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Itchy Scalp - Symptoms, Hair loss, Causes, Treatment

Updated on December 2, 2013

What is an Itchy scalp?

This is an inflammatory reaction of your skin that is underneath your hair. It is a common problem, especially among adults. How severe, how long it will last, and how frequent a person will have an itchy scalp depends on what is cause the itch. There are many different causes to have this medical symptom.

Itchy scalp and Hair loss

Having an itchy scalp is bad enough but when you combine it with hair loss it can be very frustrating. It can also be a cause for a person to worry, especially if it is a woman who is experiencing the hair loss. Most of the time hair loss that is caused by an itchy scalp is not permanent. The hair will grow back but this will only happen if you have the right treatment.

Some of the treatments that a person can use if experiencing an itchy scalp and hair loss may include:

  • Changing your shampoo and/or conditioner to see if either of these two products are causing the problem.
  • Keep your hair and scalp clean which means that you may have to wash your hair more frequently, especially if your hair and scalp get dirty and greasy on a daily basis. You may have to wash your hair every day.
  • You should avoid chemical and heat treatments but if you do get either of these treatments you should make sure that you are using the right hair care products for these treatments on a regular basis.
  • Make sure that your diet is rich in vitamin B and folic acid.
  • Eat a variety of vegetables, especially spinach and lettuce.
  • Get the right amount of protein in your diet by including such foods as eggs, milk, and dairy.

One of the main reasons a person can loose hair due to an itchy scalp is the excess secretion of oil from your scalp, which can cause inflammation, persistent flaking, and extreme itching and can lead to bacterial infections. Scalp psoriasis is another cause.


Having an itchy scalp may occur with other symptoms but it all depends on what is causing the itchy scalp in the first place. These symptoms can not only affect your scalp but can also affect your skin and other systems of your body.

Some of the symptoms that can indicate a skin condition may include:

  • Burning
  • Blistering
  • Cracked skin on your skin or scalp
  • Having thinning or hair loss
  • Itchy knees and elbows
  • Pain
  • Rash, irritation, redness, or inflammation on your skin
  • Flaking or scaling of your skin
  • Lice

Other general symptoms that could occur with itchy scalp may include:

  • Not being able to tolerate the cold
  • Having a decrease in appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Symptoms that are flu-like such as fever, sore throat, ache, pains, etc.
  • Watery, red, itchy eyes.


The most common causes of having an itchy scalp are seborrheic dermatitis which is thought to be caused by a combination of overgrowth of yeast and oily skin, and dandruff.

Other possible causes of having an itchy scalp may include:

  • Allergic irritant dermatitis such as from using hair dye, certain shampoos, soap, etc.
  • Atopic dermatitis also known as eczema.
  • Infection of a hair follicle known as folliculitis.
  • Head lice
  • Hypothyroidism which is when your thyroid does not make enough of the thyroid hormone.
  • Psoriasis
  • Anxiety and stress
  • Sunburn
  • Cradle cap in infants and dandruff in adults known as seborrheic dermatitis.
  • Tinea capitis which is ringworm of the scalp and is a fungal infection.


As with any symptom, you first need to find out the cause in order to get the right treatment. You should visit your physician or dermatologist to find out the underlying cause.

If itchy scalp is caused by this condition, you can try this treatment.

  • Dermatitis caused by an irritant - find out what is irritating your scalp and avoid it. If it is your shampoo or conditioner, change them to find one that does not irritate your scalp. If you are dying your hair frequently you may have to stop dying your hair so often or use another dye. If your scalp becomes infected your physician may prescribe antibiotics or steroid medications.
  • Seborrheic dermatitis - use nontoxic hair products such as medicated shampoos especially formulated to get rid of dandruff to help control the spreading of the dandruff and the scaling. If you have greasy red patches your physician may prescribe antibiotics. Check with your pediatrician to see what they recommend to use on cradle cap.
  • Psoriasis - the treatment for this condition depends on how severe it is but most treatments involve using topical treatments such as creams or ointments that have the ingredients of vitamin D3, retinoids, or corticosteroids. They can also use phototherapy to kill the T cells in your scalp.
  • Ringworm of the scalp - because this is a fungal infection the physician will prescribe an antifungal medicine to be taken orally.
  • Lice - treating this you can use an over-the-counter shampoo especially formulated for getting rid of the lice. Usually the treatment is done twice, ten to fourteen days a part. If this does not work, then your physician can prescribe a stronger medicated shampoo.

Home Remedies

There are also some home remedies that you can use to help treat itchy scalp which can include:

  • Rub lemon juices on your scalp, leave on a few minutes, and then rinse off with warm water. This is an effective method to help with itchy scalp.
  • Massage your scalp with a couple of drops of peppermint oil that has been mixed into a cup of water and leave on your scalp for a few minutes. This can help with the dryness than can cause your scalp to itch.
  • Massage aloe Vera into your scalp and leave on fifteen minutes, and then wash out. This is a popular home remedy to help relieve the itch.

In addition, you should make sure that you are eating foods that are rich in vitamins B and C, iron, and zinc along with an dairy products, yogurt especially, and proteins. Choose shampoos with a pH between four point five and five point five.


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