Witch hazel is commonly used to treat minor skin irritations such as insect bites. However, it has other potential uses in skin medicine including the treatment of various eczemas, acne, and blistered skin. Recent evidence would suggest that witch hazel may have benefits for red scalp.
Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) has been used for hundreds of years to treat superficial skin wounds and inflammatory skin conditions. Interestingly, history teaches us that native Americans produced witch hazel extract by boiling the stems of the shrubs. These extracts were then used to treat inflammatory conditions.
In 2014, Dr Trueb and colleagues reported outcomes of a witch hazel shampoo (Erol shampoo) in 1,373 patients. The shampoo is composed of extracts of H. virginiana and a shampoo base that is devoid of cocamidopropyl betaine and parabens.After a period of application of 4 weeks, the majority of patients reported an improvement of subjective manifestations of irritation, and rated the tolerance of both products as good to excellent. Overall, the majority of the patients were satisfied with the products.
The conclusion of the study was that this particular witch hazel shampoo should at least be considered in patients presenting with sensitive scalp and related conditions, such as the red scalp syndrome, and scalp burn-out.
Trueb et al. North American Virginian Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana): Based Scalp Care and Protection for Sensitive Scalp, Red Scalp, and Scalp Burn-Out. Int J Trichology. 2014 Jul-Sep; 6(3): 100–103.
Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss. To schedule a consultation, please call the Whistler office at 604.283.1887