A lady scratching her head.

Reasons why you might have an itchy scalp

We all want our hair to look good, but no matter how well you style it, scratching at your scalp all day is not great.

Huge numbers of us will suffer from an itchy scalp, or scalp pruritus1 , at some point, and the severity of it can vary greatly.

Once it starts, it can be difficult to think about anything else, and even harder not scratch it!

There are a great many reasons for an itchy scalp, but happily, there are also loads of products on the market to help soothe it too.

Many of these are natural based products to avoid using anything that might increase the problem or cause a further reaction that could make the itching worse.

What causes an itchy scalp?

When most people think of an itchy scalp, they think of dandruff, or seborrheic dermatitis,  which is when flakes of skin become visible on your hair or clothing.

This is simply dead skin that is shedding away from a dry and itchy scalp.2

Dandruff

Dandruff can be caused by a yeast overgrowth on the skin, seasonal changes or even hormonal fluctuations and stress.

Reaction to hair care products

Other reasons for itching may include a reaction to a hair care product.

If a product has been left on your skin or is too harsh, it may create an irritation.

This can be anything from shampoo to hair dye, so make a note of whether you have used anything new recently that might explain your reaction.

Skin concerns such as eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis

There are also skin concerns such as eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis which can cause itching.

This is because these complaints can spread from visible areas of the body to the scalp.

Obviously, this cannot always be treated in the same way, so it can lead to anything from mild to intense itching and sometimes visible flakes.

Head lice

Head lice – or nits - are also a common reason for itching.

Children are particularly susceptible to this (especially if they have longer hair), but head lice can easily be spread through everyone in the family if they are in close contact or share towels.

How can I stop my scalp itching?

One of the simplest ways to treat an itchy scalp is through a specialist shampoo.

There are a number available that can help to soothe the skin and relieve the itching sensation and they are often designed to reduce the oil on the scalp.

Natural ingredients such as tea tree, kiwi and coconut oils are included in these products as they can help to cleanse and balance the skin whilst soothing any sensitivities.

These shampoos, conditioners and hair treatments are fabulous as they not only make your scalp happier, they also leave your hair feeling silky soft too.

Often, you will not need to do anything differently, so it is easy to use and solve your problem.

There are also scalp oils available which offer beautiful blends of oils to nourish the hair and skin. These are often intensive solutions which can be left on overnight to work their magic.

If you don’t like the sound of an oil, then mud might be more your thing! This uses mineral-rich sea mud to comfort an itchy scalp and naturally condition the hair.

If the itching is as a result of a reaction to a product, you should make sure that you stop using it immediately. If the reaction is severe, you should speak to a pharmacist or doctor.

Treating head lice will need a shampoo or hair treatment to kill any living lice and a fine-tooth comb to remove the eggs that remain in the hair. You will need to wash towels and bedding on a hot cycle and treat everyone in the house to make sure they do not spread.

Some children and babies can also suffer from an itchy, flaky scalp. This is often known as cradle cap and is extremely common. Make sure you look for specific cradle cap shampoos and products that have been designed for use on infants.

Although this article probably made your head itch, it is generally nothing to worry about.

Itchy scalps are very common and easily treated.

However, if you are concerned about the cause of your itching or you are unable to ease the symptoms, then you should seek medical advice.

Last Updated: 19th November 2020

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