Just as an oily scalp leads to oily hair, a dry scalp often results in hair that looks dull and lifeless, not to mention skin that is itchy and flaky. But if you are dealing with a dry scalp, treatment might also be as close as your shampoo bottle.
When treating dry scalp, look for products containing coal tar, salicylic lactic acid or urea [source: Mayo Clinic: Dry Skin]. We've already discussed how coal tar reduces the regeneration of skin cells, which can lead to fewer flakes and less dry skin. Salicylic acid works in much the same way and can be used along with coal tar for tough scalp problems [source: National Psoriasis Foundation]. Shampoos with salicylic acid will soften scaly patches of dry skin and make them easier to shampoo away; however, because salicylic acid can dry out your skin, be sure to use a moisturizing product along with it. Also, products containing urea and lactic acid will work in much the same way to reduce any flakes or scaly patches caused by excessive dryness. Again, be sure to work product into the scalp and let it sit for three to five minutes before rinsing for maximum effectiveness.
Additionally, shampoos, creams or foams with corticosteroids, such as hydrocortisone, can provide relief [source: Mayo Clinic: Dry Skin]. But be sure to check with your doctor before using a steroid-based product.
If you find yourself still fighting chronic scalp problems, and nothing you've done so far has worked, read on to find out what you can do next.