Help for itching heads
Thanks to whoever it was who suggested Tea Tree Oil. I bought a bottle (a very small bottle that cost me $12.00) and used 5 drops in the shampoo. I didn't itch for the rest of that day. Then this morning, I itched in a couple of spots and I just dabbed the dropper on the itchy spots and the itching stopped. I'm very pleased with the result because I haven't been able to find anything to stop the scalp itching.
I use aromatherapy as part of my practice and Tea-tree oil is one of my favorites (I am a doula). Anyhow, just wanted to say that it is very stinky to some and also can cause skin irritation if you use too much. Never use more that 1-3 drops at a time and if you mix with equal drops of Lavendar oil to make it even more effective and smell better. Lavender is also a natural relaxing agent and can help with us stress-out types! For my scalp I prefer to use a mixture of Rosemary oil and Jojoba oil mixed in my palms and rubbed on my scalp every night. Rosemary is a hair-growth stimulant herb and jojoba feels good on the scalp too.
All- I found a herbal shampoo at Target by Nature's Gate, called" Rainwater Herbal Tea Tree Oil" shampoo. It was only $3.99 with a dollar off on the bottle. Also, there is a Rosemary Conditioner. No animal testing or byproducts.( which I think is great) I used it for the first time today and it stopped by itchy scalp almost right away. I will keep you all posted. Anyone who does not have a Target near you here is the address on the bottle.
Check out the info on Cuticura soap - could be very helpful too!
I am convinced there is a definite link between oiliness and the itch that sometimes triggers pulling. I have some admittedly anecdotal research that indicates a reduction in oiliness in so-called hot spots can at least bring about some relief and improved comfort level in some pullers. I have had good reports on the Sea Breeze Astringent I sent out with the kits. As will all astringents, it aids in removal of excess oiliness. In addition to alcohol, it also has camphor and phenol, which reduce the threshold of perception and stimulate the skin, both of which aid in masking the itch. I put small spritz bottles of Sea Breeze in the kits for immediate spot treatment when the itch strikes. Some the kids really liked it. Sea Breeze also comes in packets, like the ones the Colonel used to hand out with his chicken, which are also very convenient. For my giant hives, I even carry a couple in wallet.
Hope this helps. Mike
Using a tip from another TTMer, I tried heavily saturating my eyebrows with rubbing alcohol. This helped a great deal. My guess is that it is penetrating enough to get into the hair follicle, where it may partially dissolve some of the irritating chemicals there (yeast-generated or not!) and wick them to the surface. Maybe it even killed off some yeasts. It left the skin feeling dry, but under the circumstances, that was better than greasy and itchy.
Home remedies for scalp itch and sores (Thanks to
Mike Grant for this info)
The feedback that I have gotten from the kits I sent out some time ago suggest
the following over the counter preparations may be effective in dealing with
the scalp itch and sores that may be present with ttm. This list and
suggestions are offered only as suggestions and not intended as a substitute
for professional medical care. As John says, your mileage may vary.
The Cuticura soap referenced in the medical abstract was found to be
preferable to the castile and barber's soaps. I have a source for this
product, and within reason, will be pleased to send you a bar if you cannot
locate this product in your area. I know there is (or was) a Cuticura Shampoo
but it seems to be as rare as Presidential appearances at "Just Say No"
conferences of late. A friend found a few bottles at her local drugstore
which she generously has shared. The company that owns the Cuticura brand is
in Chapter 11 proceedings.
The aloe vera gel appears to be effective. The original product that was used
on Terri also contains some herbal and floral essences, such as camomile,
while has been discussed here. It smells nice and the extra ingredients may
help some, but others may be allergic to the extra components. So I also
located a clear hypoallergic product.
The topical anesthetic used in the triple antibiotic plus ointment for sores
proved not to be very effective in relieving either soreness or itch. The
antibiotic may still be usefull in healing sores where healing may be retarded
due to low grade superficial infection.
Camphor spirit proved to be the most effective agent in relieving itching and
soreness, though some care is required in its use.
Massaging and the clay masque may be of significant benefit to some where
List follows. Again, this is first aid. See your doctor if symptoms persist.
1 Bar Cuticura Soap
1 Bottle Sea Breeze Astringent
1 Bottle Aloe Vera Gel - Clear
1 Bottle Aloe Vera Gel with Herbal Extracts - Green
1 Spray bottle - Sea Breeze Astringent
1 Tube Triple Antibiotic Ointment
1 Tube Hydrocortisone Ointment - 1%
1 Tube Hydrocortisone Cream - 1%
! Tube Diphenhydramine Cream - 1%
1 Tube Miconazole Nitrate Cream - 2%
1 Bottle Camphor Spirit
1 Bag cotton balls and swabs
These are over the counter first aid products and not intended as a substitute
for profession medical care. Based on the responses I have had, here are
some suggestions for using them:
Wet hair thoroughly with warm water. Rub bar over hair and lather, adding
more water or soap as needed to obtain a rich lather. Rinse with warm water.
Repeat leaving lather on head. Saturate a towel with hot water, wringing out
excess, and wrap towel around head. Allow to remain until towel temperature
of towel feels cool. Remove towel and rinse soap thoroughly from hair with
warm warm. After the soap has been removed, gradually decrease rinse water
temperature until as cool as tolerable. Continue to rinse for a minute or two
with the cool water. Leave hair wet.
Sea Breeze Astringent (bottle)
After shampooing, apply liberally to damp hair massaging into scalp. Massage
thoroughly for about 1 minute. A very pleasant feeling should be felt about
20 to 30 seconds after application. Do not rinse. Comb hair and all to dry
naturally. If time does not permit natural drying, use a hair dryer on
coolest or "air only" setting.
May be applied to "hot spots" as needed to provide near immediate relief from
itching. On unbroken skin, application results in a pleasant cool sensation
almost immediately with relief lasting for up to several hours. May be
reapplied as needed. On broken skin or sores, may sting because of the
alcohol base. For open sores and broken skin, moist a cotton swab with the
camphor spirit and brief touch effected area. A moderate stinging sensation
will be felt which will dissipate in about minute, after which the camphor
spirit can be applied freely without discomfort. In addition to itch relief,
the camphor spirit also relieves soreness as well. The best time of
application is immediately after shampooing and drying. Part hair as needed
to apply to directly to the scalp avoiding the hair as much as possible.
Reapply as needed during the day with cotton swab. Never insert a used cotton
swab into the bottle to avoid possible contamination.
Triple Antibiotic Ointment
Used to treat open sores to treat superficial infection which may retard
healing. After shampooing and drying the hair, squeeze a small amount onto
cotton swab and apply directly to sore, parting hair as needed to avoid
getting into hair. A thin coat once or twice a day should suffice. Use after
applying camphor spirit.
Hydrocortisone Ointment - 1%
Used to treat badly inflammed areas or sores. Apply directly to effected
areas on scalp after shampooing and drying the hair. Use a cotton swab and
part hair as needed to avoid getting into hair. A thin coat once or twice a
day with suffice. For sores, use after the triple antibiotic ointment.
Recommended for overnight.
Hydrocortisone Cream - 1%
Used to treat moderately inflammed or itching areas. Because the cream blends
into the hair and scalp, it can be used more freely over larger areas and
during the day. Best used after shampooing and drying, may be applied with
finger tips to the scalp. For sores, it is best to spot treat with the
hydrocortisone ointment even if using the cream for other areas.
Diphenhydramine Cream - 1%
Can reduce itching if an possible allergic reaction is involved. May be used
alone or with hydrocortisone cream or ointment. If scalp is reddened or
severely itching, it is best used after the hydrocortisone has been used for
several days when the itching is less intense. Begin by using in conjunction
with the hydrocortisone for about a week. Continue using without
hydrocortisone. If itch or inflammation returns, discontinue and resume using
hydrocortisone. Best used after shampooing and drying. If using with
hydrocortisone, apply afterwards.
Miconazole Nitrate Cream - 2%
This is a specific antifungal/anti-yeast agent which has helped reduce itching
and other symptoms in some trichotillomania sufferers. Apply to "hot spots"
once a day. Cream allows general application over larger areas. If used with
any of the other products, this should be applied last. A cotton swab may be
used on sores or small areas. Fingertip or cotton balls may be used for
larger areas. If improvement is not seen with two weeks or condition worsens,
Sea Breeze Astringent - spray bottle
Used during the day to relieve minor itching and/or freshen the scalp. Apply
as need. The product is quick drying. For intense itching, use camphor
Some more responses by John Kender
S. asks if antibiotic soaps kill off good bacteria and cause yeasts to grow,
and also some questions about Sea Breeze.
First: generally, no, the antibiotic soaps kill everything. What often
happens when a person "takes" (that is, ingests) drugs that are targetted for
bacteria is that the yeasts do survive and multiply without the competition
from the good bacteria which also get killed off, and people get things like
thrush and other yeast infections. But the stuff you can buy over the counter
for external use is not as specific in its action, so you generally wipe out
the yeasts, too.
Sea Breeze comes in an alcohol vehicle, and the alcohol is indeed drying. I
have no idea about how it would affect a wig. I used it periodically (about 2
or 3 times in a day) on hot spots when I had my tomato seed attack, but I
don't know how one would use it regularly.
Over the past week, I bought some tea tree oil out of curiousity. It is
expensive ($10/ounce) and smells like lemony turpentine. It has no alcohol,
and is a thin oil in consistency. When I tested it on my eyebrow hot spot
(which was not acting up), it seemed to tingle a bit and then soothe some.
My guess with either product is that because of the odors (which are similar,
and come from a family of chemicals called terpenes, also in Vicks Vaporub,
Campho-Phenique, Listerine, Ben-Gay, and Gold Bond Powder), applying it to hot
spots at night would probably be best, as the smell will fade by morning.
Having tried *all* of the above in the interest of science, I like the tea
tree oil best and Sea Breeze second. Ben-Gay and Campho-Phenique, which have
the most camphor and are in penetrating vehicles, both made me dizzy and
nauseous, a known adverse effect of camphor. What seems to work best is
finding a way to get the topical anesthetic effect and the antifungal effect
without the mind-messing effect.
As John mentioned regular Sea Breeze is alcohol based and while there are non-
alcohol variants, I have not done any testing with these other Sea Breeze
products. Sea Breeze is an astringent, and like all astringents, is drying to
the skin. This is due to two mechanisms, one being the constriction of the
pores, the other is the solvent effect of the alcohol. The drying action
removes the natural skin oils and grease which form a vapor barrier to retain
moisture in the outer layers of the skin. In some cases, an excess of these
oils have been demonstrated in the so-called hot spots some pullers
experience. These oily substances may be the food supply for Johm's yeast as
well as the recently discussed demodex mite.
It is important to note that these oils do not directly moisturize the skin.
The moisture comes from the underlying living layers of the skin. The oils
merely supply a vapor barrier to keep this moisture from evaporating at and
near the surface the surface of the skin. The skin needs water, not grease.
The yeast and mites need grease, not just water. So the idea is to find an
alternative vapor barrier for the skin which is not appealing to the yeast nor
mites to replace the natural skin oils stripped by the anstringent.
I have found aloe vera gel to be effective for this purpose. There are a wide
variety of manufacturers of these products, each added their own additives. I
have used the Nature's Family Pure Aloe Vera gel which contains camomile and
other herbal extracts as well as a clear pure product. In the responses I
have gotten so far, most like the herbally enhanced product although at least
one had a sensitivity, most likely to one or more of the additional
components. Aloe vera extract itself rarely produces an kind of sensitivity
reaction and is oftentimes used in hypoallergenic products.
The procedure I recommend is through cleansing of the area using Cuticura
followed by Sea Breeze. Sometimes this regimen is further augments by a
bentonite masque to deep clean the skin of oils and grease. This removes much
of the skin oil and grease present. Immediately following the cleansing, aloe
vera gel is applied to form a vapor barrier to prevent the skin from losing
its moisture. The aloe vera also helps calm the nerve endings and in itself
reduces the irritation that causes the itching sensation.
A vapor barrier is just that, it contains vapors such as water vapor which
provides the necessary vapor pressure to keep the liquid water in the skin
cells from evaporating. However, it also prevents other vapors from escaping
as well. What one smells after apply Sea Breeze is vapors arising from the
evaporation of the volatile components on the surface of the skin. The same
application of aloe vera which retains the skin moisture, also help retains
the volatiles from the Sea Breeze, enhancing the effectiveness as well as
reducing the aroma.
John mentions camphor products. Spirit of camphor can be commonly found in
most drug stores and is around $1 or so for a two ounce bottle. The price
however varies widely. It is alcohol based, about 85 percent in fact. This
is extremely effective on sores, particularly of the weeping variety, but must
be applied with care. The analgesic effect is nearly instantaneous and lasts
for several hours. Again, it has been found using a vapor barrier to occlude
the area increases the effectiveness as well as limits the smell, which is
medicinal, though not unpleasant. I have found an ointment based wide
spectrum antibiotic and/or hydrocortisone product to be an effective vapor
barrier as well as providing other therapeutic benefits. Many sores do not
readily resolve themselves because of either low grade infection and/or
inflammation. My personal experience with my daughter has been if the sores
can ever be completely resolved, she was far less likely to spontaneously
start picking on normal skin even though she could not resist picking at any
As for the soaps, most contain antiseptics rather than antibiotics. As John
said, antiseptics kill everything as opposed to just certain forms of
bacteria. That includes living tissue as well, which is why antiseptics
cannot be ingested and are always used topically. Not to worry, the outer
layers of our skin are not living and neither is our hair.
Hope this helps.