Itchy Scalp

We embarrass ourselves several times in meetings, parties or public places when we are left with no choice but to reduce the stress level by scratching our scalp all of a sudden due to some inflammatory reaction that causes itching underneath the hair on our head.

Alas, it only takes an itch or two to spoil our impression by scratching it. So let’s scrutinize the symptoms, causes, treatments, home remedies and preventions for itchy scalp!

Associated symptoms of Itchy Scalp

The very first sign that will grab your attention is the sudden irritation that will force you to scratch your scalp. Depending on the underlying condition, you may sense a blistering pace of burns, rashes or pain. It can even result in flaking, redness, scaling, discoloration and cracking of skin.

Scratching the scalp can lead to sores or lesions. Since hair is a keratin protein, its weakness can also result in thinning of hair or its loss. Other symptoms that are associated with body systems like depression, fatigue, runny-nose, cough and intolerance of cold by the skin may also occur along with an itchy scalp.

Itchy Scalp : Causes

An itchy scalp may be caused due to a great variety of skin diseases, fungal or bacterial infection, inflammatory disorders, parasitical infestation, stress, anxiety, obesity or sunburn. Several factors behind the cause of an itchy scalp are:

Skin Dryness

It is one of the major reasons that go down in causes for a dry, itchy scalp. If the balance of your scalp’s natural moisture is disturbed, your itch-scratch cycle will force you to self-injury due to its unendurable discomfort.

Inflammatory Disorders

Psoriasis of the Scalp: Broadly considered to be one of the deadliest causes of itchy-scalp, Psoriasis is a condition when the scalp is completely occupied by thick itchy-red patches surrounded by crusty silver scales. Ranging from mild to extreme, it can cause significant inflammation and distress.

Psoriasis of the Scalp picture

Picture 1 : Psoriasis of the Scalp
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  • Lichen Planus: Lichen Planus is yet another chronic inflammatory disorder that can result in severe itching and hair loss. It can bestbe treated with steroids.

Lichen Planus image

Picture 2 : Lichen Planus
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  • Contact Dermatitis: Sometimes the skin on our scalp undergoes an allergic reaction mainly because of its sensitivity to foreign chemicals like certain dyes or shampoos that are applied to it. Initially it does not cause itching but afterwards it can lead to irritable rashes and scaling of scalp.

Viral infection

Chicken pox is a viral infection that can form blisters in the scalp.

Bacterial Infection

It can cause deeply inflamed scalp conditions like Folliculitis which not only result in scalp-itching but can also cause severe pain.

Fungal Infections

Dandruff – Without a shadow of a doubt, dandruff in one of the globally assumed villain that can cause itching of the scalp. If you don’t wash your hair regularly, you’re expected to become a prey to dandruff.

Dandruff, if accompanied by an oily scalp can lead to Seborrheic Dermatitis which is one of the most common causes of scalp-itching. Eczema, a form of dermatitis, can also lead to development of dandruff.

Dandruff picture

Picture 3 : Dandruff
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Tinea Capitis – Eager to haunt your scalp, Tinea Capitis or Ring Worm is a fungal infection thatwhen once attack your scalp, will form a ring-like round patch and cause itching, burning of skin followed by breaking of hair. It is likely to spread from one individual to another through combs, brushes and towel exchange

Tinea Capitis image

Picture 4 : Tinea Capitis
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Cradle Cap – Also known as neonatal seborrheic Dermatitis, it mostly iscommon in newly born babies due to the dominance of maternal hormones that cause increased production of sebaceous glands. Malassezia furfur, a type of Fungi, plays a pivotal role in causing cradle cap. Although not that itchy, it produces yellowish crusty skin rashes on the scalp.

Cradle Cap photo

Picture 5 : Cradle Cap
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Psychological Causes

Depression, emotional stress, obesity and anxiety are some of the causes that can affect the physical dimension of health and can result in repeated scratching of scalp and hair loss.


Parasitical head lice that suck blood can taut your nerves with anxiety. Although more common in females due to their long hair, the lice is likely to spread from one person to another. The eggs of lice, called nits are also present in hair more often and cause troublesome itch on the scalp which in turn grow a bacteria due to scratching and cause further severity of infection.


An under-active thyroid can lead to hair-loss, skin-dryness and Itchy-scalp. (see : about Thyroid stimulating hormone – TSH)

Treatment and Home Remedies

Itching of the scalp is not a life-threatening issue. It can be treated by countless natural and artificial means. You don’t necessarily have to go to your dermatologist who may prescribe you some expensive lotions or anti-inflammatory medicines for treatment of the itchy scalp unless the severity of itching is in acute form. Following are some of the preventions, cures and home remedies for the treatment of itchy scalp.

  • Sometimes a shampoo, hair-conditioner, hair-mouse or gel used on the scalp may result in severe itching. Most of these products do not suit our skin and cause irritation. Hence it is better to take pre-cautionary measures before buying such products that may cause allergic reactions when applied on scalp-hair.
  • As far as the case of lice-infestation is concerned, we should not exchange our personal belongings like pillow, comb, clothes etc.
  • Usage of medicated shampoos can best help cure the problem of itchy-scalp.
  • Brushing your hair twice or thrice a day to distribute natural oils in hair can reduce itching of the scalp.
  • Dandruff may be caused by too frequent or infrequent washings. Therefore the middle way should be adopted.
  • Adjustment in daily hygiene habits can keep your hair healthy and lustrous.
  • A variety of anti-dandruff shampoos can reduce scalp-itch if the following chemical substances are present in it. They are: Zinc pyrithione, Coal tar, Salicylic acid, Selenium Sulfide, and Ketoconazole.
  • If you mix olive oil, mayonnaise and broccoli’s puree or egg for nutrients and rub it against your scalp, the result of the natural ingredients can be miraculous.
  • At least eight glasses of water daily and a proper intake of vitamins can help reduce itching and scaling of scalp by keeping it hydrated.


Itchy Scalp
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Published on by under Skin and Hair.
Article was last reviewed on January 23rd, 2018.

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