When it comes to Ask Afrobella hair questions, I may try to offer my two cents based on personal experience. But for this very specific Ask Afrobella question, I needed the sage advice of an expert. If you’ve ever dealt with flaky scalp issues, this may help you!
Love your work. Your site is so refreshing and insightful. So I’ve been struggling with a skin and scalp condition that has only gotten much worse since I moved to the Midwest about a year and 1/2 ago. Haven’t been able to see a dermatologist about the issue yet so I don’t know for sure what it is, but my layman’s opinion from internet research is that I have plaque psoriasis.
I went natural in 1995 and since then have had only one relaxer and rarely press my hair. So, I’ve been really mad at my hair breakage, since I was expecting to have waist length hair by now. Its hard to see other people go natural and seem to accomplish way more length way faster than you. Sorry about the digression there. My question is about salon etiquette concerning my skin and scalp condition. I’ve wanted to go to a salon and get a “Dominican press” but I’ve been too embarrassed. I’ve wanted to get braids and have considered dreads and Sister-locks but those styles show your scalp. When I comb or brush my hair I have enough flakes to make my own snow globe, which I wish was an exaggeration.
I feel like a biblical leper who has to yell unclean wherever they go so people could get out of the way. The irony is how many people compliment me on my “good hair”. I say thank you but wonder how they don’t see my crazy scalp and horrendous split ends. Keeping my hair curly tends to help hide these issues.
Am I just a coward about going to a salon or do I need to inform the stylist before they touch my hair? I’ve tried frequent washing, nothing gets rid of the giant scales that won’t go away with washing. The only difference is when I wash my hair the scales are wet, but just as much as dry combing or brushing. The scales are a pain if not impossible to clean out of brushes and combs.
I know this is all over the place but even natural hair blogs don’t talk about skin and scalp conditions beyond dandruff and how people who want to be natural with hair ingredients are coping or overcoming their situation. What about people who like me have dead scalp in their eyebrows. I want to scrub it out without losing my brows or making them patchy.
I thought you might have some insight or know someone who does. I’ve just been dealing with this issue in the last 10 years. I originally blamed a bad relaxer I got for my scalp condition. My scalp has never been the same since then. I grew up not knowing quite a bit about how to do black hair. I didn’t know your not supposed wash or comb your hair right before a relaxer which I did. Then there was the negligent stylist who was eating lunch while I had chemicals on in my hair and told me to let him know when it was getting too hot. That was my senior year of high school and my last salon relaxer. The next day my hair was silky straight but my scalp was crusty and oozing. Now my son has developed a scalp issue almost as bad as mine nearly over night.
I know you’re busy so thanks for listening.
Aphro Dynamite, thanks so much for reading and for writing me with this question! So often we might think we have a medical issue, and remain inactive about dealing with it because of finances, lack of insurance, fear, or D – all of the above. Please know, I’m right there with you. Been there, done that. Often we find ways to “deal with the problem” without truly DEALING with the problem. So to you I say congrats! By writing me, you’ve started the ball rolling on truly DEALING with the problem. That’s step one.
Step two is picking up the phone and making an appointment to see a professional who can accurately diagnose and help you deal with your scalp issues. A hairdresser who knows how to deal with psoriasis is just the beginning. A dermatologist is a must.
But on a question of this nature, I can only give you so much advice. So I turned to a professional I admire greatly – Camille E. Reed, owner of Noire Salon in Baltimore. Camille is an evangelist for natural hair, an expert in her field, and a truly knowledgable and professional resource who knows her stuff.
Take it away, Camille!
“Having psoriasis is stressful and your anxiety about going to a salon is completely valid. Get two kinds of doctors on your and your son’s team, a Dermatologist and an Immunologist.
Your skin is the largest organ on your body and the biggest reflection of the efficiency of your endocrine system. Psoriasis has triggers such as stress (compromises the immune system), diet (alcohol consumption & cigarette smoking bother the liver and the skin’s filtering abilities). Injury to the skin is also a major trigger, and in your case…is likely to have been the starting point of your psoriasis battle.
There is also a genetic susceptibility, so its also very likely that your son’s condition is mimicking yours.
Coal Tar shampoos are the most effective over-the-counter treatment until you can see the aforementioned doctors. Please get them involved in your care, as the skin disturbances from psoriasis can become infected and lead to further complications.
Shop for an educated hair stylist who is familiar with skin conditions and sensitivities, who will also follow the doctors instructions on product usage during your hair appointments.
The best of luck to you and please keep me informed of your progress.”
If you’re ever in Baltimore, you can go see Camille at Noire Salon yourself. If you’re not, you can follow her on Twitter @Noireboss1 – she’s always tweeting wisdom and natural hair inspiration.
Hope that helps, Aphro Dynamite – all the best and please keep in touch!