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Why you shouldn’t touch your scalp?


Your scalp is a sensitive part of your body that needs special care and attention. Many people underestimate the importance of scalp health and end up causing more harm than good through improper scalp care routines. Touching your scalp excessively can lead to a host of problems including hair loss, irritation, infections and more. Here’s an in-depth look at why you should minimize touching your scalp.

It Can Spread Germs and Bacteria

Your scalp is home to hundreds of thousands of microorganisms. When you touch your scalp with dirty hands, you transfer these germs directly onto your scalp and hair follicles. This gives bacteria an easy pathway to enter your skin and hair roots, potentially causing problems like dandruff, folliculitis, seborrheic dermatitis and more. Even scratching an itchy scalp with dirty fingernails can introduce germs deep into your skin and lead to infection. The best practice is to touch your scalp only with clean hands to avoid spreading germs.

Ways to prevent germ transfer:

  • Wash hands thoroughly before touching scalp
  • Trim nails short to minimize skin damage while scratching
  • Don’t share hairbrushes or headgear
  • Disinfect combs/brushes regularly

It Can Damage Hair Follicles

Your hair follicles are delicate and need to be handled with care. When you excessively scratch, rub or tug at your scalp hair, the friction can damage hair follicles over time. This can stunt hair growth and cause inflammation or infections within hair roots. Damaged follicles struggle to support healthy hair growth and may cause hair loss. Even simply running your hands through your hair aggressively can apply unwanted tension on strands and weaken the follicles. Avoid constantly touching or scrubbing your scalp, and use a gentle touch whenever required.

Signs of scalp/follicle damage:

  • Excessive hair loss
  • Red, itchy or inflamed scalp
  • Sensitive/painful scalp
  • Poor hair quality and slow growth

It Can Spread Infections

If you already have an irritation, infection or wound on your scalp, touching it frequently can easily spread it further. Conditions like dandruff, ringworm, folliculitis, eczema etc. can quickly worsen and cover a larger area if you constantly touch or scratch the affected spot. The infectious agents gain access deeper into your skin, hair roots and follicles if you keep touching your scalp without disinfecting your hands. This makes the infection more stubborn and harder to treat. Avoid touching any scalp wounds or infections until properly healed.

How to contain scalp infections:

  • Avoid scratching or touching the infected area
  • Wash hands after touching the infection
  • Do not share brushes, combs or headgear
  • Disinfect hair accessories regularly

It Can Aggravate Sensitive Skin

If you have a sensitive scalp, constantly touching it can easily disrupt its protective moisture barrier and trigger inflammation. Friction from scratching or rubbing can make the skin red, irritated and itchy. People with conditions like dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis etc. are more prone to scalp sensitivity. Avoid excessive hand-to-scalp contact to prevent disturbing the delicate facial skin. Be gentle while washing, styling or scratching your hair.

Tips for managing scalp sensitivity:

  • Wash scalp gently with lukewarm water
  • Use soft, chemical-free hair products
  • Avoid harsh styling treatments
  • Wear loose hairstyles
  • Seek professional help for scalp conditions

It Can Worsen Dandruff

Rubbing or scratching your flaky, itchy scalp will only aggravate dandruff further. The friction helps spread the flaky skin cells all over your scalp, shoulders and hair. It also upsets the microenvironment of your scalp and promotes faster yeast growth. Refrain from touching your scalp repeatedly when suffering from dandruff. Be gentle while washing or combing your hair. Let medicated shampoos work on reducing the dandruff first before giving in to the itch-scratch impulse.

Ways to control dandruff:

  • Use anti-dandruff shampoo 2-3 times a week
  • Massage scalp gently with fingertips when washing
  • Brush hair and scalp gently to remove loose flakes
  • Stay hydrated and maintain general scalp health

It Can Cause Scalp Acne

Your scalp contains sebaceous glands that keep your hair follicles lubricated. When these glands produce excess oil and get clogged, it results in scalp acne. Excessive touching and scrubbing of your scalp can irritate the hair follicles. This further stimulates the sebaceous glands and makes scalp acne worse. The bacteria on your hands can also block pores and trigger breakouts. Avoid touching existing scalp acne and minimize hand-to-scalp contact whenever possible.

Tips to prevent scalp acne:

  • Wash hair regularly with a gentle cleanser
  • Limit touching/scrubbing your scalp
  • Avoid harsh hair styling products
  • Use topical acne medications if needed
  • Wear hair loose to allow airflow

It Can Make Oily Hair Worse

If you have an oily scalp, constantly touching it will only make matters worse. The friction from rubbing your scalp speeds up sebum production. This will make your roots appear greasier at a faster rate. Resist touching or scratching your scalp throughout the day. Use blotting paper or dry shampoo to absorb excess oil as needed. Washing hair too often can stimulate the sebaceous glands and worsen greasiness. Stick to a regular hair washing routine using a gentle cleanser.

Tips for controlling oily scalp:

  • Shampoo hair twice or thrice a week max
  • Use a cleansing conditioner instead of shampoo
  • Rinse with cool water after washing
  • Avoid heavy oils or moisturizers
  • Use dry shampoo between washes

It Can Cause Scalp Redness and Irritation

Rubbing or scratching your scalp excessively can make the skin red, inflamed and itchy. Yeast, fungus or bacteria entering damaged skin can trigger swelling. Scalp irritation from chemicals in hair products can worsen with friction from constant touching. Avoid disturbing your scalp skin by limiting hand contact throughout the day. Be gentle while washing, combing or styling your hair. See a dermatologist if the redness or itching persists.

Relieving a red, irritated scalp:

  • Avoid scratching or touching the scalp
  • Use a gentle, soothing shampoo
  • Rinse hair with cool water
  • Apply aloe vera gel to calm the skin
  • Wear loose hairstyles to minimize friction
  • Take antihistamines to control itching

It Can Make Scalp Psoriasis Worse

If you suffer from scalp psoriasis, scratching or picking at your scalp can make the condition much worse. The plaques can spread further, become more inflamed and even start bleeding. Resist the urge to touch or rub the affected areas. Be extremely gentle while combing or washing your hair. Use medicated shampoos, scalp treatments and medication as advised by your dermatologist. Avoid triggers like stress, skin injury, bacteria and harsh hair products.

Treating scalp psoriasis flare-ups:

  • Apply prescribed topical medications
  • Use a coal tar shampoo 2-3 times a week
  • Gently massage the scalp when washing hair
  • Avoid touching or scratching lesions
  • Manage stress through yoga, meditation etc
  • Keep scalp moisturized

It Can Lead to Hair Loss

Excessively touching your hair and scalp can damage follicles and cause hair loss over time. The friction stresses out the roots, disturbs the growth cycle and causes strands to shed prematurely. Hair loss issues like alopecia areata, telogen effluvium, trichotillomania etc. can also get aggravated by constant picking and pulling at the scalp. Avoid unnecessary hand-to-scalp contact and adopt gentle hair care practices. Handle your scalp with care to support healthy hair regrowth.

Preventing touch-related hair loss:

  • Avoid constantly running hands through hair
  • Use fingertips when shampooing
  • Gently pat dry wet hair instead of rubbing
  • Avoid tight hairstyles that pull on scalp
  • Reduce stress through relaxation techniques

It Can Transfer Product Buildup

Touching your scalp when there’s product residue like hairspray, gel, mousse etc can spread the buildup. This leaves hairstyling product residue all over your scalp and leads to irritation over time. Your scalp and hair pores can get clogged too. Avoid excessive scalp contact after styling your hair. Use a clarifying shampoo once a week to dissolve residue. Rinse your hair thoroughly after applying hairstyling products.

Removing scalp product buildup:

  • Clarify weekly with a chelating shampoo
  • Massage scalp gently when washing
  • Rinse hair thoroughly after applying products
  • Use your fingertips when applying products
  • Limit touching your hair between washes

It Can Cause Scalp Eczema Flare-ups

If you have eczema on your scalp, scratching or touching the area can easily trigger severe flare-ups. The friction and bacteria transfer can make the skin irritated, red and intensely itchy. Avoid touching or disturbing your scalp when you already have eczema lesions. Be extremely gentle when washing, combing or styling your hair during flare-ups. Follow your dermatologist’s treatment plan to soothe and heal the inflamed skin.

Soothing an eczema flare-up on scalp:

  • Apply cold compresses to minimize itching
  • Take antihistamines for relief from itching
  • Use a prescribed medicated shampoo
  • Avoid scratching or touching lesions
  • Gently massage the scalp when washing hair
  • Minimize stress and follow a skin-friendly diet

It Can Make a Dry, Flaky Scalp Worse

If you suffer from a dry, flaky scalp, avoid touching or scratching it. This can remove the flakes but also disrupt your scalp’s protective barrier. When the flaky skin and debris get under your fingernails, it can get transferred back onto your scalp through touch. Use a shower comb to gently loosen and remove the dry flakes instead of touching them. Moisturize your scalp after washing with coconut, olive or almond oil.

Caring for a dry, flaky scalp:

  • Apply oil/masks weekly to hydrate scalp
  • Use a moisturizing, sulfate-free shampoo
  • Rinse hair with lukewarm water
  • Massage in leave-in conditioner after washing
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Use a humidifier

It Can Aggravate Scalp Eczema

Eczema on the scalp manifests as extremely dry, flaky, red and itchy skin. Scratching or rubbing this sensitive skin will only make matters worse. The friction will remove protective oils, worsen the irritation and spread the rash. Avoid touching your scalp when you have eczema. Be very gentle when shampooing or combing your hair. Follow your doctor’s treatment plan diligently to calm the inflammation.

Controlling scalp eczema:

  • Apply prescribed topical medications
  • Use a coal tar shampoo 2-3 times a week
  • Rinse hair with lukewarm water
  • Avoid scratching or touching the rash
  • Wear loose hairstyles
  • Identify and avoid triggers

It Can Cause More Harm Than Good

Your scalp skin is a sensitive area that requires gentle care for optimal health. Excessive touching usually ends up doing more harm than good in the long run. The friction, bacteria transfer and stimulation of oil glands can trigger new issues or exacerbate existing problems. Unless you need to wash, comb or style your hair, it’s best to leave your scalp alone. Let it balance and heal on its own without constant disturbance through touch.

Conclusion

To summarize, limiting how much you touch your scalp can prevent many adverse effects like infections, irritation, inflammation, hair loss, dandruff, product buildup and more. Be mindful of your hand-to-scalp contact throughout the day. Follow a gentle hair care routine using your fingertips instead of nails when needed. Allow your scalp some breathing room in your hairstyles. See a dermatologist if you have persistent scalp issues. With some care and restraint with touching, your scalp will thank you.