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Itchy Scalp: Common Causes Of Itchy Scalp and Treatment

Updated on December 3, 2015

The itchy scalp problem

An itchy scalp is a very uncomfortable and irritating sensation that makes your scalp to become extremely itchy to the point where you are forced to scratch it in order to get some relief from the itching.

Many people who frequently experience the problem of itchy scalp would tell you that one of the most irritating and annoying things that can happen to a person is to suffer from a persistent itchy scalp.

We all experience itchy scalps from time to time. But there are some who experience it more frequently than others. These people suffer from a chronic itchy scalp that interferes with their everyday lives. A good example of such people who suffer greatly from chronic itchy scalp is me (the author of this article). I have suffered from this annoying problem for several years and only recently began to find a lasting solution to it. I know there are countless of people like me all over the world who have to constantly deal with itchy scalp and who cannot find a lasting solution to their problem. This is the reason why I decided to write this article. For several months I researched into the causes of itchy scalp and the remedies. During my research, I interviewed numerous dermatologists and other experts asking them many questions about this annoying problem. Two of the most common questions I asked during my research into itchy scalp were:

  1. What causes the scalp to itch?
  2. What are the remedies for an itchy scalp?

By the end of my research, I had gathered enough information on the topic and had found answers to the two questions above. As a result of that, I am glad to tell readers that I have currently found a remedy to my itchy scalp which had bedeviled me for several years. To say that I am now relieved is a big understatement considering how I was tormented day and night because of my chronic itchy scalp. My problem was so severe that sometimes I scratched my scalp so violently that I broke the skin on my scalp and even developed infections on the scalp. The worst part of the problem were the times when I was forced to scratch my head like a madman in public (and it did happen very often). It can really be an extremely embarrassing thing to be seen in public furiously scratching your head. But many times one is left with no other option than to do that because an itchy scalp can be so maddening and unbearable that when it strikes, you are forced to stop whatever it is you are doing and start scratching your head. You wouldn’t care where you are or what you are doing – all you’d care about is the itch and the fact that it needs to be furiously scratched in order for you to be normal. I believe that anybody who has suffered from chronic itchy scalp or who is currently suffering from it understands what I am saying.

But like a wise man once said, ‘every problem has a solution’. And an itchy scalp is no exception. There are remedies to this very annoying and uncomfortable problem. And that is what this article is all about – the remedies for an itchy scalp.

What causes an itchy scalp?

There are many reasons why your scalp can suddenly start itching. Below are some of the most common causes of itchy scalp:

  1. Dry scalp: A dry scalp is probably the most common reason why many people experience scalp-itching. Just like the skin on the body, the scalp can also become dehydrated and dry. When the scalp becomes dry as a result of lack of moisture or because there isn’t enough oil on it, then the likelihood of the scalp to become itchy is highly increased. This is the reason why people who suffer from dry skin problems tend to suffer quite a lot from itchy scalp too. This problem becomes even worse during the winter season when the weather becomes very dry. There are so many causes of dry skin. The most common reasons why a person will suffer from dry skin include the following: bathing too much hot water, using harsh soaps to bathe, and not applying enough moisturizer to the skin – especially after bathing. Doing these things can easily dry up the skin and scalp. Using harsh soaps and shampoos also dry out the scalp. Some consider this the most damaging to the scalp in terms of drying the scalp and causing an itchy scalp.
  2. Head lice: You might be surprised to hear this. But believe it or not, head lice are another very common cause of itchy scalp. The interesting thing about head lice is the fact that you might have it and not even know that you have it mainly because of how tiny lice are. The most common sign of head lice infestation is an intense itching on the scalp. Head lice infestation is more common in children than it is in adults. It is also more common in women than in men because women have longer hairs than men.
  3. Dandruff: We can’t talk about scalp itching without mentioning the common chronic scalp condition called dandruff. Dandruff is an extremely common condition that plagues people of all races and genders. It is so common that it is estimated that about half of the population in America experiences dandruff that ranges from being mild to being severe. The most common symptoms of dandruff are an itchy scalp that is accompanied by gray flakes of dead skin that appear on your hair and which often end up falling on your shoulders. Dandruff can be caused by so many things, common among these things are: dry skin, scalp irritation, and eczema. According to the Mayo Clinic, dandruff can also be caused by a very common fungus that lives on the scalp of many adults called malassezia. When malassezia irritates your scalp, then your likelihood of suffering from dandruff is increased. Not washing your hair very often can also lead to dandruff.
  4. Psoriasis: This is a skin disorder that can occur on the scalp, the forehead, behind the ears, or at the back of the neck. When psoriasis occurs on the scalp, the scalp develops reddish patches that are often scaly and can feel sore or inflamed. Sometimes scalp psoriasis can be so mild that it goes unnoticed. But sometimes it can be so severe that it can cover the whole scalp and cause temporary hair loss. The exact cause of psoriasis is currently not known, but doctors say it is likely that it is caused by an immune system problem. Some of the most common symptoms of scalp psoriasis include a dry and itchy scalp. Other symptoms include: burning sensation on the scalp, dandruff-like flaking, temporary hair loss, etc.
  5. Not washing the hair often enough: Another very common cause of itchy scalp is as a result of the buildup of oil, dirt, and dead skin cells on the scalp that occurs as a result of not washing the hair regularly.

While there are other causes of itchy scalp, readers should know that the above are the most common reasons why the average person would experience an itchiness of the scalp. So if you frequently suffer from an itchy scalp, then it is highly likely that any of the things above is what is causing you that annoying and irritating problem. For me, the cause of my itchy scalp was a dry scalp 9something I only recently found out).

Remedies for an itchy scalp

There are so many ways to go about treating an itchy scalp. Below are some of the best remedies for an itchy scalp. But the treatment choice you go for will largely depend on the cause of your itchy scalp. Without further ado, let’s delve straight into these remedies.

Moisturize your scalp and prevent a dry scalp

If the cause of your itchy scalp is as a result of a dry scalp, then you should aim at keeping your scalp moisturized all the time. It is as simple as that. But how does one do this? There are so many ways to avoid a dry scalp. These are the best ways to go about avoiding dry scalp issues:

  • Use warm water instead of hot water in bathing: Since bathing hot water contributes massively towards drying the scalp and the skin, the obvious solution to this is to avoid hot baths and showers. So instead of using hot water in bathing, it is advisable to use warm water. Remember that hot water dries the skin easily.
  • Avoid harsh soaps and shampoos: A dry scalp can also be prevented by avoiding the use of harsh soaps and shampoos on the head. These things can easily dry the scalp and the skin on the rest of the body if you use them to bathe.
  • Moisturize your scalp just after bathing: It is not advisable for one to wait for a long period of time before applying moisturizers on the scalp after one has finished bathing. Dermatologists advice that if the goal is to combat a dry scalp, then just few minutes after bathing and gently patting the hair dry with a towel, the scalp should be moisturized with a good moisturizer so that it can trap the little moisture still left on the scalp and keep it moisturized for a very long time. Natural oils such as olive oil and coconut are considered the best for your scalp and hair. Not only do these oils do a great job in moisturizing the scalp (they prevent the evaporation of water from the scalp) but they also keep your hair healthy and good-looking.

How to treat head lice infestation causing an itchy scalp

Lice can be quite difficult to spot because of how tiny they are. But if you eventually spot them in your hair and are suffering from an itchy scalp, then the likelihood that your itchy scalp problem is as a result of the head lice infestation is very high. You therefore need to take steps to solve the problem. Thankfully, these days there are so many over-the-counter medications that can be used to effectively kill lice and their eggs. There are also several anti-lice shampoos and lotions that can be gotten over the counter or by prescription to kill lice in the hair. Get these anti-lice shampoos and follow the manufacturer’s instructions in order to get some relief from head lice infestation and the itchy scalp problem that comes along with it. These are some of the best anti-lice shampoos out there for effective treatment of head lice infestation: Fairy Tales Repel Shampoo, Licefreee Spray, and LiceMD Lice & Egg Treatment

Remember that during the treatment of head lice infestation, your bedding and all the clothes that you have worn before should be washed in very hot water so as to kill lice and their eggs.

Treat dandruff and treat itchy scalp

If it is dandruff that is causing you that constant annoying scalp itching, then the only way you will get some relief from the itching is by treating the dandruff. Treating dandruff is not as difficult as sometimes people make it seem.

The major thing that makes your dandruff problem worse is when you do not wash your hair frequently enough. You can therefore get some relief from dandruff by washing your hair every day with a good shampoo. It is advisable to use very good dandruff shampoos such as the following: Adovia Moisturizing Shampoo, Clinical Strength Dandruff and Seborrheic Dermatitis Shampoo, and Shampoo for Dry Hair and Flaking Scalp

When you wash your hair on a daily basis with some of these good shampoos, you reduce the buildup of oil, dirt, and dead skin cells in the hair and on the scalp. This helps in giving you some relief from dandruff.

In addition to the above, you might also want to be mindful of stress. If you are one who lives a stressful life, then it is imperative that you start learning how to manage your stress in the right way because stress worsens dandruff.

Itchy scalp as a result of an allergic reaction

Readers should note that there are certain times when an itchy scalp problem can be brought on by an allergic reaction to a product that you have just started using. For example, if you started experiencing an itchy scalp after you started using something like a new hair product or a new brand of soap to bathe, then you should know that the likelihood of the itchy scalp being caused by that new product is very high. You should therefore halt using that product for a while and see what happens.


If you have tried everything possible (including all the remedies mentioned in this article) to treat your itchy scalp without seeing any results, then I strongly advise that you visit your doctor or a dermatologist in order for him or her to examine you thoroughly and find out exactly what is wrong with you.

Fortunately for me, I was able to get relief from my itchy scalp problem without visiting a dermatologist’s office for treatment. I hope this article alone can help you to get the much needed help for your problem the way I did.

And by the way, if any reader out there knows of any other effective home remedies for itchy scalp, then please feel free to share that with us.

Do you currently suffer from an itchy scalp?

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