Scalp conditions can be very uncomfortable and often embarrassing. There are several different scalp conditions with a wide range of symptoms. If you asking the question, “why does it feel like sand in my hair,” there may be an easy answer. Of course, it is always a good idea to consult with your doctor.

Some people describe these conditions as “hard dandruff” or say it feels like salt on scalp. There are a number of reasons for this happening. This article will help you understand the answer to, “it feels like sand in my hair, why?” There are also some helpful tips for relief from this problem.

It Feels Like Sand in My Hair, Why?

When you say, “It feels like sand in my hair,” to your doctor they will look at a number of causes. There isn’t one single answer to this and it doesn’t necessarily mean you have something infectious like lice or fungal infections. Some of the causes of this include:

DHT (Dihydrotestosterone)

It’s one of the male hormones that is a major player in male pattern baldness. It can build up in the hair follicles and cause hair loss. DHT mixes with the sebum on the scalp and forms “plaques,” or hard substances that can block the pores and cut off the blood supply to the scalp. Treatment involves removing as much of the sebum to prevent build-up of DHT that forms these plaques.


Seborrheic dermatitis

This is actually a pretty common scalp problem and causes hard dandruff. It can also make the scalp red and scaly. It doesn’t only affect the scalp, but any areas of your skin that has oil build-up. The condition isn’t contagious, but can be uncomfortable and embarrassing. It causes patches of flaky scales and crusting. Medicated creams and shampoos can usually keep the condition under control.



Psoriasis affects the skin all over the body and is caused by the overgrowth of skin cells. They build up and turn into thick patches. It can be painful. This is a chronic skin condition and requires life-long management. Treatment is aimed at slowing the growth of skin cells. Doctors usually prescribe steroid creams, retin-A, or coal tar shampoo.


Excessive dandruff

Common dandruff can cause you to think, “It feels like sand in my hair.” When this happens you will notice a large amount of flakes falling out of your hair and on your scalp. This isn’t a serious condition and easily treated with special dandruff shampoos. If your dandruff does not clear up on its own, the doctor may need to prescribe you a stronger medicated shampoo.

This condition can happen to babies and is often referred to as “cradle cap.” You will notice a grainy and sandy like substance in patches on your baby’s head. This is a very common condition in babies and easily taken care of by using baby shampoo and brushing the scalp with a soft baby brush. Do not use adult medication shampoos on babies.

If this is the cause, you can try these remedies for dandruff here.


Fungal infection

When you have a fungal infection on your scalp, it can cause itchy red patches on the scalp area. It can also lead to hair loss. If the infection is left untreated, it will lead to grainy and scaly patches on the head. These are usually treated with anti-fungal creams and shampoos.



Lice leave “nits” on the hair, which are actually the eggs. Bunches of nits can look like salt on scalp areas and be stuck to the actual hair. This needs treatment with a medicated lice shampoo and is highly contagious. You will need to treat the hair for lice and wash any bedding and clothing in hot water. All family members and close contacts should be treated as well.

If this is the cause, you can try these remedies for head lice here.

It Feels Like Sand in My Hair, What to Do?

If you feel like you have sand in your hair, give yourself a good hair washing with a gentle shampoo. Skip the hair conditioner because this can make certain conditions worse. If the condition persists, see your doctor to make sure you don’t have lice or an infectious condition. If all is okay, you can try some of these helpful tips others have tried:

“I have found that mixing an acidic shampoo with a conditioner that is considered a base causes a build-up of grains on the scalp. I don’t use conditioner on my scalp anymore and only apply it to the ends of my hair. I also do an apple cider vinegar rinse to help take off any build-up. When I have this really bad, I stop using conditioner altogether until the graininess goes away.”


“If your doctor says that you have Dermodex mites, you can try using tea tree oil to clear them. Dermodex mites feed on the sebum in your hair follicles. When they go into your skin, they push out skin cells that can feel like grains of sand.”


“I sometimes get something that feels like sand in my hair, but I also had acne break outs when it happened. I was checked for lice and that wasn’t the problem. They said it could possibly be the “Dermodex mite” that infests the head. It happens to people that have low immunity and mine came on after antibiotic use. I found tea tree oil to be very helpful.”


“For over 16 years I have suffered from what feels like sand in my hair. It is also on my hands and feet. I have tried everything and this does not go away. Finally, I read about how we all need to get enough vitamin D because it is a type of hormone that our body needs for lots of things. I started taking around 1500 i.u. daily and it began to finally clear up.”


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