Your scalp is the skin that covers your head that does not include your face. It contains an average of 100 000 hair follicles and within each follicle is the root of your hair. Healthy hair strands begins with a healthy scalp and just like the skin on the other parts of your body, your scalp needs to be properly cared for on a regular basis.

An itchy, dry, flaky, and irritated scalp is a sign that your scalp may need your attention. Here are some tips that will keep your scalp and therefore your hair, healthy.

Gently Massage Your Scalp

Who does not like a head massage? I realize that this is not everyone’s forte, however, for those who enjoy the occasional head rub, know that you are possibly doing something that is very therapeutic for your scalp. In a recent 2016 study on Japanese men, a daily 4 minute, standardized scalp massage resulted in an increase in hair thickness after 24 weeks. The authors suggest that physically stimulating your scalp may result in hair growth, most likely by stretching your hair follicles and promoting circulation to the scalp.

Scalp massage is something that can be done daily or a few times each week. If you suffer from a dry scalp, try applying some jojoba or coconut oil to your fingertips before the treatment. It can be very soothing and nourishing to your hair follicles.

Eat a Balanced Diet

Just like healthy hair begins with a healthy scalp; a healthy scalp begins with what you put into your body. Protein and micronutrients such as zinc and biotin all help to keep your scalp and hair follicles in peak condition. If you have noticed that your hair is thinning, it could be due to a change in or something missing from your diet such as protein. I see this with patients in my practice who are new vegans.

Foods that are high in protein include meat, fish, legumes and beans such as lentils, and eggs. Zinc is another important nutrient involved in scalp health. In particular, a zinc deficiency is associated with dandruff. Foods that contain zinc include pumpkin seeds, red meat, oysters and whole grains. Biotin is essential for maintaining healthy hair follicles. You can find biotin in liver, salmon and green leafy vegetables.

Wash Your Hair (and Scalp) – But Not Too Often

Your hair is exposed to the elements therefore for hygienic reasons, it is essential to keep it clean. Firstly, you should determine the frequency of hair washing that is optimal for you. For a dry to normal scalp, you may only need to cleanse your hair and scalp once or twice each week. If you wash your hair more often, your scalp may become dry and your hair strands may become brittle and susceptible to breakage. People who have curly to kinky hair usually fit into this category. If your hair is greasy, you may need to wash it more frequently. People with straight hair can fall into this category.

Avoid Iron Deficiency

This nutrient is so important for the health of your scalp and hair that it deserves its very own section. Iron is a component of hemoglobin; the protein in your red blood cells that carries oxygen to your tissues and organs including to your scalp.

Therefore iron helps to provide your scalp with nourishment. If you have switched to eating less red meat or if you have a heavy menstrual cycle, be sure to have your iron levels checked by your doctor as over time, a deficiency in iron even without anemia may affect the circulation of blood and nutrients to your scalp which can lead to a dry scalp and thinning hair.

The health of your hair relies on the health of your scalp. Eat a well-balanced diet and supplement with nutrients as needed to keep it healthy. Regularly cleansing your scalp and pampering it with massage will also contribute to a healthy scalp as well as shiny, thick, lustrous locks.

About the Author

Dr. Olivia Rose graduated from the University of Guelph with a Bachelor of Science Honours degree in Nutritional and Nutraceutical Sciences and in 2006, she graduated from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine.

In addition to her private practice, Dr. Rose is the director of Fertility Acupuncture Services, a mobile service that brings acupuncture to couples undergoing in vitro fertilization and intrauterine insemination at Toronto fertility clinics. Her special areas of interest include infertility; children and teen health; stress management; weight loss; heart disease; digestive and immune health; skin rejuvenation and pain management. She is a birth doula and has additional training in cosmetic acupuncture and needle-less therapies for skin rejuvenation and joint pain.

Dr. Rose is a sought-after lecturer for community organizations; a freelance writer and mentor to new graduates. She has been interviewed by various media outlets including Global Toronto’s, “The Morning Show”, “News at Noon” and “News Hour”. In her free time, she unplugs at the spa and she enjoys spending quality time with her husband, son and tea-cup Yorkie. For more information on Dr. Rose's practice and special events, please visit -