What is an Itchy Scalp?
A slight itch in the scalp is nothing to be concerned about but if you can’t stop scratching your scalp then you might want to look into it. Our scalps are one of the most vulnerable parts of our body and are susceptible to internal and external changes. A healthy scalp is the stepping stone to healthy hair so don’t ignore that itch.
What are the Symptoms of an Itchy Scalp?
In a milder case of an itchy scalp, scratching your scalp may bring you momentary relief and leave a tingling sensation in your scalp. However, in severe cases like a scalp infection, an itchy scalp may be accompanied with a rash, bumps on the scalp or nape of the neck.
Excessive scratching can end up damaging the skin of the scalp or introduce bacteria or fungus into the layers of the skin which can result in infections. If you have a persistent itchy scalp along with bald patches, sores or joint aches then it is best to seek help from a medical professional.
What Causes an Itchy Scalp?
Any disturbance in your scalp’s natural moisture balance can result in an itchy or dry scalp. The reason behind an itchy scalp could be a change in weather, a skin condition or simply ageing. There could be various reasons for your itchy scalp so finding the underlying reason is essential before you start looking for the best possible solution.
Probably the most common reason for an itchy scalp is dandruff. If your scalp has been feeling dry and you are noticing flaky skin on the scalp then it is a case of gold old dandruff. Increased oil secretion and infrequent shampooing could be the cause behind it. Dandruff often occurs around the sebaceous gland on the scalp and if inflamed, you may experience itching, flaking and redness (inflamed skin) on your scalp. Read more about it here.
Scalp psoriasis is characterised by raised, scaly and red patches on the scalp. Most people suffering from psoriasis report itchiness of the scalp. Scalp psoriasis stems from a faulty immune system or genetics which causes the skin cells to grow quickly and build up into patches.
Yes, adults can contract head lice! Lice mostly spreads through direct contact but sharing a hair brush, towel or more with an infected person can also cause lice. These small bugs can lead to incessant scratching of the head.
An itchy and irritated scalp can be a sign of scalp eczema. Redness, flakiness, itchiness, swelling and burning sensation could all be symptoms of eczema. In a chronic case of eczema, the inflammation can be extremely painful. Hormonal changes, a prolonged illness and stress have all been known to trigger scalp eczema in people.
5. Allergic Reaction
Residual shampoo in the hair after a hair wash can also be the reason behind your irritated scalp. If you are rinsing your hair well and still dealing with an itchy scalp or rash then you might be allergic to your shampoo or conditioner. You might want to consider ditching the product to stop the itch.
Para-phenylenediamine (PPD) is an ingredient used in hair dyes which is known to cause an allergic reaction known as contact dermatitis. PPD is a fairly common irritant which can tend to affect some people who frequently dye their hair.
How to Prevent an Itchy Scalp?
We have all dealt with an itchy or irritated scalp at some point in our lives. It is a common scalp condition which in severe cases might need treatment but following some precautions can help keep an itchy scalp at bay.
1. Hair Wash
Follow a regular hair washing routine, ideally every 2-3 days, to remove built-up oil and dirt. If you have dry hair, avoid shampooing more than twice a week, while oily hair types may need to wash their hair every second day to manage the greasiness. Avoid washing your hair with hot water to prevent drying out of the scalp. Always use a mild and gentle shampoo for washing your hair. Choosing the right shampoo is vital for good hair care, read about it here.
2. Avoid Harsh Products
Try reducing the use of products that contain harsh chemicals, dyes and synthetic fragrances to steer clear from allergic reactions.
3. Avoid Sharing
Refrain from sharing combs, brushes, pillowcases and hats, especially people susceptible to infections and head lice.
How to Treat an Itchy Scalp?
Though scalp itchiness is not a major skin condition, if left untreated, it can impact hair growth and weaken the scalp. An itchy scalp can be uncomfortable to live with and if you are heading into cold weather, it can also contribute to dry skin, dry scalp and dry hair so don’t overlook an irritated scalp! If you want to know more about the link between weather and our scalp condition, read our blog on how the two are connected.
1. Treat Dandruff
Dandruff or flaking is the number one reason for an itchy scalp so addressing it with the right ingredients and product is critical. Dandruff is the result of a yeast-like fungal infection of the scalp which can be combated with ingredients such as Zinc Pyrithione, Salicylic Acid, Coal Tar, Aloe Vera and Neem Oil.
We like Faith In Nature’s Anti-Dandruff Aloe Vera Shampoo and Conditioner Combo to clean and clear your scalp of dandruff. The Aloe Vera Shampoo gently cleanses the dandruff while the Aloe Vera Conditioner nourishes dry hair and calms an itchy scalp.
If you want a deep scalp cleanse, we would recommend trying The Switch Fix Play It Coal Shampoo Bar. With the goodness of Activated Charcoal and gentleness of Salicylic Acid, this shampoo bar removes deep seated impurities like oil, dust and dandruff without being harsh or excessively drying for the scalp.
If you are looking for an oil based solution to fight dandruff, Tvam’s Neem Green Tea Anti-Dandruff Oil not only fights dandruff and a flaky scalp, it also nourishes hair roots. The Basil and Green Tea extracts help keep the hair soft and shiny whereas Neem Oil promotes healthy hair growth.
2. Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera is a natural coolant which soothes and moisturises an itchy scalp. It is known to help in reducing dandruff and heal minor bumps and scratches that might occur on an irritated and dry scalp. Apply a good quality organic Aloe Vera gel on your scalp and leave it on for 15-20 minutes. Rinse it off with lukewarm or cold water. Being a fairly easy treatment, you can apply the gel once or twice a week.
We highly recommend using Prakriti Herbals Itchy Scalp Control Cucumber Aloe Vera Hair Gel to effectively reduce dandruff and itchiness of the scalp. This natural gel also helps to tackle the frizz in your hair and leaves it soft.
Read more Aloevera here.
Just the way you exfoliate your face to keep your pores clean and breakout free, it is equally important to exfoliate the scalp to clear away excess oil, dead skin cells, flakes and product build-up. Excessive exfoliation and scrubbing too hard can be damaging for your scalp so it’s important to gently massage the product onto the scalp with the fingertips, not fingernails. For a gentle scalp scrub, choose a product with fruit enzymes or Salicylic Acid.
Flawsome’s Dense Intense Exfoliating & Deep Cleansing Hair Mask is a must try because of its 2-In-1 action. This multi-tasking mask is packed with Acai Seed Power, Activated Charcoal and Kaolin Extract to deep clean the scalp while Shea Butter, Argan Oil and Coconut Oil deep condition the scalp, leaving behind smooth tresses.
4. Moisturising Hair Mask
Ensuring that your scalp gets enough hydration is important to combat itchiness of the scalp, especially if you are dealing with winter scalp. Hair masks offer intense soothing and nourishing benefits as part of leave-in treatments, leaving your scalp hydrated and hair smooth. Adding a hair mask to your hair care has many advantages, to know more read our blog on the benefits of hair masks.
True Frog’s Deep Conditioning Mask is the perfect solution for intense hydration and rebalancing the moisture in the scalp. This mask works from root to tip, bringing long-lasting results to dry hair and an itchy scalp. The deep conditioning qualities of Tucuma Butter improves the lustre while Quinoa Protein restores hydration to every cuticle.
5. Oil It Up
A) Tea Tree Oil
If an underlying infection is the reason for your itchy scalp then Tea Tree Oil might be the perfect solution for you. Apart from moisturising the scalp, Tea Tree Oil has antibacterial and antifungal properties which helps combat infections. To know more about the wondrous healing properties of Tea Tree Oil, click here.
If you are worried about applying Tea Tree Oil directly on your scalp, you can mix it with coconut oil to reduce its strength. For optimal results, leave it on overnight and wash it off with a gentle shampoo under lukewarm water. Tea Tree Oil is safe to use two-three times a week and you can reduce the frequency of application once you see the desired result.
We love Soulflower’s Tea Tree Oil Scalp & Dandruff Care because of its vitamin-enriched complete scalp care formula. This natural oil cleanses your scalp, removes flakes, relieves scalp irritation while providing extra conditioning to your hair.
B) Coconut Oil
Itchiness in the scalp is an indicator of a dry scalp lacking in moisture. With its deep hydration, Coconut Oil can provide immense relief to an irritated scalp and restore the moisture in the scalp. A good old champi of warm Coconut Oil at least twice a week can relieve the itchiness. For further nourishment, you can add a few drops of Vitamin E oil to the coconut oil.
If you are doubtful about the benefits of oiling your hair, you should read our guide on hair oiling to understand why it is good for the scalp and how to oil your hair the right way.
To Sum Up
An itchy scalp is a fairly common concern among adults with multiple available solutions to manage the problem. Having said that, watch out for the severity and frequency of the condition to correctly identify the underlying cause. An itchy scalp due to dandruff, mild allergic reaction and head lice is relatively minor and can be easily solved with the solutions mentioned in this blog. However, a chronic itchy scalp could be due to serious scalp infections, parasite infestation or allergies.
- Shristi Mehra