Dermatology Community
Scalp Condition - Grainy Sand/Sugar
About This Community:

This forum is for questions regarding Dermatology issues, such as: rashes, acne, birthmarks, skin infections, rosacea, and general skin care.

Font Size:
A
A
A
Background:
Blank
Blank
Blank
Blank Blank

Scalp Condition - Grainy Sand/Sugar

I found this website through a google for "sand on scalp", and I found a journal entry from someone here at http://www.medhelp.org/user_journals/show/12858/scalp-condition that I wanted to draw attention to on this forum.  Everyone on that journal suffers form the same issue I do.

For the past two years, I have what feel and appear to be like grains of sand on my scalp.  They seem to be "attached" to the base of the hair shafts, but when I massage my scalp gently with my fingertips, they come off.  My scalp has 100s of them.  If I scratch my head, the itching sensation is INTENSE, and I try never to scratch my scalp.  If I do give in, and scrape a few dozen of them off, I can get them out form under my fingernails (gross, I know), and they look like grains of sugar or sand.  They are hard like grains of sand.  You can not "squish" them.  

They are not lice...my husband is an RN, and he has looked at my scalp many times, and we are certain of this.  The dermatologists I have seen also tell me they are not lice, but seem to be unconcerned, and give me no suggestions of how to stop them or the itching, except to use dandruff shampoo - which does absolutely nothing.

You can see more details of exactly what all of us (over 70 posts at that link) are going through - very similar to exact same stories.  They are not flake-like at all.  Any suggestions would be appreciated, thanks in advance.  We are all looking for answers to this mystery, and would love to hear some new ideas.  So far, suggestions have been Morgellons disease, White piedra, Demodex folliculorum, and the one I lean towards: seborrheic dermatitis.  However, not being FLAKES seems to rule the last one out!?  Help?
Related Discussions
36 Comments Post a Comment
Blank
1548538_tn?1293875433
ps. I hope I was not breaking the URL rule of posting since I did not post to another website, but rather another area of MedHelp.  This is my first post.
Blank
1548538_tn?1293875433
In the original journal post I referenced at the top of this thread there is a post someone made about a balding treatment, and at their website I found this info:

"Q:   A lot of hard granules come out when I do treatment. They are like small grains of sand. Is this normal?
A:   The hard, sand like granules are DHT crystals. With many balding persons there are waxy granules and hard granules under the scalp. The hard granules vary in size and colour. They can be as large as 1mm wide (see image, click to enlarge) and vary in colour from clear to brown to black. Many balding persons have literally thousands of these hard granules under the scalp! The hard granules in the image were collected from one client in just two treatment sessions"

Great!  Now I am AFRAID I AM GOING BALD!!!  Has anyone heard of these?  A search for DHT crystals on MedHelp came up blank.
Blank
1548538_tn?1293875433
ps. google shoows up NOTHING for DHT crystals on scalp so I am extremely suspicious of said Thailand treatment.

Sign me,
feeling better but still seeking answers
Blank
Avatar_n_tn
http://www.stopskinmites.com
this might be it as well.
I have the same condition as you. Try Vogel's neem oil shampoo also daily. Hug and courage.
Blank
Avatar_n_tn
is it possible that you might fall under this category? http://*****************/question/index?qid=20100122170531AAf3DhQ
Also this other site offered some suggestions:
http://www.articlesbase.com/diseases-and-conditions-articles/scalp-conditions-fungus-cure-for-infections-of-the-scalp-that-causes-extreme-itching-2545944.html
Blank
Avatar_n_tn
the first link is talking about bile salts for a gall bladder issue.  something about the body not processing fats like it ought to and affecting your skin as a result.
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
Everyone who suffers from itchy scalp, constant rummaging around on it with your fingernails searching for sandy grains to pluck them out, and losing a lot of hair in the shower, and during brushing, and combing, should use Johnson's BABY SHAMPOO. After one use, its like brand new scalp. Also, when conditioning, limit that to twice a week. I did not condition my scalp, just the ends of my hair, when using baby shampoo.
I have been to the doctors twice and they wanted to tell me I was allergic to something from suffering for 2 years from this condition.
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
Well at least I finally see I am not the only person with this.  MY doctor told me to buy head and shoulders and put it on my head with my hair dry and let it soak in and then finally wash and rinse!  Don't ever do that!  I had one heck of a time getting the shampoo out.  But I did find a shampoo that is for Psoriasis even though this isn't that disease I thought I'd give it a whirl and it really helps !!!  I am out of it right now and I forget the name of it but you can get it in Kmart or Walmart.  They now have it with conditioner in it but I don't like that one. It is a little expensive but well worth it.  Good luck!!
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
I used equal parts vinegar and water on my hair applying it with a squeeze bottle and let it sit in for 20 mins. I have long hair and strategically applied the liquid as evenly as i could everywhere. Seems like the build up on my scalp almost melted with the acidic mixture because at one point it almost felt like I had conditioner in my hair, it was so slick. The first time I did it, I found immediate results. The 2nd time I did it, my scalp dried out too much and became tight and itchy starting the cycle all over again. I'm not going to give up as the vinegar is the only treatment I found with quick results, plus it's vinegar. Does get any cheaper or available. Anyways, this is still a work in progress but wanted to share my experience this far for anyone wanted to try it out.
I have been sooo tempted to shave my head completely and slough off my scalp with a black towel just to get a visual on what's going on under my hair but my husband would most likely object. :)
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
I too have been suffering from this. It all started back in 2008/9  it first started happening or I notiticed it more when I used a really cheap shampoo. I tried biologe shampoos for dandrif but it did nothing. So I just dealt with it. It did get better after a will. It then came back. Usually comes at times of stress. I just read a comment above about it having something to do with gallbladder.  Last year I went to the hospital for a cold and they ended up finding that I had gal stones but nothing to worry the doctor said they were small. But NW I am wondering if. This has anything to do with it. I am somewhat over weight from having kids and have not been able to lose this weight. When this did start it was also the point in my life I was the heaviest. I have not been to the doctor about this. I did one time put baby oil in my hair and then washed it out with baby shampoo..this did help alitle but then it can back. Not sure what to do! Hope we all can resolve this!
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
It's something to do with mixing acids and bases. Shampoo is acidic, conditioner is basic and is supposed to neutralize it but your scalp is naturally acidic ( pH of 5) the granular build up is the by product of the neutralizing. Salt maybe? That's why you are only supposed to put conditioner on your ends. Try washing your hair in diluted apple cider vinegar to restore the pH and remove the buildup. Skip the conditioner entirely for a bit and it will clear up.
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
I'm not sure if its the same thing, but while searching the internet for what is going on with my scalp (same problem as everyone else here) I read about DHT.  I drink a daily protein drink so I was thinking maybe the "sand" was excess protein or some other vitamin, this is what I read "some non-organic shakes have ingredients like creatine, which increases muscle mass. Ingredients that increase muscle mass, like these, also raise testosterone levels. When there is high testosterone, there can be high levels of DHT which can contribute to hair loss".
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
any one have oral anti fungal treatment 6 or more than one year.most of fungas inflation must have treat number of several month.treat regulary
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
I have this same problem, but i was able to "squish" the granules between 2 glass slides. I work in a diagnostic lab. When I looked at the "squished" granules under the microscope, it was nothing more than a large ball of squamous cell epithelials (normal skin cells).
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
hi freind/
this is solution.
my sand like practce totaly gone away. i used keto plus shampoo.beclomin lotion.and one srilankan shampoo/bath every day.but hair is falling yet.my skin is dryness.this is some dandreff/dwndreff can flareup any day.so you use this regulary/ my e mail ***@****
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
I couldn`t wait to get back to others w/this horrible itchy problem.  I couldn`t remember exactly what I had read, searching all over the internet about this. But, I was grocery shopping and remembered VINEGAR. Wasn`t sure but bought Apple Cider Vinegar. Was too anxious to look process up so washed my hair - shampooed twice - rinsed again,  then poued the vinegarr full strength from the bottle  over my head (duh, some got in eyes, had to grab a towel and splash water on my eyes). As I have aged, gray,dyed, tangled hair, I did put conditioner half-way to ends. Wrapped w/towel and let it do it`s job, then rinsed. SO GLAD TO BE ABLE TO TELL YOU - IT FREAKIN` WORKED!!!! I know I will have to do this for awhile to make sure but what a feeling to not SCRATCH!!! and itch out those horrifying white balls!  Since, I have read `Floris`s` article in `AMAZINGLY .com` magazine. I HIGHLY recommend it. It`s a fungus. He has done GREAT research and this article will set ya on a great, and more correct I imagine, regimen.  I am so HAPPY already.  Good Luck to all of you! I sure hope it works for you!
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
I has this condition only in one patch of my head and i started loosing hair in this section too my doctor (in india ) prescribed me Betnovate Scalp application and it worked like magic.
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
I WOULD love to see how its going my scalp and hair is just like that i have tried everything i hope you get back to me about how long to leave vinegar on and etc i hope it is still working my scalp is driving me crazy 3 yrs
                                                      thank you debbie
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
Hi, I think I know what it is, and it's one of two things - as I get it, but it's not massively itchy...

It's either salt crystals that come out of my follicles (usually only after I use a shampoo with SLS - if you try a sulfate free shampoo you'll notice those crystals disappear!)

Or it's KERATINOSIS - which I also suffer from. If you read up on KP, you can see if affects people that suffer from Exczema (eczema), and very common. So those little grains are probably little plugs of keratin that come out from your hair follicle.
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
GREAT NEWS!!! I THINK I I FIXED IT!!! have had this condition for several months now...where when you run your hands through your hair predominately at the base you get little whittish/clear grainy pieces in your finger nails.... In my case I would even feel some on my pillow case when I woke up in the morning. Kind of like if you've ever played softball, and put on a batting helmet that had been kicked around in the dirt a bit, and then after the game you felt "grit" in your hair...That is similar to what it felt like, only accompanied by an annoying dull itch. Also it seemed like my hair would get oily faster than it then it had previously. Well, I read somewhere that if you are experiencing ANY sort of scalp condition try using Johnsons's baby shampoo. So I figured "what's the worse that could happen? I would be wasting 5 bucks?" I made a trip to Walmart, picked up the shampoo while I was there I found a brand called " Clear Scalp & Hair Beauty Therapy" ( It's in a purple bottle) on the back it claimed " clinically proven to restore scalp's natural moisture balence" I though "what the heck...I really need some sort of conditioner...because my hair is too processed to go without conditioner" so I bought a bottle of that to. (PS it comes in many different options depending on your hair type...I chose "damage & color repair" because I bleach my hair often) I used  the Johnson's Baby Shampoo first, then followed that with the conditioner I bought ( it says on the back "to massage into scalp as well as hair") and the results where almost immediate! Normally, the grains come back within a few hours of washing my hair, this time they didn't, the itching was completely gone! The next morning, I checked my pillow case and hair...no grains! My scalp still had a slight itch...but no where near as intense as it had been, and that's just after one use! Also, my hair is back to not feeling oily, it feels clean and healthy once more. I'm completely confident that if keep up this routine, my symptom's will clear up entirely. I really really recommend trying this! It's an expensive no hassle approach, and it cost me a total of $10.17 at Wal-Mart. I hope this helps! And that you get the same relief that I did!
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
It's Demodex mites. They are terrible to get rid of. Tea tree and neem oil work the best. There are lotions and oral medications for scabies that work on them as well. They feed on sebum and hair follicles, depending on which type of mite. There are 2 that live on humans. That's why your hair falls out. The little grains are balls of skin the mites have bitten and pushed out of the way to bury in your skin. They come out to mate, usually at night, but anytime there is a lack of UV light they will come out. That's why you itch more at night. You need to change pillow cases and towels daily. Don't rewear clothes either. Use borax in your laundry. Good luck.
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
I have this problem too and I have found that washing my hair with baking soda works best. Shampoo dries the scalp out too much and then the scalp and hair get oily more quickly because they are racing to replace all the oils the shampoo stripped out. The baking soda doesn't strip oils; It only removes the excess. Combine baking soda with water in a small bowl. It doesn't take very much at all and the baking soda will only absorb a certain amount of water so you can't get it wrong. The excess water will "float" above the baking soda paste at the bottom. Massage the paste into your scalp like you would shampoo and rinse. It feels different from shampoo and your hair won't feel clean until it dries but don't give up halfway through and resort to 'poo. After washing with baking soda it is recommended to rinse with a solution of half apple cider vinegar half water. This is by far the best way to wash hair for any hair type, problems or no problems. It is cheap (large box of baking soda for fifty cents), healthy (no strange shampoo chemicals), and environmentally friendly (no strange shampoo chemicals and no plastic bottles). Baking soda also makes a great, gentle "body wash." Give it a try, you will love it. If not it only cost you 50 cents anyway. Best of luck.
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
Hello,
I know this thread is quite old, but have you yet to come up with a Dx? I also have this, but it isn't on my scalp. It happens around my eyes. Occasionally, I will wipe my brow and feel this grainy substance. When I see it in the mirror, it looks like a little round spot of sand on my eye. Years ago I came across a site that claimed it was from a yeast overgrowth. I decreased my sugar intake and did a yeast cleanse and it seemed to work but now it is back. Has anyone else ever heard this?
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
I've had this for a year or two now and my hair is definitely thinning because of it. I was told by one doctor that it's demodex mites, but he sounded like a kook, so I don't know that I should believe him. I think the grains are just old hair follicles that harder and so I almost think it could be folliculitus (folliculitis).

The only thing I've noticed that helps the grains is tea tree oil, however it doesn't stop the hair fall unfortunately. It definitely helps stop the itching though. I just recently stopped using it to try other things and the itching is back like crazy.
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
I have this, its been 5 months and have lost a lot of hair.  I have been removing them w my fingernails, no matter how many I take off there are just as many waiting to take their place.  Does anyone know if the hair will ever grow back when the scalp is thru shedding these grains?
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
Yes, VINEGAR for half an hour, then OLIVE OIL has worked well for me with both ITCHY and NON-ITCHY GRANULES at the roots of my hair ...(i thought i had a permanent beach on my head from too much surfing or swimming in water where the sand has been churned up (from the overfishing of bivalves), and  GPs have never shown concern).
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
Try also NEME OIL (www.stylecraze.com/articles/amazing-benefits-of-neem-oil-for-skin-and-hair), used by Bishnoi people in India (though it's stinkier than olive oil, it's supposed to help promote hair growth from the roots).

Soaking and washing hair with VINEGAR, then OLIVE OIL (5mins and 30mins), helped me before to get lice eggs out of my hair ...my hair is very dry so doesn't respond well to harsh lice shampoos.

After the natural treatment, the granules streamed out when showering with water, hope that works for you too.
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
sounds like symptoms of demodex mites i have read about.  google it and see an eye doctor
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
I read your post from 2013 and am wondering how you're doing with your scalp problem at this date.
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
I am 22 and have been experiencing this same issue for a year. In addition to the grainy sand-like texture & hair loss, I experienced sores on my scalp occasionally & sometimes behind my ear...they were very aggravating but would heal and go away. I used to scan the web looking for answers to this. I went to the doctors, had tests, but still no answers until I just recently learned about "Candida". You should really look it up and read on it if you eat a lot of sugars and starches. I have cut back my sugar and I am now taking a supplement (I just found one that was well-reviewed on Amazon) I am already starting to feel MUCH better also I am not losing hair the way I was. However, I will keep you updated and let you know how I feel in a month because I am only a week or two in.  
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
Hey, I'm 16 and have been dealing with these weird sandy granules as well.

I've been dealing with many types of dandruff on and off for the past 4 or so years, from normal flaky dandruff to pasty and almost sticky dandruff.
Currently, I'm dealing with a mix, starting with flaky near the front of my hairline, pasty around the top and backside of my scalp, and grainy all over.
The grains are solid, white, and are usually tiny but have also been pretty big.
Sometimes they are clumped together or stuck on the roots of my hair.

My hair is mixed, since I'm biracial, so it's usually very dry.
I wash my hair 2-3 times a week and lightly shampoo my scalp, and condition only the ends. I use olive oil to keep everything moisturized but recently it hasn't been showing much of a difference.
I've tried everything from Head and Shoulders to Nizoral.
H&S doesn't do anything but increase the oils on my scalp and Nizoral only works if I wash my hair daily, which makes my hair a whole mess of textures and dryness.
I've dried a mix of baking soda and apple cider vinegar and it's made my hair smell for weeks and makes my scalp extremely sensitive and dry.
I already have a sensitive scalp as it is, so it's very hard to do anything with my hair (I can't brush it unless it's soaked and drenched with conditioner, and when I do brush it, I lose hair by the handful).
If anything tugs on or rips my hair I end up having sores and minor bleeding on my scalp.

I've been shaking out my hair to loosen up the grain and keeping it parted to have easier access to my scalp while shampooing, but everything ends up coming back. It really *****.

I've had lice before, and thankfully I'm lice-free now.
I've used treatments just to make sure of it, too.
It doesn't really feel like anything's crawling around or biting on me unless there's grains coming out of my scalp or rolling around.
When I observe the grains and other dandruff nothing appears to move at all, even under a scope, so mites are out of the question for now.
I don't have any sort of skin rashes or itchiness like eczema and I don't have psoriasis, my pH balance is stable and my blood work has come back clear.

I'm very confused as to why I'm having so many issues with my scalp.
Nothing really compares to what's going on and nothing seems to help out.
Doctors don't really seem to have a clue, either.
If I could afford different oils and creams I'd probably be treated by now, but that's out of my hands.
If anyone has any ideas or similarities or even some cheap tips, please let me know!
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
To all you swimmers or spa goers with grains coming out of crusted follicules ,  check out mycobacterial marinum!  I was misdiagnosed for years.
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
I'm 38 and have had my gritty scalp condition, which sounds very similar to yours, since my early twenties when my hair really thinned out. Last year I determined to fine out what was causing my hair and skin problems, as I also have acne on my face, chest and back. Was it linked? Yes, dairy, wheat, oats, maize and raw fruit have been causing me these woes. I think the first three are intolerances but the raw fruit was a fermentation issue. Currently fully exploring this as there might be other foods and still early days but I'm hopeful of some recovery and maybe even some more hair, nice to be almost rid of the sand. My advice is to see a Nutritional Therapist or try an elimination diet.
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
Thanks for all the information on this thread.  Sounds like there's a variety of potential issues that could be causing what we're experiencing, and it sounds like some people are experiencing different things, so keep up the researching and trying different treatments.

I'd like to throw one more possible source out there--allergy to hair color. That might explain why the itch feels worse at night, or in the morning--you just spent the night squashing your colored hair into your scalp.  I tried ammonia free color and that helped with itch some, but I think it might be the peroxide.

One thing about the sand grains, since I know what I have isn't, based off Google image searches white pieta, Morgellon's or seborrheic dermatitis--the vinegar rinse worked for me for a bit.  Going to try keeping it in longer since the itch, while muted, came back in half a day.  Also I spray-bottled it on my scalp making different parts in my hair and will try a direct to scalp rinse. However, a few tips I've come up with:

*Get a flea comb from PetsMart.  Even if this isn't lice (and double-check, because about half the US now has chemical-resistant lice), I think this worked well for the limited amount I did because I'd gotten a lot of the current beads out of my hair so it didn't have as much work to do.

*Don't pull the comb down your hair shaft.  Make half inch parts in your hair and comb your hair from the flip side, or sideways.  A lot of the grains are hiding on the bottom, so this pulls out more.

*If you feel, see or are able to pull grains from your forehead, eyebrows, skin at nape of neck, chest area or your back, or have had some weird acne for your age in more places than on your face, pull the comb over those areas as well.  It pulls grains out from pores as well.  

*Both with combing and the hair treatment, don’t forget behind your ears, your hairline, temples, and hairline at the nape of the neck.

*When you use the vinegar, wipe those skin areas as well.  My forehead hasn't looked or felt this smooth in ages, and that's only after one day.

*If this is a pH balance issue, shampoo with baby shampoo.  Also, try researching and doing the no shampoo route, or the baking soda shampoo route.  At the very least, stop using cheap name brand shampoos you get at Target and Wal-Mart.  I’ve gone to Paul Mitchell’s One shampoo, which isn’t too expensive, and even before the vinegar application my hair started looking better, fuller, less hair was coming out with this stupid issue.

*I’ve also had some itch relief (but I didn’t notice if it reduced the number of grains) with a shampoo made with tea tree oil.  Problem is that’s fairly expensive, but you can use it sparingly, only once a week or so.

*The vinegar treatment irritates a little.  Since that seems to mean it was working (it felt like it was killing something, yay!), probably a good thing.  But, when you do it, make sure you’re ready to jump in the shower to wash it off if it starts to burn because you got the mixture wrong, kept it on too long, etc.

*Wash your sheets and towels with color safe bleach.  While you don’t necessarily need to change pillowcases more than once a week I don’t think, turn your pillow over each night--if this is something that’s live, hopefully a day away from your hair will kill off that source of re-contamination.
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
Two other items to add--Head and Shoulders makes a eucalyptus shampoo for itchy scalp that seems to help as it's designed to bring pH balance back to hair.  Also, try Paul Mitchell's Detangler conditioner--it has jojoba oil and other ingredients I've seen on other boards that seem to help this issue.  That kills the itch for a day or so.

But the vinegar still seems to help the best.  I spray it on my back each night before bed and the sores on my back and neck are finally healing and going away.  On the days prior to when I will wash my hair, at night before I go to bed I rub it into problem areas on my scalp with a cotton ball.  I've tried both 50/50 water vinegar and 100% vinegar solutions--the water is supposed to "activate" the vinegar, but if you can stand the brief burning sensation, the 100% solution seems to be more effective.

Other people on other boards have mentioned Vicks Vapor Rub at night for skin issues and to try a probiotics regime.
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
What kind of supplement did you start taking?
Blank
Post a Comment
To
Blank
Weight Tracker
Weight Tracker
Start Tracking Now
Dermatology Community Resources
RSS Expert Activity
233488_tn?1310696703
Blank
Marathon Running Done Over Many Yea...
May 21 by John C Hagan III, MD, FACS, FAAOBlank
233488_tn?1310696703
Blank
New Article on Multifocal IOL vs &q...
May 21 by John C Hagan III, MD, FACS, FAAOBlank
748543_tn?1443740527
Blank
TMJ/TMJ The Connection Between Teet...
01/15 by Hamidreza Nassery , DMD, FICOI, FAGD, FICCMOBlank
Top Dermatology Answerers
1340994_tn?1374197577
Blank
Caryopteris
Raleigh, NC
209987_tn?1451939065
Blank
tschock
AB
4851940_tn?1385441629
Blank
jemma116
United Kingdom
Avatar_m_tn
Blank
N_Johnny30