in the case, some people often sweat and they also sweat more as compared to others. So if you are particularly active, you may also sweat more as compared to the other people. Moreover, a sweaty scalp often has sticky hair and it can give off an unpleasant smell.

Product buildup

Parts derived from hair products are another possible cause of scalp formation. There are so many hair care products that contain a waxy substance that can stick to your hair and scalp if you don’t wash it well. Below are some examples:

  • shampoos
  • conditioners
  • styling creams, oils, gels, and foams

How to get rid of scalp buildup

There are many things you can do at home to reduce shaking, discomfort, and odor if you are working with scalp making.

Here are some options:

Choose the right shampoo and conditioner for your hair type. On the off chance that you want to choose a shampoo that can help reduce scalp formation, then it is important to consider your hair type. Shampoos are sold in a number of formulations:

  • average hair
  • dry and damaged hair
  • oily hair
  • deep-cleaning
  • baby
  • medicated

If you are unable to find the right and best shampoo for your hair type then look for the ingredients list. The more ingredients there are on the list, the more abundant it is in a shampoo.

Here are some examples of hair types and the primary shampoo ingredients can look:

Oily hair: Lauryl sulfates or sulfosuccinates that helps to remove sebum from the hair. So look for the shampoo which contains these ingredients.

Average-to-dry hair: Shampoos with lauryl sulfates remove some sebum from the hair.

Dry or damaged hair: Shampoos containing sarcosine, amniocentesis, alkaloids, sodium loraminopropia, ivy agave, and silicone, which cleans and dries hair without removing a lot of sebum.

So in case if you have sensitive skin then you must ignore the shampoos which contain:

  • formalin
  • parabens

Regular and thorough washing

In case if you use hair care products it’s necessary to wash your hair regularly and thoroughly to prevent scalp buildup. However, some anecdotally recommend that on average-to-oily hair can be washed every 1 to 2 days, while dry-to-damaged hair can be washed every 3 to 4 days.

What does a thorough wash look like?

So there are a few important points to treat scalp buildup and keep hair fresh and clean:

Wash your hair well before applying shampoo. The shampoo is better developed on wet hair and ease the spread, which will allow you to use fewer products. First, mix the shampoo with water. You may try applying a little water to your hair and scalp before rubbing your shampoo on it. This helps ease the spread and decrease the amount of shampoo you use.

For your first wash use mild water. In the case of the warm water that helps to open up the outer part of each hair so that the shampoo can go inside and remove dirt and oil. This will also, help conditioners and products to work better.

Always remember to focus on your scalp. The edges of your hair are more likely to dry out from the shampooing and are usually the cleanest part of your hair. So try to focus on shampooing your scalp, because this process will help you to clean your hair most effectively without drying it out.

Be gentle. Avoid scrubbing your hair tightly with back-and-forth or circular motions, because this may cause breakage. Gently wash the hair from the roots to the ends with the fingers and palms. Always remember not to scrub your scalp with the help of your nails, because this may cause uncomfortable scabs and sores.

Put conditioner on your ends. Your scalp does not need more moisturizer. Always remember adding a conditioner to your scalp will only cause more buildup. Instead, focus on applying conditioner to your ends, which requires maximum moisture.

Apple cider vinegar

Well, apple cider vinegar can help reduce scalp buildup but there is no scientific proof. However, it can kill bacteria the research says. There is not enough research to suggest that it can prevent scalp fungal infections, scalp folliculitis. Some anecdotally suggest that washing your hair with apple cider vinegar mixed with water can help to kill bacteria that can lead to this complication. In addition, apple cider vinegar can also benefit your hair health in other ways.

Keep hair detangled

Brushing your hair every day helps to keep your hair more relaxed. This can reduce scalp buildup and disintegration. A bristle brush can be a great tool to keep the hair tangle-free. Moreover, bristle brushes are made from natural (boar) or synthetic bristles which are suitable for all types of hair. Which helps distribute the oil more evenly across your hair. In addition, it may also help to reduce scalp buildup.

There are so many people who have coarse hair that prefer brushing the hair when hair is wet. It may be helpful, but always remember to use lukewarm water while washing your hair not cold water, which can contribute to frizzing and breakage.

So be gentle while washing your hair. Always remember to brush from the edges up to the scalp ending at the roots. In the case that if you are thinking of stylish your hair then you may choose a bristle brush which may help you to achieve a certain look.

Exfoliate your scalp

So what it is. Well, you may be familiar with exfoliating skin on your legs, arms, and other parts of the body. However, do you ever think about exfoliating your scalp? Exfoliation is active if done once or twice a week, it can help reduce the buildup of your scalp. Scalp exfoliation is suggested for healthy people without scalp diseases, such as herpes, any open sores, or lice.

Lemongrass oil. If you have dandruff you can use lemongrass oil because it helps cure it. Some research also recommends use it since it’s a very effective treatment for dandruff. In a study, a 10 percent lemongrass solution was shown to work best as a dandruff treatment.

How To Prevent Scalp Buildup?

1. Do Not Use Hair Care Products Too Often

There are so many people who use hair care products but it’s also important to remember not to use them excessively. Haircare products such as shampoo, gels, conditioner, creams, and serum may cause scalp buildup.

2. Limit Heat Styling And Hair Dyes

With the help of straighteners, heat dryers, and curlers, heat styling can dry out the scalp and increase the production of excess oil which stimulates scalp buildup.

3. Try To Stick To A Hair Care Routine

Daily shampooing and conditioning your hair ensure healthy hair. In the case of shampooing, it helps to remove the dead skin cell and dirt from the scalp and hair. In the case of conditioning, it helps to protect hair cuticles. If you like to sweat from the gym, consider washing your hair frequently.

4. Brushing Your Hair Everyday

Yes, it’s important to brush your hair daily but gently, which can help to keep the tangles away and spread the oils evenly. Try separating the hair into parts and brush your hair gently without damaging or breaking.

5. Keep Your Hair Healthy.

It’s another important point. Always remember to protect your hair from drying it out, that means to avoid using strict chemicals like chemical straighteners.

When to see a doctor

If your scalp buildup is not reducing and it’s getting worse day by day and also the home remedies are not working so far then you should look for a specialist. Share your symptoms and the treatment you have tried but not worked well.

They will find the main cause and then will make the best treatment plan which will be best for your needs. In case, if you have scalp psoriasis, dandruff then they may suggest prescription shampoos and topicals.

The Bottom Line

It is easily formed on the scalp due to the accumulation of too much substance on the scalp. It can be confused easily with dandruff as both conditions share some similar symptoms.

Moreover, these conditions are not the same hence they required different methods of treatment. So maintaining healthy hair through good hygiene and proper hair care rules that help to prevent and treat scalp buildup.

In the end, try to reduce both natural and product buildup. Then use the above-mentioned remedies to have a healthy, flake-free scalp.

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