When I first got my microlocks/sisterlocks on my type 4d hair, it was amazing. But after a week or two of spraying oil, water and other suggested products on my scalp, it began to fight back. And this fight came up in the form of a very dry, itchy scalp. I never suspected that I had dandruff because I wasn't seeing flaking or other classic symptoms. However, the itchiness was persistent and intense.
I tried various remedies that sisterlock/microlock communities and what my consultant suggested. Some of them were:
- Rose water
- Aloe juice
- Distilled water
- Body oils: coconut, jojoba, olive etc
- Essential oils: tree tree, peppermint, spearmint, eucalyptus, rosemary etc
- Apple cider vinegar
I tried all sorts of combinations/proportions of these ingredients. I avoided apple cider vinegar (ACV) due to the harshness and acidity. However, the itchiness and dryness only continued intensifying. So eventually, I decided to go to a dermatologist. And got diagnosed with seborrheic dermatitis & a fungal infection of the scalp. It sounds horrifying, but fortunately, it's a pretty common condition with proven treatment. And if not handled early, it can spread to other parts of the body, so I'm glad I listened to my gut!
What I was prescribed
Use both of the below for 2 weeks:
- Fluocinolone 0.01% scalp oil – use night before each hair wash on scalp and cover with shower cap overnight.
- Ketoconazole 2% shampoo – apply to scalp and leave on 3-5 mins then rise. Use with each hair wash weekly.
On my own, I've also always used Trader Joe's tea tree shampoo because it's always been instant relief and a treat for my scalp even pre-sisterlocks, and I would highly recommend it or similar products since it provides clear relief from all the irritation. It's much cheaper in store ($5) but you can also find it online.
Has it helped?
Yes and no. I've used it for 2 weeks now and the itchiness is substantially reduced which has been great. However, it's not completely gone; my head still feels tender and occasionally irritated. I'm not sure if I will need more shampooing or ointment to completely eliminate the problem, so I will provide an update in a few weeks.
Potential root cause
What I suspect is that because I was spraying so much liquid (distilled water + various oils) on my scalp in response to my dry scalp, it led to dampness which facilitated the growth of yeast/candida. In the future, I will no longer use water-based sprays constantly on my scalp but instead stick to oils. I'll also avoid aloe juice altogether since it's unclear what the impact of that is on my skin/scalp.
Your skin typically has a small amount of yeast that doesn’t cause any problems. But when too much of this type of yeast grows, you may develop an infection. It’s more likely to develop when a particular part of your body is unusually moist and not exposed to a free flow of air. - Healthline
How you know natural remedies aren't enough
For many days I kept trying tea tree oil and other natural remedies to see if they would resolve my situation, however, it only provided temporary relief. If you're suffering for 10 days+, I would recommended visiting a dermatologist or attempting antifungal treatments with any of the following ingredients:
Having itchy, dry scalp is incredibly uncomfortable, but it's hard to know when it's just the typical case of dry scalp vs something more urgent that needs medical treatment. The natural hair care communities really advertises natural remedies which can help in some cases, however, often times it may not be sufficient. Don't suffer in silence; reach out to medical professionals to get the relief you need so you can get back to living your life!