The Doctors is IN: …that time of the month…
A reader writes:I would like to know how to take care of my hair during my monthly cycle. During the rest of the month my regimen seems to work fine, but during my cycle, especially a heavy month, my hair is very dry and itchy. What should I do to keep my hair healthy, happy, and moisturized during this time?
Dr. Kari Writes
Hormones play a key role in the hair growth cycle and the function of our sebaceous glands (the glands in our scalp that secrete a natural oil called sebum). Therefore, it is not a surprise that you are experiencing a change in your hair and scalp during your menstrual cycle. Prior to the start of your cycle, progesterone levels increase stimulating the production of sebum. The increased presence of this waxy substance that coats your hair and scalp will definitely interfere with the effectiveness of your products. If it has been a while since you’ve shampooed your hair, now is the time to do so. Make sure you shampoo your hair at the start of your cycle. Removing this build up will help you get the most out of your products.
This increased production of sebum will sometimes trigger a flaky scalp. We have a tendency to characterize a flaky scalp as a dry scalp. The scalp may not technically be dry, but the flakes are a result of the excess sebum altering the pH of your scalp. More sebum also means more yeast, which will show up in the form of flaking and itching. If you do not have flakes but are equating the itch with a dry scalp, the itching may also be a result of the increased estrogen levels once your cycle begins. If you are prone to anxiety, your stress levels may spike causing an itchy feeling in your scalp.
During this time of the month my suggestions are to:
1. Make sure your hair and scalp are clean by using a clarifying shampoo not just a conditioner. Don’t forget to deep condition and lubricate your strands afterwards.
2. Incorporate a medicated shampoo into your regimen during this time to soothe the itch. To avoid drying out your strands, put the shampoo directly on the scalp and allow it to sit. After rinsing out the medicated shampoo, deep condition. I like to recommend Neutrogena’s T-Gel
3. Keep the scalp lubricated with natural anti-inflammatory oils and oils that assist in balancing the pH of the scalp. I like to recommend Eden Bodyworks Peppermint Tea Tree or Jojoba Minoi oils.
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Editor’s Note: This is a particularly fascinating question–I’ve never thought about the correlation between the two, but it totally makes sense that there is! If there tends to be skin flare ups, of course there can be hair flare ups too around one’s period! I know I’ll be paying more attention next month!