This article was co-authored by Lydia Shedlofsky, DO and by wikiHow staff writer, Amber Crain. Dr. Lydia Shedlofsky is a Resident Dermatologist who joined Affiliated Dermatology in July of 2019 after completing a traditional rotating internship at Larkin Community Hospital in Miami, Florida. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology at Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina. After graduation, she moved to Beira, Mozambique, and worked as a research assistant and intern at a free clinic. She completed a Post-Baccalaureate program and subsequently earned a Master’s Degree in Medical Education and a Doctorate of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) from the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine.
There are 17 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.
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If you can’t stop scratching your head because your scalp itches or because of compulsive picking, addressing the root cause can help. For an itchy scalp, dandruff and allergic reactions to hair products are the most common culprits. Luckily, you can treat these issues at home with over-the-counter products. If your scratching is more of a compulsive thing and it isn’t triggered by an itch, you may be suffering from a disorder called dermatillomania. Start by visiting a doctor to get a treatment plan that’s right for you. Support groups and online resources are also wonderful and effective tools to help you on your journey to recovery.
Here’s a head-scratcher: Your scalp itches constantly. How do you make it stop?
Itchy scalp, or scalp pruritus as doctors call it, is often a symptom of a larger problem. Dandruff and eczema (seborrheic dermatitis) are the most common culprits behind that itch. Both lead to dead and flaky skin, redness, and itching. Psoriasis is another skin disease that can make you scratch your head. It’s a disorder that speeds up the life cycle of skin cells. Extra cells accumulate and form scales and red patches.
How can you ease your discomfort? You might find relief in these household items and over-the-counter products.
Apple Cider Vinegar
This kitchen staple is a popular home remedy for all sorts of problems — including psoriasis. If that’s what’s behind the crawling sensation on your noggin, try organic apple cider vinegar.
Here’s how you do it: Test it on a small patch of skin. If it burns or otherwise hurts, dilute the vinegar in water. Try half water and half vinegar. You can spray it on your scalp with a spray bottle several times a week. Leave it on or rinse it off after it dries. But don’t try this one if you have an open cut or sore on your head.
Peppermint oil is a food flavoring. But, it can also calm a nagging itch.
It has several qualities that might explain the relief it brings:
- It cools skin, which can calm irritated, inflamed areas.
- It increases blood flow, which may alleviate itch.
- It may kill lice with its chemical components.
Here’s how you do it: Stir two drops of peppermint oil into one cup of cool water. Gently massage the mixture into your scalp for a few minutes. Then shampoo and condition as usual.
Tea Tree Oil
Over-the-counter shampoos that contain tea tree oil may be good for the scalp. People use it for the itchy symptoms of psoriasis and dandruff. Tea tree oil may fight lice, too.
Tea tree oil may help because it’s a natural antiseptic, antibiotic, and antifungal. But, be careful. Some people are allergic to this oil.
Here’s how you do it: A little goes a long way. Use an eyedropper to add 8-10 drops of tea tree oil to 12 ounces of shampoo. Use only a small amount to wash and rinse your hair as usual.
This essential oil is a natural astringent, which means it can reduce bleeding from minor cuts as well as make skin less oily. It’s also an antiseptic. You’ll find it in some soaps, deodorants, shampoos, and lotions. Lemongrass may also ease the itch caused by dandruff flakes. A lab mix of lemongrass oil and hair tonic relieved itchy scalp in a recent study.
Here’s how you do it: Add two drops of lemongrass oil to one tablespoon of your regular shampoo. Gently wash and rinse your hair and scalp as usual.
Mineral Oil or Olive Oil
These household items relieve your itchy scalp because they soften and loosen scales caused by dandruff and eczema. Simply massage the oil into your scalp and leave it alone for about an hour. Then wash your hair.
How to Get Rid of Dandruff
Follow these lifestyle tips to ease or prevent an itchy scalp:
- Reduce stress. Believe it or not, your mental health affects your physical health. Stress can make your dandruff symptoms worse.
- Eat a healthy diet. A diet filled with zinc, B vitamins, and certain fats may prevent dandruff.
- Keep your hair clean. Gently shampoo at least daily to avoid an oily scalp. Try to cut back on hair styling products.
Several medicated shampoos are available over the counter. Different ones fight itchy scalp caused by dandruff, eczema, and psoriasis. What they do depends on which ones you buy. So, before you buy one, check to see if it contains any of the following:
- Zinc pyrithione, which is both antibacterial and antifungal
- Selenium sulfide, an antifungal medication
- Salicylic acid, an agent that rids the scalp of scales
- Ketoconazole, an antifungal medication
- Coal tar, which slows down the rate at which skin cells die and flake off
See your doctor if your scalp continues to itch after you try these home remedies or if:
- You can’t sleep or work because of the itching.
- You see lice in your hair.
- Itchy spots are sore to the touch.
(c)2019 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.
The Cleveland Clinic: “Do You Have Itchy Scalp? 5 Common Problems and Fixes.”
National Institutes of Health: “The Itchy Scalp: Scratching for an Explanation.”
Psoriasis.org: “Herbs and Natural Remedies.”
Asian Journal of Pharmaceutical and Clinical Research: “A Review of Peppermint Oil.”
The Mayo Clinic: “Home Remedies: Tips for Dealing with Dandruff,” “Dandruff,” “Seborrheic Dermatitis.”
Parasitology Research: “Activity of Tea Tree Oil and Nerolidol Alone or in Combination Against Pediculus Capitis and Its Eggs.”
Complementary Medicine Research: “Anti-dandruff Hair Tonic Containing Lemongrass Oil.”
If you’re constantly scratching your head because of an itchy scalp, it could be more than just dandruff.
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Many conditions can cause an itchy scalp ― from dandruff to ringworm or something more serious like a bacterial infection or autoimmune condition. Before you can stop the itch, you need to find out what’s causing it.
Here dermatologist Melissa Piliang, MD, explains five common causes and treatments for itchy scalp:
1. Dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis
These are the most common reasons for an itchy scalp.
“Your body’s inflammatory response to an overgrowth of yeast causes the itching and flaking associated with these conditions. Yeast normally lives on the scalp and other hairy areas of the body, but the problem arises when there’s too much yeast present,” says Dr. Piliang.
The fix: For mild cases, you can use an over-the-counter shampoo containing selenium or zinc pyrithione ― ingredients that help control yeast. For more serious cases, you may need a prescription-strength antifungal shampoo, topical cortisone or medicated foam, solution, cream or ointment.
This is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes raised, reddish, scaly patches on the skin or scalp. You can’t get psoriasis from other people. Experts don’t have a clear understanding of what exactly causes this skin disorder, but you’re more likely to develop it if someone in your family has it.
The fix: Dr. Piliang recommends trying over-the-counter medicated shampoos containing coal tar or salicylic acid to control scalp psoriasis. If those don’t work, make an appointment with your dermatologist. He or she can prescribe stronger shampoos and topical cortisone.
3. Tinea capitis
This is a fungal infection commonly known as ringworm, which can infect the scalp. Tinea capitis extends deep into the hair follicle, causing round patches of hair loss that increase in size over time. The rash may appear raised and with black dots or a stubbly appearance.
The fix: If you have a ringworm infection of the skin, you can use an over-the-counter antifungal formulation to get rid of it. Not so with the scalp.
“Since the organism exists deep in the hair follicle, you’ll need to take oral anti-fungal medications to resolve the problem,” says Dr. Piliang. Your doctor will verify that this is actually what’s causing the problem before prescribing these powerful medications.
4. Head lice
Although most people think of schoolchildren when they hear about head lice, they can invade anyone’s scalp. Dr. Piliang says lice prefer clean hair, so having a case of head lice doesn’t mean you have poor hygiene.
If you look closely, you can see tiny nits (eggs) attached to individual hair strands. They look a bit like dandruff, but they aren’t easily shaken off because they’re “glued” to the hair shaft. You might also be able to see adult lice moving around the head, but they’re harder to spot than the nits.
The fix: You can treat head lice with over-the-counter shampoos containing insecticides pyrethrin or permethrin.
“Each head lice shampoo formula has its own treatment protocol,” warns Dr. Piliang. “You must follow the instructions on the box exactly to get rid of the lice.” These work well ― if you use them as directed.
5. Allergic reactions
Hair dyes, eczema and atopic dermatitis are other, less common causes of itchy scalp.
The fix: Allergic reactions will generally go away on their own if you can identify and avoid the chemical to which you are allergic. This is challenging and specialized tests in a dermatologist’s office may be needed to sort out which chemical is causing the allergy.
When to worry about scalp itchiness
Most of the time, an itchy scalp isn’t cause for concern. But there are times when it can indicate something more serious. See your doctor when:
- Over-the-counter shampoos don’t make any difference.
- The itching keeps you up at night and affects your work or study.
- You see lice or nits in your hair.
- The itchy spots are very sore to the touch.
Dr. Piliang says that it’s always a good idea to see your dermatologist when you have a persistent itchy scalp – even if you think it’s just common dandruff. Your dermatologist can check it out and tell you which remedies will bring you some relief.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy
Have an itchy scalp? Find out the real reason causing it.
Written by Kriti Saraswat | Updated : April 9, 2015 6:58 PM IST
Do you often have the urge to itch your scalp? Does this leave you feeling embarrassed? In order to get rid of this annoying problem, you need to find out the real reason which is causing the itch in your scalp. We list six possible reasons for the same.
Lice are one of the first things that we suspect when we began scratching our head. These are parasites which live and grow in number on the scalp. These can cause extreme itchiness and can easily transfer from one person s head to the other. Mostly kids are likely to have head lice but some adults too have this problem. If you are also one of them, you can get rid of it with the help of medicated shampoos and home remedies. It is also important to maintain good hair hygiene to prevent them. Here s more on head lice.
- Monsoon Hair Care: Simple DIY Home Remedy For Frizzy Hair, Split Ends And Dry Scalp
- Dandruff can be an embarrassing problem: A few home remedies for healthy hair
- Dealing with an itchy scalp? 7 home remedies to get rid of it
Dandruff can also lead to an itchy scalp as the flakes sit on the head and accumulate more dirt and grime. The excess sebum produced by the scalp increases the itchiness further. Usually the scalp is either too dry or greasy when one has dandruff which also contributes in creating an itch. You need to get rid of the white flakes to reduce itchiness. Here are some home remedies for the same.
The more elaborate your haircare regimen is, the higher the chances of having issues such as an itchy scalp. This is because you may be using too many haircare products. This can invariably have a reaction if it does not suit your scalp. At times, even the build-up of products can result in itchiness. If you do not wash your hair well, shampoo can settle on your scalp and irritate it. Also, using styling products such as gels, mousse, sprays, etc. can cause a reaction when used extensively.
Is your scalp too dry? It is bound to be itchy as well. This is because dry scalp lacks any moisture or hydration which makes it rough and scaly. The constant itching only makes it worse making it a vicious circle difficult to get out of. In order to get rid of this problem, you first need to address your dry scalp. An oil massage or a rinse with apple cider vinegar will help reduce the dryness and also the itchiness. Here are some remedies that work.
If you thought only a dry scalp can be itchy you are wrong. A greasy scalp can be equally itchy due to the mix of sweat, dirt and oil. When these accumulate on the scalp, it tries to repel them which causes the itchiness. If you have a greasy scalp, make sure you wash your hair with a mild shampoo often to keep the itchiness at bay.
If your itchiness is not due to any of the above reasons, you may be suffering from a scalp infection or skin condition which has reached your scalp too. This could be making your scalp itchy and scratching it with your hands or nails could further exacerbate the condition. It is best to visit a trichologist and let them examine your scalp for any signs of eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, etc.
Maintaining proper hair hygiene will keep itchy scalp at bay. Make sure you shampoo your hair and comb it well for boosting blood circulation in the scalp. Avoid sharing combs and towels with others and reduce the usage of styling products. Also try these home remedies for getting rid of an itchy scalp.
Image source: Shutterstock
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Experiencing an itchy scalp at night is more common than you think. Here’s everything you need to know about what triggers scalp itch at night and how to deal with it.
Imagine cozying up in your bed and making yourself comfortable for a good night’s sleep. But as soon as you turn off the lights, a nagging itch begins on your scalp and ruins your sleep. If this situation reminds you of your night-time routine, you are not alone. According to a global survey, three out of four people have experienced scalp itch in the past six months. Scratching an itchy scalp at night makes you restless. And if it wasn’t enough, this kind of itching happens in all stages of your sleep, even disrupting your “deep sleep” that is the most restorative stage.
So, what does having an itchy scalp at night indicate? It implies that your scalp is out of balance and you need to make some serious efforts ASAP. And for that, you need to learn more about this phenomenon.
What triggers an itchy scalp at night?
Scalp itching can occur due to a variety of reasons such as:
• Dry skin
• Stress and anxiety
• Neuropathic scalp itch caused by diabetes or shingles
• Scarring alopecia
Apart from these common causes, oestrogen dominance is another factor majorly responsible for increasing the intensity of an itchy scalp at night.
A quick science lesson for you:
• Depending on the causes of an itchy scalp, there can be different mediators (chemical messengers) that trigger itching. In this case, the mediator is histamine.
• Although histamine is related to environmental allergies, it also contributes to an intense scalp itch.
• For someone dealing with histamine issues, there are two things that happen: either the body produces more histamine or it’s unable to break it down quickly.
• The second part occurs when the enzyme DAO (diamine oxidase), which usually breaks down histamine, isn’t produced to its optimum level.
• So, how does oestrogen fit into the picture? High levels of oestrogen block DAO from breaking down histamine, and a high amount of histamine causes scalp itch, eventually causing hair damage.
So, when you finally feel like giving in to the urge to scratch your scalp at night, remember that it can also cause *hair loss! Excessive scratching can damage your scalp and hair strands, and ultimately cause breakage. It can also cause inflammation that disrupts the hair growth cycle and makes your hair look thin, unhealthy, and patchy.
How to stop an itchy scalp at night?
Now that you know histamine is the culprit that triggers an itchy scalp, your treatment should focus on controlling it, unless you want to sleep with an itchy scalp at night. You can choose from the wide range of Head & Shoulders Shampoos as they are clinically proven to reduce histamine!
• Head & Shoulder Itchy Scalp Care Shampoo gives you flake-free hair and aids your fight against an itchy scalp. This nourishing eucalyptus shampoo takes care of the itchiness (associated with dandruff) and keeps scalp irritation, dry scalp, and dandruff at bay. Follow it up with Head & Shoulders Itchy Scalp Care Conditioner for a healthy scalp and beautiful hair.
• If you are short on time and cannot follow an elaborate shampoo and conditioner routine, you can control itchy scalp at night with the Head & Shoulders Itchy Scalp Care 2-in-1 Dandruff Shampoo + Conditioner. It is the perfect treatment for a stubborn itch. This incredible 2-in-1 hair product is created with HydraZinc formula that contains eucalyptus, and actively relieves scalp itch, irritation, dry scalp, and gives up to 100% protection from dandruff*.
How to soothe an itchy scalp?
People often resort to natural remedies to soothe an itchy scalp. This includes using coconut oil, aloe vera, olive oil, or baking soda. Though coconut oil and aloe vera have nourishing properties and keep your tresses hydrated, they do not help with an itchy head at night. These remedies only offer quick fixes and do not get to the root cause of the problem. So, the relief is only temporary. Another way of soothing this itch is to scratch it, but we DO NOT recommend using this technique to soothe your itchy scalp. It can lead to further skin irritation, hair breakage, bleeding, and impaired sleep. Scratching your head can only give you temporary relief, but what follows is not pleasant. You need something stronger and gentle at time same time, like these Head & Shoulders products.
Soothe your irritated scalp with these hair products whose active ingredients will protect it between washes and keep irritants at bay. Now you can enjoy uninterrupted sleep without worrying about incessant itching that causes hair damage.
(*visible flakes, with regular use)
*All references on this page refers to hair fall or hair loss due to breakage.
For Hair Health, Integrity and Hairstyles
Scratching is a natural reaction to an itchy scalp. But, when you scratch your scalp with fingernails it can cause your scalp and hair to become unhealthy and damaged.
When you have an itchy scalp, it’s a huge relief when you stop that itch. Whether you use a brush, your fingernails, or a comb, you just want the itching to be alleviated. Sadly, that relief is only temporary. And worst, you’re causing long-term damage to your scalp and hair.
Here’s What Happens When You Scratch Your Scalp With Fingernails
The outside of each hair strand is covered in cuticle scales, akin to scales on a fish. The back-and-forth scratching action chips away at the protective cuticle. This weakens the hair and makes it more likely to break.
And the worst thing to do is scratch your scalp with your fingernails. You risk scraping and cutting your scalp every time. This can cause your scalp to become inflamed and even get infected. It will be as painful and irritating as a cut anywhere else on the body. It can also be more difficult to treat these cuts and scapes if they’re covered by hair.
Constant scratching can lead to wounds and scabs, further damaging your scalp. The scalp can also become dry as the outer layer of skin becomes weak and lacks moisture. Scratching leaves your hair weak and your scalp vulnerable.
Our Scalp Protection Shampoo is designed to strengthen hair with every wash, leaving your hair strong, thick and visibly flake free.
What Causes An Itchy Scalp?
Mostly commonly, an itchy scalp is caused by dandruff. It’s how your body responds when irritants bother the scalp. Your body sheds the top layer of skin on the scalp rapidly. As long as your scalp is irritated, the shedding continues. This causes the scalp to become dry and itchy.
How To Get Rid Of An Itchy Scalp Fast Without Using Fingernails
The right treatment for an itchy scalp is to use a shampoo that:
- tackles the root cause of the itch; dandruff
- calms your scalp to relieve itch
Our Scalp Protection Shampoo contains eucalyptus which works on contact to give cooling relief. Plus, it’s a powerful protection from dandruff. With regular use, it tackles the root cause of scalp itch, leaving you feeling comfortable and soothe.
It might be cause for concern.
Got an itch on your head that you just can’t scratch? If those prickles and tingles go way beyond what feels normal, you might be wondering what’s to blame. Is it an allergy? An infection? Something even more serious?
Luckily, an itchy scalp is super common and typically has a pretty harmless cause that you can easily take care of. Here, the most likely causes of scalp itch, according to dermatologists, and what to do about it so you can stop scratching for good.
What it looks and feels like: You’ve got flakes and itchiness all over your head.
What causes it: Dandruff has three main causes: an oily scalp (not a dry one), a buildup of dead skin or styling products, or a yeast-like fungus called malassezia.
How to get relief: Vigorously massaging shampoo into your scalp (not just into your hair) may lift product buildup, but if flaking persists, use shampoo containing zinc or salicylic acid, which treat fungus, buildup, and oil, like Head & Shoulders Classic Clean Shampoo ($6, amazon.com). Still itching after a few weeks? You may need to visit your derm to see if something else is going on.
2. Allergic reaction
What it looks and feels like: Your whole scalp feels itchy.
What causes it: Ingredients in some hair products can prompt an allergic reaction, says Maria Hordinsky, MD, professor and chair of dermatology at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. “The allergen is often fragrance, or a moisturizing agent called propylene glycol.”
How to get relief: Stop using these suspects for a week; if the irritation goes away, replace your old products with fragrance- or PG-free options (for the latter, try the Alba Botanica line, $18.99, amazon.com). Scorching temps from styling tools like blow-dryers, flatirons, and curling irons can also dry out the scalp and cause itchiness, so keep heat settings on medium.
What it looks and feels like: Your itch is just in one spot, and you have raised, scaly patches.
What causes it: This is an autoimmune condition and it runs in families, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). Things like stress, an infection, some medications, and cold, dry weather can trigger flares, though.
How to get relief: If your dermatologist determines you have psoriasis, use a shampoo with coal tar—sounds weird, but it works—like Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo ($5, amazon.com), says dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Your doc can prescribe stronger remedies if needed.
4. Precancerous legion
What it looks and feels like: A crusty spot about a quarter-inch in diameter.
What causes it: It’s called actinic keratosis, and it’s the result of sun exposure over many years, says Dr. Hordinsky.
Next steps: About 10 percent of these become cancerous, so see your derm ASAP to have it checked and, if needed, removed. Ward off future damage by using a sunscreen specially formulated for the scalp, such as Banana Boat Sport Quik Dri Scalp Spray ($9.99, amazon.com)—yes, in the winter too.
What it looks and feels like: Red, itchy spots where the skin is raised.
What causes it: It’s usually linked to an allergic reaction to something, like your shampoo or a product you used, says board-certified dermatologist Ife J. Rodney, MD, founding director of Eternal Dermatology + Aesthetics.
How to get relief: “Take an oral antihistamine, like Benadryl or Zyrtec,” Dr. Rodney says. One thing you shouldn’t try is a topical antihistamine cream. “They can make things worse,” Dr. Rodney says.
What it looks and feels like: Lice create an itchy feeling that can be all over your head. You may also see the eggs of the parasites along your hair shaft (they can look like grains of rice), Dr. Rodney says.
What causes it: You get head lice from coming into contact with someone who has the condition, or from sharing things that they’ve used, like a hat, comb, or brush.
How to get relief: Permethrin shampoo is usually used to treat lice. While you can find it OTC, “you may need a prescription,” if you have a particularly intense case, Dr. Rodney says.
What it looks and feels like: Dr. Rodney describes it as “really intense, annoying itching.”
What causes it: Scabies is caused by tiny mites that burrow in your scalp. Scabies isn’t very common, but people who do get the condition usually have had close contact with someone with scabies. They may have recently stayed at a motel or hotel that was infested, Dr. Rodney says.
How to get relief: “You need to see a dermatologist,” Dr. Rodney says. “Over-the-counter treatments don’t usually clear this up.” Like lice, scabies is usually treated with permethrin, she says.
8. Scalp ringworm
What it looks and feels like: Dandruff or scaliness, although it could be a round patch with raised borders.
What causes it: The contagious fungal infection is caused by direct contact with an infected person, Dr. Rodney says.
How to get relief: You’re probably going to need prescription-strength antifungal medications, like a lotion or ointment that you put on your skin, Dr. Rodney says. In some cases, you’ll need an oral antifungal medication. Meaning, you need to call your doctor.
9. Atopic dermatitis
What it looks and feels like: Atopic dermatitis on your scalp looks like itchy, red skin. It’s also likely to show up on your elbows and backs of your knees, Dr. Rodney says.
What causes it: It’s usually genetic, meaning you’re more likely to have it if someone else in your family has the condition.
How to get relief: Try to figure out your triggers, like scented or abrasive shampoos. “It’s super important to take short, warm showers, instead of hot showers,” Dr. Rodney says. You’ll also want to use a gentle conditioner to moisturize your scalp. Talk to your doctor if you’re still struggling.
10. Nerve issues
What it looks and feels like: You won’t see anything on your scalp, except for maybe scratch marks from you. “We can always tell when a patient has nerve issues because there’s no primary skin lesion,” Dr. Rodney says.
What causes it: Nerves in your scalp that are over-reacting and firing too often.
How to get relief: See your primary care physician—they’ll likely refer you to a neurologist, Dr. Rodney says. “Some medications can help,” she adds.
Here’s how to settle a wayward scalp.
If an itchy scalp has been driving you crazy, there are a number of ways you can fix it. We spoke to Expert Trichologist, Sara Allison, and Tom Brooks, Chemist and Head of Research and Development at Leonor Greyl, to get all the expert advice on how to tackle the itchiness.
1) Switch your shampoo
Shampoos with the surfactants (detergents) sodium laureth sulfate or sodium lauryl sulfate (both SLS for short) may be satisfyingly sudsy, but they’re also very drying on the scalp. “They can even cause redness and irritation, especially when they’re not formulated alongside certain ingredients that may neutralise the irritation,” says Tom Brooks. Simply switching to an SLS-free shampoo such as Wella Elements Renewing Shampoo , can stop you scratching in a matter of days.
2) Give it a rinse
“Always finish your shampoo and conditioning session with a cool water rinse – and make it last as long as it takes for all the product to be gone,” advises Tom. Which is when your hair is, quite literally, squeaky.
3) Mind the silicones
“Silicones do not penetrate the skin, but they form a barrier on your skin or hair that blocks the penetration of other ingredients. Over-use can weigh down hair and potentially suffocate your scalp, which is obviously not great for its health,” warns Tom. You’ll find silicones in a lot of smoothing and straightening shampoos, conditioners and serums; look out for any words in the ingredient list ending with –methicone.
4) Don’t get stuck with glue
“Glue or resin-type ingredients (you’ll find them in loads of hairsprays as well as volumising and curl-boosting styling products) may suffocate the scalp as well, if they’re not washed out regularly,” says Tom. Use an SLS-free clarifying shampoo once a week; we like Unite’s Weekender Shampoo .
5) Oil up
“As with the skin on any other part of the body, a dry, tight feeling can be due to a lack of moisture and oils, both in your diet and applied topically,” says trichologist Sara Allison. Eat plenty of healthy fats (nuts, avocados, oily fish) and invest in regular moisturising masks or oil treatments for your hair and scalp. Try Leonor Greyl Huile Secret de Beauté .
6) Don’t wig out
“Limit your wearing of hats or wigs as much as possible; overdoing it can cause a lack of oxygen to the scalp and cause a variety of scalp problems,” says Tom.
7) Brush your hair
If you’ve tried all of the above and your scalp still flakes, you have dandruff, which basically means that your scalp is over-producing new skin cells and shedding an excess of old ones. If you don’t regularly brush your hair and scalp, try doing this daily, as it aids the shedding of skin cells and can in some cases improve the situation
8) Exfoliate your head
Alternatively, help shed cells once a week by exfoliating your scalp just like you would your face. You could use a scalp scrub, but products containing fruit enzymes or salicylic acid (which both slough off dead cells without any scrubbing) are the gentlest option. We like Philip Kingsley’s Itchy Scalp Mask .
9) Treat dandruff
Persistent and over-enthusiastic flaking could be due to an over-production of yeast or a fungal infection, which is why most over-the counter dandruff shampoos contain anti-fungal or anti-microbial ingredients such as zinc pyrithione, coal tar, tea tree oil, piroctone olamine or ketoconazole. Unfortunately, most of these shampoos also contain SLS. A SLS-free cleanser with anti-dandruff properties, like Matrix Biolage Cleansing Conditioner , is worth giving a go.
10) Be consistent
“If you have oily flakes, and red, greasy patches covered with white or yellow scales on your scalp (or even elsewhere), you have seborrheic dermatitis,” says Sara. “It’s caused by a yeast germ that feeds on excess sebum, and triggered by an allergic response to stress, cosmetics or foods.” A lack of hygiene may set the condition off as well, but you’d have to be pretty grubby for that to be the case. It can come and go and is treatable with dandruff shampoos – but you have to use them consistently for the dandruff to stay away. A powerful but gentle option is Philip Kingsley’s Flaky Itchy Scalp Shampoo. If no dandruff shampoo will work after a few weeks’ use, see a GP or trichologist as you may need stronger prescription treatment.
11) See an expert
“If your scalp is extremely flaky and extremely dry, you might be suffering from psoriasis,” says Sara. “It’s an auto-immune condition that can be genetic, with triggers similar to seborrheic dermatitis. With psoriasis, cells will renew every week instead of every month, creating a massive build-up of overlapping cells. They block follicles, hindering the penetration of your own moisturising sebum as well as cosmetic oils and lotions, which is why the scalp feels so dry.” Regular anti-dandruff shampoos may not be right option for this condition, so if you suspect you have psoriasis, it’s best to seek professional advice.
In this Article
- Science of Scratching
- Different Itches
- Tips for When You Itch
When youвЂ™ve got an itch, you probably want to scratch it. But whether itвЂ™s from a mosquito bite, chickenpox, or chronic skin issue like eczema, any relief from scratching will be short-lived. And too much scratching can make the problem much worse.
Science of Scratching
Your muscles, joints, and organs can hurt. But your skin is the only part of your body that can feel both pain and itch.
An itch can be triggered by something outside your body, such as poison ivy, or by something happening on the inside, such as psoriasis or allergies.
Though it feels good, scratching actually triggers mild pain in your skin. Nerve cells tell your brain something hurts, and that distracts it from the itch. It can make you feel better in that moment, but 1 in 5 people say scratching makes them itch somewhere else on their body.
Sometimes the pain from scratching makes your body release the pain-fighting chemical serotonin. It can make the itch feel even itchier.
ThatвЂ™s why the more you scratch, the more you itch. The more you itch, the more you scratch. This cycle can be tough to break, especially if your itch is really bad.
Not all itches are alike. Many happen when your body reacts to pollen, nuts, and other allergens — your immune system makes a chemical called histamine. Others come from a problem with your nervous system, like shingles or a stroke. With those, you might feel numbness and tingling along with the itch.
If you have psoriasis, your itching may feel more like burning. Some people compare it to being attacked by fire ants. Some drugs, like one used to treat malaria, cause a painful all-over itch.
Whatever the reason, itвЂ™s important not to scratch too much. It can lead to skin wounds, infections, and scarring. It can also make you anxious and stressed.
Tips for When You Itch
If you canвЂ™t take it and you simply must scratch, try not to use your fingernails. Instead, rub, pat, tap, or tightly hold the itchy area. You can also gently pinch your skin.
It helps to keep your nails short so youвЂ™re less likely to break your skin if you do scratch. You can also try wearing gloves to bed to protect your skin while youвЂ™re asleep.
You can try a few other things to deal with the urge to scratch:
Avoid вЂњitch triggers.вЂќ Whether itвЂ™s a wool sweater, hot room, or a certain cleaning product, know what sets off your skin, then try to steer clear.
Cool off. A wet compress or cold shower can ease the itching.
Take care of your skin. Dry skin will make itching worse. DonвЂ™t take long, hot showers or baths. Use a gentle, scent-free hydrating cleanser, and stay away from perfumed products.
Apply lotion. At least once a day, use moisturizing cream to soothe your itchy skin. Your doctor may suggest something that has menthol or calamine in it to cool your skin.
Ask your doctor. If over-the-counter creams donвЂ™t work, ask about prescription meds. For example, corticosteroids can help ease the itch from eczema and psoriasis. If itвЂ™s caused by nerve pain, like with multiple sclerosis, an antidepressant or anti-seizure drug might work.
Watch for infection. Call your doctor if your skin is tender to the touch, begins to smell, or oozes pus.
Washington University, St. Louis: вЂњWhy scratching makes you itch more.вЂќ
University of California Berkeley: вЂњPain and itch connected deep down.вЂќ
Cleveland Clinic: вЂњDry Skin/Itchy Skin.вЂќ
Mayo Clinic: вЂњItchy skin (pruritus.)вЂќ
National Psoriasis Foundation: вЂњManaging Itch.вЂќ
NHS Choices: вЂњEczema in Children: 7 Steps to Stop the Itch,вЂќ вЂњItching — Treatment,вЂќ вЂњTopical Corticosteroids.вЂќ
Nature Reviews Neuroscience: вЂњSensory neurons and circuits mediating itch.вЂќ
Seminars in Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery: вЂњManagement of Itch in Atopic Dermatitis.вЂќ
British Medical Journal: вЂњReferred itch (Mitempfindung.)вЂќ
American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology: вЂњWhat Makes Us Itch?вЂќ
Cancer Research UK: вЂњTips to cope with itching.вЂќ
National Multiple Sclerosis Society: вЂњItching.вЂќ
Angelica Bottaro is a writer with expertise in many facets of health including chronic disease, Lyme disease, nutrition as medicine, and supplementation.
Leah Ansell, MD, is board-certified in cosmetic and medical dermatology. She is an assistant professor at Columbia University and works in private practice in New York City.
An itchy scalp causes irritation on the scalp. Many conditions can lead to an itchy scalp, such as dandruff, allergic reactions, and skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. Treatment depends on the exact cause of your itchy scalp.
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Verywell / Katie Kerpel
Home Remedies and Lifestyle
There are many home remedies and lifestyle changes that you can do to help soothe an itchy scalp, but they should only be used if you’re certain of the cause. If poor hygiene is the culprit, make sure you clean your hair and rinse off any products. It’s also important to maintain a regular hair-washing routine.
If your hair is tightly curled or textured, washing your hair once a week may be enough. For people with straight hair, excess oil can build up more easily, which means they should wash their hair daily or every other day.
If the skin on your scalp is dry and causing your itchy scalp, moisturizing the area can help. You can do that with different kinds of oils, such as coconut, peppermint, or tea tree. Tea tree oil, in particular, has other uses, including being an effective agent to rid the hair of head lice, small insects that infest the head and neck.
Meditation may also be effective for helping treat an itchy scalp caused by stress-induced hives, a skin rash triggered by a reaction, or flare-up of eczema, itchy inflammation of the skin. Meditation has been proven to reduce overall stress, with one particular study finding that people who practiced meditation regularly saw a reduction in eczema symptoms.
When to See a Doctor
If you experience an itchy scalp that lasts longer than a few days and that’s accompanied by rash, you should see a doctor. Although the conditions associated with an itchy scalp are rarely serious, symptoms can be difficult to endure. Getting treated quickly can help reduce the irritability quickly and effectively.
When contact dermatitis, a skin rash caused by contact with a certain substance, is the cause of an itchy scalp, the best way to treat it is by eliminating the product that caused it, such as new soaps, shampoos, or detergents. You can relieve the itchy sensation of hives with a cold compress. Figuring out the cause of your hives can also help you reduce the risk of getting an itchy scalp in the future.
Over-the-Counter (OTC) Therapies
If your itchy scalp is caused by dandruff, which leads to flakes on the scalp, using an anti-dandruff shampoo that contains zinc pyrithione can help. These products can also treat seborrheic dermatitis, which causes scaly patches and red skin on the scalp.
Shampoos that contain salicylic acid are effective for treating scalp psoriasis, where skin cells build up and form scaly patches on the scalp. Salicylic acid can help reduce the scales caused by the condition and improve the scalp’s ability to absorb topical medications such as corticosteroids.
Ketoconazole is a strong antifungal, and a shampoo containing this ingredient is especially helpful for an itchy scalp caused by seborrheic dermatitis. It is also available as a prescription.
OTC shampoos and kits are available for helping you get rid of head lice. Hives can also be treated with OTC products such as an antihistamine or calamine lotion.
Prescription shampoos containing the corticosteroid clobetasol propionate have been shown to be the most effective agent when treating psoriasis on the scalp.
Head lice can also cause an itchy scalp. It is common in children ages 3–11. You can treat head lice with an OTC shampoo, but if that doesn’t help, you will need to see your dermatologist for prescription treatment. They may recommend a Ulesfia (benzyl alcohol) lotion, Soolantra (ivermectin) lotion, Ovide (malathion) lotion, and spinosad suspension.
Surgeries and Specialist-Driven Procedures
If skin cancer is causing your itchy scalp, a doctor will surgically remove the skin cancer mass and surrounding tissue. Skin cancers often don’t cause bothersome symptoms until they have grown quite large. When they reach a bigger size, they may itch, bleed, or even hurt.
The type of surgery used to treat basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma is called Mohs surgery. During this procedure, your doctor will remove cancerous growths layer by layer.
An itchy scalp can be caused by a variety of conditions, from dandruff to allergic reactions to chronic conditions like eczema and psoriasis. Some cases can be treated with OTC medications, while others require prescription treatments. It’s therefore important to first identify the cause of your itchy scalp so appropriate and effective treatment can begin.
A Word From Verywell
Having an itchy scalp can be uncomfortable, but there are ways to soothe the itch and get any underlying conditions taken care of promptly. If you experience an itchy scalp often, see your doctor, who will determine the cause. An itchy scalp is rarely the result of a serious medical condition, and treatment is typically a simple process.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best treatment for an itchy scalp?
The best treatment for an itchy scalp depends on the cause. For example, an itchy scalp caused by ringworm, a fungal infection that causes a ring-shaped rash, is best treated with a shampoo that contains ketoconazole, while you will need a shampoo with salicylic acid to treat itching of the scalp caused by psoriasis. Talk to your doctor to find out what’s causing your itchy scalp so you can get the most effective treatment.
How do you get rid of dandruff and itchy scalp?
You can get rid of dandruff with anti-dandruff shampoos, which can be found in your local drugstore or supermarket. These shampoos are typically effective at eliminating dandruff and the itch that comes along with it.
How can you prevent an itchy scalp?
To reduce your risk of developing an itchy scalp, you should practice good hygiene. Wash your hair regularly and make sure that all built-up oils, residue, and products are rinsed clean. Also, use warm water instead of hot water while washing your hair to decrease the risk of drying out your scalp, which can lead to itchiness.
What essential oil is good for an itchy scalp?
There are a few essential oils that can be helpful if you have an itchy scalp, such as coconut, peppermint, and tea tree oils.
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An itchy scalp is annoying. Your head might be itchy for many reasons. Knowing why your scalp is itchy can help you get the right treatment.
What is itchy scalp?
An itch is an irritation of your skin that makes you want to scratch. You can develop itchy skin anywhere on your body, including your scalp. The medical term for itchiness is pruritis.
What causes itchy scalp?
There are many possible causes of an itchy scalp. Common conditions include:
- Dandruff – white, dry flakes of dead skin on your scalp and hair from excessive skin production. Usually there’s no obvious cause, but sometimes it’s caused by seborrhoeic dermatitis.
- Seborrhoeic dermatitis – inflammation of the scalp that causes itch and skin flaking. It can lead to cradle cap in babies.
- Psoriasis – a chronic skin condition that causes raised red scaly areas of skin (also called plaques).
- Tinea – a fungal infection of the skin causing red, flaky patches and itching. Tinea on the scalp is called tinea capitis.
- Head lice – contagious small insects that live in your hair and cause itching.
How is itchy scalp treated?
The treatment for itchy scalp depends on what is causing the problem.
- moisturising creams and ointments
- special shampoos, such as anti-dandruff shampoos
- specific treatments, such as:
- head lice treatment (wet combing with conditioner or chemical treatments)
- antifungal medicine for tinea capitis
- corticosteroid creams for seborrhoeic dermatitis
- psoriasis medication
Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the best treatment for you.
How can itchy scalp be prevented?
If you have chronic conditions such as dandruff, seborrhoeic dermatitis or psoriasis, you might need regular treatment to prevent the condition from coming back. Some shampoos can help – talk to your pharmacist.
For tinea, good personal hygiene, careful drying after washing and choice of the right clothing and footwear can help prevent a tinea infection.
Head lice are more difficult to prevent, especially in primary school children. One way to minimise the spread of head lice is to avoid sharing brushes and combs.
Learn how to relieve itchy scalp, when to see dermatologist
Learn how to relieve itchy scalp, when to see dermatologist
An itchy scalp can be a real head-scratcher — both literally and figuratively. Many factors can cause your head to itch, and pinpointing the actual culprit is not always an easy task. Some conditions cause an irritating tingling sensation, while others can feel like your scalp is on fire.
Here’s an overview of the most common causes of itchy scalp and recommendations to help stop the itch.
The skin on your scalp is thinner than on the rest of your body and may be more sensitive. Shampoos, conditioners and styling products contain many ingredients which can trigger allergic reactions, some of which may be severe. Harsh cleansers and chemical dyes are obvious suspects, but even “natural” and organic ingredients like plant-based oils, citrus extracts and fragrances may cause itching, burning, tender spots and/or a rash on the scalp and forehead. Try skipping a suspected product for a week or so and see if you get relief.
“This condition is known as contact dermatitis, and sometimes it can be tricky to determine exactly what is causing it,” says Alvin Coda, MD, a dermatologist at Scripps Clinic. “A board-certified dermatologist can do a patch test to help identify potential allergens, so you know which ingredients to avoid.”
This common condition causes itchy, dry, flaky scalp; look for telltale white flakes on your hair or clothing. Dandruff is not harmful or contagious, but it can be annoying. In most cases, a dandruff shampoo and scalp treatments can keep symptoms under control. Follow the directions for use carefully.
Severe dandruff is known as seborrheic dermatitis. If the problem persists, see a dermatologist.
Hair grows out of hair follicles in the skin. If a follicle develops a bacterial or fungal infection, it can become inflamed and irritated. This condition, called folliculitis, can spread to other follicles and often causes acne-like bumps that can be itchy, tender and painful. Mild folliculitis may clear up in a few days without special treatment, but more stubborn cases may require a prescription antibiotic or antifungal medication.
These tiny wingless bugs live on the head and neck and cause significant itching. Lice feed on human blood and lay their eggs at the base of the hair shaft. They travel by crawling and can be highly contagious, especially when people are in close contact or share towels, combs, pillows and other items that touch the head. Lice are not spread by pets, nor do they indicate poor personal hygiene.
Head lice or eggs are often visible upon close inspection of the scalp. If you do find lice, everyone in your household will need to be treated with an over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medication shampoo formulated especially to kill the bugs; follow directions exactly and repeat the treatment if needed. You’ll also need to wash all bedding, towels and clothing used by infected family members in hot water and dry on high heat, and soak combs and brushes in very hot water for at least 10 minutes.
“You’ll have to keep checking the scalp every day for a week or so to make sure the lice are gone,” says Dr. Coda. “Getting rid of lice can be a challenge, so don’t hesitate to call your doctor if you have questions or the treatment doesn’t seem to be working.”
Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes red, scaly patches on the skin. About half of people who have it will develop itchy patches on their scalp as well. Over-the-counter products for scalp psoriasis can provide relief, but if they aren’t effective, a dermatologist can prescribe stronger treatments.
“Many factors can irritate the scalp, so if you’re not sure what is causing the problem, make an appointment with a dermatologist,” says Dr. Coda. “We can diagnose the problem and get you on the right treatment plan.”
Ever had a car accident or traumatic neck injury? Ever notice there are both painful/burning areas in addition to the itch? Nerve related itch is a little known but pervasive source of itch. Arthritis and degenerative disk disease in the neck distributes all the sensations on a large portion of the scalp and creates a common and uncomfortable feeling on the scalp that is commonly interpreted as itch.
X-rays can identify structural issues that might be addressed by physical therapy or treated with oral nerve-calming medications.
Actinic keratosis (sun damage)
Sun damage accumulates over our entire lives, leading to abnormal growths and sun spots. One growth of concern to consider in your itchy scalp is an actinic keratosis, a scaly/rough spot that can have itching, discomfort, or no symptoms at all. These lesions are generally considered pre-cancerous in nature and should be treated to minimize the risk of developing squamous cell skin cancers.
These lesions can be treated with liquid nitrogen, chemotherapy creams and immune system stimulating creams.
An itchy scalp is definitely quite annoying. Especially, when you’re out or trying to do an important task but the itchiness doesn’t let you concentrate on anything. Here are 5 remedies to manage itchy scalp naturally
Picture this. You are in the middle of a meeting and suddenly there is this sudden urge to itch your scalp. You try to distract yourself, immerse yourself in something else, anything that would save you the embarrassment. But it just does not help! An itchy scalp is definitely quite annoying. Especially, when you’re out or trying to do an important task but the itchiness doesn’t let you concentrate on anything. If you’re frequently scratching your head, then it could be more than just regular dandruff. There are various other factors that can cause an itchy scalp like ringworm, bacterial infection, dryness etc. Itchy scalp can lead to excessive hair fall. We often end up spending a lot of money on trying various hair products just to cure this problem. But many times they don’t really work.
However, just few simple home remedies can possibly help you get rid of that itchy scalp. Read on to know more.
1. Baking Soda Baking soda has both anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties that help in killing the bacteria causing infection, hair fall or itchiness. All you need is 2-3 tablespoons of baking soda and water. Take a bowl and add both the ingredients in it. Mix it until the consistency becomes like a thick paste. Once you’re done with it, take the paste and spread it over your scalp for 10 to 15 minutes. After completion of 15 minutes, you can wash your hair with a regular shampoo.(Also Read:7 Amazing Hair Growth Foods You Should Be Eating Daily)
Baking soda has both anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties
Heat organic olive oil for around 7 seconds in microwave3. Tea Tree oilTea tree oil has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties which help in treating the itchiness by moisturizing and nourishing the scalp. Take 5-7 drops of oil and apply it directly on the scalp. Massage it thoroughly for few minutes and leave it overnight.(Also Read: 7 Easy Home Remedies to Get Rid of Dandruff)
Tea tree oil has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties I Image Credit: istock4. Coconut OilCoconut is loaded with anti-fungal properties that can treat itchiness and fungal infections to a great extent. Oiling the hair with coconut oil can help balance moisture. Take the coconut oil and warm it for 10 seconds. Apply it over your head and allow it to stay for 15 mins. Rinse off once it’s done.(Also Read: Coconut Oil For Amazing Skin And Hair)
Coconut is loaded with anti-fungal properties that can treat itchiness5. Aloe VeraAloe vera gel is a natural moisturizer and helps in treating an itchy scalp because of its anti-microbial and soothing properties. Take organic aloe vera gel and apply it directly to your scalp. Leave it for 15-20 minutes and wash it with lukewarm water. Repeat this twice a week to see better results.(Also Read: 5 Easy Home Remedies For Oily Hair)
Aloe vera gel is a natural moisturizer and helps in treating an itchy scalp
So, follow these simple home remedies and say bye-bye to that itchy scalp. Good luck!
The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. NDTV is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this article. All information is provided on an as-is basis. The information, facts or opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.
It is quite difficult to resist the temptation to scratch your head when you have an itchy scalp. It can be quite embarrassing when you have to do it in public. Not only does it cause serious discomfort, it can also lead to hair loss. An itchy scalp could be caused by many things, including excessive anxiety, dandruff, poor hair care, sebaceous cysts, viral infections, poor diet, and dryness. You need to identify the underlying cause.
How to Stop Scratching Your Head
If your scalp stops itching, you will also stop scratching your head. So you should find out the underlying causes of an itchy scalp and treat them. If you are scratching your head because of stress, you should take steps to relieve stress.
1. Get Rid of Dandruff
With those flakes sitting on your head, you are likely to collect more dirt and grime in your hair, which in turn will cause an itchy scalp. The matter becomes worse when the scalp produces excess sebum. People who have dandruff usually have their scalp too greasy or too dry. Try some remedies such as apple cider vinegar for dandruff to eliminate dandruff to stop scratching your head.
2. Treat Dry Scalp
When your scalp is too dry, you are likely to have itching as well. In the absence of enough moisture, your scalp becomes rough and scaly. In this condition, if you scratch your head, the scalp will become drier. Consider rinsing your hair with apple cider vinegar or having an oil massage to treat dry scalp. You can also mix your shampoo with aloe vera gel or lemon juice for a better result. For instant relief, you can put some talc or corn starch on your hair as it can absorb oily substances on your scalp.
3. Tackle Greasy Scalp
When it comes to how to stop scratching your head, you should know that an overly greasy scalp can also be itching mainly because of a buildup of dirt, sweat, and oil in your hair. Check if your greasy scalp is the cause of concern in your case. If it is, consider washing your hair using a mild shampoo to prevent itchiness.
4. Treat Scalp Infection
When your scalp is not overly dry or greasy, you may have a scalp infection or another skin condition causing itchiness. Keep in mind that you are only going to aggravate your condition by scratching you head with your hands or nails. Talk to your healthcare provider and have your scalp examined for signs of psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis, and other skin conditions.
5. Treat Head Lice
You may not know it, but you may be scratching your head because you have head lice. In this condition, your scalp reacts to the saliva of the lice, causing itchiness. How to stop scratching your head and treat head dice? You can try a number of ways to deal with this problem. For instance:
- Find a medicated shampoo and apply it on your hair as directed. Be sure to wash all your clothes and bedding in hot water and dry out for at least 20 minutes.
- Be sure to dry clean any non-washable items.
- Vacuum your upholstered furniture and carpets regularly.
- Soak your hair-care products, including brushes, combs, barrettes, etc., in medicated shampoo for an hour. You can use alcohol as well.
6. Change Your Hair-Care Products Regularly
Do not use the same hair-care products for an extended period. Many products contain harsh chemicals that stick to your scalp and cause itchiness. It is important that you keep changing your hair cosmetics like conditioners, shampoo, hair gels, oils, etc. It is even better to stick to baby shampoo when your scalp or skin is too sensitive. These products are generally mild and do not cause serious reactions.
7. Pay Attention to What You Eat
Paying attention to your diet can also help stop you from scratching your head often. Your diet should contain essential fatty acids. It is equally important to provide your body with other important nutrients such as zinc and other vitamins. Include the following foods which can keep your scalp healthy.
- Eat food rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as mackerel, salmon, sardines, and tuna. Flax seeds, walnuts, canola oil, and pumpkin seeds are also some rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
- Consume food rich in vitamin A. Butter, eggs, squash, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, carrots, and papaya are some nice choices.
- Include foods rich in vitamin C in your diet. Some best choices are strawberries, brussels sprouts, green peppers, spinach, and citrus fruits.
- Ensure that your diet also contains foods rich in zinc: The list includes seafood, poultry, neat, nuts, and whole grains.
8. Manage Stress Better
How to stop scratching your head if the itchiness is caused by stress? It is hard to avoid stress in today’s busy world, but you can certainly take steps to manage it better. You will notice your hair fall in clumps when you are under serious physical or psychological stress. You may also notice your scalp becoming itchy during these times. This usually happens because your body produces certain hormones and pro-inflammatory chemicals to deal with stress. Deep breathing, meditation, swimming, walking, gardening, and anything that makes you feel better about yourself can help relieve stress and prevent scalp itchiness.
For detailed tips on stress management, read this: How Do You Handle Stress?
Updated by Linda White on October 12, 2016
Dealing with an itchy scalp can be incredibly annoying, and uncomfortable. No one wants to spend their time focused on that ‘itching’ feeling, especially if you’re unable to sleep at night. More importantly, however, no one wants to be scratching at their scalp all the time. If you find yourself with an itchy scalp, it’s important to understand the possible causes behind it.
Once you know the causes, it’s easier to determine how to treat it. Once you know how to stop scratching your scalp, you can adjust your treatment based on your needs.
Let’s take a closer look at several common causes of an itchy scalp. They can be different for everyone, and it’s important to know that other factors are not on this list. If your itchiness doesn’t come from any of these common factors, see your doctor about other possibilities. The sooner you figure out why you can’t stop scratching, the sooner you can put an end to the itchiness!
Table of Contents:
Common Reasons Why You Can’t Stop Itching Your Scalp
Again, there are plenty of reasons that come into play when looking at an itchy scalp. Below, you’ll find some of the most common ones. Some of them are fairly similar and could be linked together. However, if you don’t feel as though any of those listed are your problem, don’t worry. It could be a variety of different things. And scratching your head too much can cause further damage.
However, these common issues are a good place to start. If you have any of the following conditions, it could be precisely what’s causing you to scratch your scalp. Let’s take a closer look at how they affect your body, your head, and the scratching symptoms that come with them.
Many people assume that dandruff is nothing more than the result of an itchy scalp. It’s a ‘what came first, the chicken or the egg?’ scenario when it comes to dandruff. Yes, if you scratch your scalp and you have dandruff, you’re likely to notice the flakes shedding off onto your clothes, neck, etc.
However, that means you have dandruff, and this is what causes the itchiness. When flakes of skin build up on your scalp, it can cause itchiness. To relieve that itch, we scratch, and the flakes fall. Dandruff is usually caused by either a buildup of grease on the scalp or a dry scalp. Both of these situations are also ‘scratching’ factors.
You might think a greasy scalp would prevent itchiness. More moisture, less itching, right? Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. A greasy scalp is usually made up of the natural oils from your skin, as well as external components, like dirt. If you produce too much of these things, they can cause a build up on your scalp.
This build-up can cause your body to fight back against it, which can create dandruff, as suggested above. As a result, you’re likely to experience an itching sensation. Simply put? Wetter isn’t always better when it comes to the overall health of your scalp.
A dry scalp might be more familiar to people when it comes to itchiness. It is caused by a lack of moisture, usually from weather conditions, products, or just the amount of natural oils your body produces. It can lead to somewhat of a cycle since you want to scratch your head, which just makes the overall dryness even worse. As you might be able to tell, now, there is a fine balance of hydration for a healthy scalp.
Hair products are often a significant factor with itchy scalps. Many of them contain chemicals that can strip your hair and scalp of their natural oils. They can also cause damage to the hair and scalp, depending on the types of chemicals used. People who dye their hair often are prone to an itchy scalp. Those who use powerful, salon-based treatments frequently are also at risk.
How to Treat an Itchy Scalp – And Stop Scratching, Too!
The good news in all of this is that for most of the common causes of an itchy scalp, there are treatment options. First, it’s important to recognize the cause so that you can utilize the right treatment. Let’s go through some of those common causes again, so you know how to stop scratching your scalp with the right solutions to each particular problem.
Dealing with Dandruff
As stated above, dandruff is usually a result of either a dry or greasy scalp. Once you pinpoint which of those problems affects you, you can find the right solution. First and foremost, seek out dandruff-preventative products. There are plenty of shampoos and conditioners on the market that works to reduce flaking.
Treating a Greasy, or Dry Scalp
A greasy scalp can be a result of your body’s natural oil production, as well as outside factors like sweat and dirt. You can fight back against it by switching up the products you use. If you do have an intensely oily scalp, using a milder scalp shampoo can help to keep it at bay.
On the other hand, a dry scalp should focus on hydration. You can start with a hydrating shampoo. However, you may need to look further into your treatment. A deep oil massage, deep conditioning, or even an apple cider vinegar rinse can help with a dry scalp.
Your scalp has a pH balance it needs to stay at, to be healthy and flake-free. Finding that balance with the right products and lifestyle can help to stop the scratching.
Choosing the Right Hair Products
Choosing hair products that are specific to your condition is the best way to fight back against an itchy scalp. If possible, always choose mild products. More and more companies are starting to turn toward more natural ingredients in their hair care products. Why? People are demanding it, thanks to the rise of scalp-related issues. Natural ingredients have a much softer way of dealing with your hair and scalp. There is no reason you can’t have the ‘look’ you want, and still, use a product that is good for the overall health of your scalp.
There are plenty of natural home remedies that can help to relieve an itchy scalp. Tea tree oil is probably the most popular solution. It can help to fight against a possible scalp infection, thanks to its antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. Tea tree oil also works by penetrating the scalp itself.
This helps with irritation and pain relief. Just take a few drops of the oil and apply it onto your scalp before you go to bed each night. It’s a treatment you can use every single day to ensure the health of your hair, and scalp.
Stop Scratching Your Scalp for Good
If you find that you’re prone to flaking, dandruff, or just an itchy scalp, there’s a good chance the cause behind it was something touched on in this article. Thankfully, there are plenty of simple solutions to treat it. Knowing how to stop scratching your scalp with the right treatment options can provide comfort, and relieve irritation (and embarrassment!) quickly.
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Five Tips To Avoid Your Scalp From Flaking
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If you always find yourself scratching your head, then it might be because of a stressed scalp. These hair care tips will help you do away with this problem.
Having a stressed scalp is a real thing. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
If your hair is falling like crazy, and an itchy scalp is not leaving you alone, then it’s a clear indication that you have a stressed scalp. Stress does not just bring you down emotionally, but it can cause other issues too. Sadly, your tresses bear the maximum brunt.
Stress commonly triggers and worsens flaking and itching of the scalp, especially if you are already prone to dandruff. This is because stress increases the production of certain hormones and releases pro-inflammatory chemicals that can compromise the scalp’s barrier function.
That means it’s easier for moisture to escape, potentially leaving your hair and scalp drier. This makes it easy for irritants to get in, and cause stinging, tingling and itching, and this in turn, may disrupt the microflora of the scalp.
Flaking of the scalp can cause hair loss, and scratching may result in further irritation and even abrade the surface of the scalp. Stress also increases the cortisol levels in our bodies, and cortisol levels have a direct correlation with the hair follicle. This causes stressors to trigger scalp issues that can lead to the growth of different fungi and bacteria or a flaky, itchy scalp.
According to Dr Ajay Rana, well-known dermatologist and aesthetic physician, if somebody has a genetic predisposition to follicle sensitivity, this can eventually cause the hair to start thinning. An increase in stress can make your scalp produce more oil.
A stressed scalp can give you these six problems:
Eczema is a common effect of stress that shows up on the scalp. It usually looks like a red, itchy, scaly rash. These scalp conditions are hereditary, but stress commonly triggers or exacerbates symptoms. Because stress slows down skin healing, disrupts skin’s barrier function and creates an inflammation-friendly environment, the itching and dryness that accompanies eczema can become worse.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder, and is likely to flare up with increased stress. That’s because stress has the ability to upset the body’s hormonal balance and normal immune response. It shows patches of hardened plaque with fine or thick silvery-white scales that can itch, bleed or flake.
Nourish your hair with a scalp massage, but choose the oil carefully. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
3. Sores, blisters, or bumps
Painful sores, blisters, or bumps that develop on the scalp can be caused by the infection of the hair shafts or the skin. Viral infections, such as chickenpox and shingles, acne, cyst, such as an epidermal cyst are also very common.
4. Contact dermatitis
This condition appears when the scalp turns red, itches, and flakes after you wash it. This allergic reaction happens when you use certain shampoos, soaps, or other products in the hair.
5. Skin cancer
Skin cancer can occur on the scalp, particularly in areas that are not well-covered by hair. It can destroy skin cells and tissues, and in some cases can be spread to other parts of the body. Skin cancer may appear as a growth or mole, a change in a growth or mole, a sore that does not heal, or irritation of the skin.
6. Dry and Itchy Scalp
Stress increases the production of certain hormones and releases pro-inflammatory chemicals that can compromise the scalp’s barrier function. That means it’s easier for moisture to escape, potentially leaving the hair and scalp drier, and for irritants to get in and cause stinging, tingling and itching.
A scalp massage will relax you like no other. But does it work for hair growth? Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Thankfully, you can totally deal with a stressed scalp with these tips
- Wash your hair less frequently in order to allow hair’s natural oils to build up and moisturize the scalp. When you shampoo, use gentle products, such as baby formulas and those specifically formulated for people with sensitive skin.
- Use fragrance-free and hypoallergenic products, and avoid those with sodium lauryl sulfate, a harsh detergent that many find irritating.
- Always use a conditioner, which will help to replenish and hydrate the scalp. You can also try a deep conditioning or hot oil treatment to soothe the scalp.
- Use OTC or anti-inflammatory or antihistamine ointments recommended by a dermatologist to soothe symptoms of eczema, until your stress levels have come down.
- You can treat mild cases of psoriasis with medicated shampoos and other products containing salicylic acid, which help to slough off excess cells that build up and cause scaling.
- Avoid scratching or picking at your scalp, and be gentle when shampooing, towel drying and brushing or combing the hair.
So for the love of your mane, do take care of your stress levels!
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Whether it’s an old scab on our shin, that bit of dandruff on our scalp, or popping a zit that popped, it’s safe to say that we all – to some degree – pick at our skin. The question is why? What is it about the whole thing that satisfies us, and why is it that sometimes a seemingly harmless habit can go sideways? Curious for the answer, we hit up a psychodermatologist and dermatologist.
Why We Pick, Pop, and Scratch The reason why we pick isn’t exactly straightforward, but we can try to simplify. Dr. Stacy Chimento , a board-certified dermatologist for Riverchase Dermatology in Miami, Fla., breaks down skin-picking into three categories:
Mild / Minor Picking Habits: “This category refers to people who pick at their skin when they see that there is a stubborn blemish that they are not used to on their face. Usually, people that fall into this category don’t fixate on picking at their skin,” she says. Think: a few minutes to address the issue, then moving on.
Do You Pick Your Skin? Here’s Why And When To Stop
Intermediate Picking Habits: “This level of picking refers to those who pick at their skin if they see anything abnormal, from a change of texture, dry patch, or raised bump on the skin’s surface. These patients tend to also pick at their scalp if they notice any flakes or rough textures,” says Dr. Chimento. Think: turning skin-picking into a pastime.
Severe Picking Habits: “At this point, patients are picking at their skin incessantly even when nothing unusual is present. Patients who develop severe picking habits can often find themselves probing their skin in search of anything to pick, whether that be a scratch, a blackhead, or a scab,” she says. People in this category pick so much it can cause damage or impact their day-to-day life.
Mild skin-picking is understandable and normal; we want to look and feel our best and eliminate anything “weird” or “different” from our bodies. For some, however, picking becomes a slippery slope.
“[Severe] skin picking is often used to help regulate emotions; it can be a coping mechanism to relieve emotional discomfort, physical discomfort, or a blend of the two. If [a severe skin picker] is stressed or anxious, skin picking allows temporary relief,” explains Matthew Traube, a licensed psychotherapist who specializes in the field of psychodermatology.
This behavior actually has a name – “Body-Focused Repetitive Behavior” (BFRB). It is defined as repetitive self-grooming behavior, including skin picking or even pulling hair from your body. In addition to soothing during times of stress or discomfort, Dr. Chimento says that skin picking can also provide a sense of “control” or can even be done out of sheer boredom.
“Picking can occur both consciously or unconsciously,” adds Traube. “Ultimately, the underlying issues do not get addressed and generally people feel awful about it afterward.”
The Dangers of Skin Picking Carefully addressing a singular zit (or two), futzing with a scab, examining a new bump or patch, or occasionally scratching at dandruff are all within the realm of normal picking. It’s okay and healthy to pay attention to our bodies and groom ourselves.
The line is drawn when skin picking becomes compulsory and/or excessive – to the point you’re inflicting real damage or pain versus trying to quickly address a skin issue. This damage can range from mild to extreme. Dr. Chimento says that bleeding, bruising, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), secondary infections, and permanent scarring are not uncommon.
In addition to physical damage, severe picking can also impact your life and wellbeing. Compulsory skin pickers can spend hours obsessing in front of a mirror and still feel like they must keep going. Like other addictions, it can distract them from important things in life, such as work, relationships, exercise, and social engagement.
How to Curb a Picking Habit That’s Gone Too Far To cease the picking, it’s important to take thoughtful action in order to set yourself up for success.
“In the early stages of trying to ‘quit’, try wearing gloves when your hands are not occupied. If you are at work, keep a squeezable ball on your desk. Each time you experience urges to pick, will yourself to resist for longer durations,” suggests Dr. Chimento. “Sometimes the urge to pick is manifested by skin conditions such as dry, cracked skin, or oily skin that produces acne. Instead of picking at it, treat the problem instead.”
If you’re working through a skin-picking addition and experience breakouts, it’s also better to visit your dermatologist for a facial or cleanup to prevent you from slipping down that slope. Another way to help is to keep your nails trimmed, which makes it harder to pick. And while you’re at it, toss those tempting instruments, such as tweezers, small manicure scissors, and anything else you use to pick your skin.
Traube adds, “It’s common for people to pick more when they’re alone, so I might suggest creating a weekly social schedule to assure that you are more often engaged with others. Social support can make a significant impact on skin picking.”
If small steps fail, even when aware of the issue and attempting to address it, consult a licensed therapist. A therapist can talk you through the process and help you understand the root of what is causing and magnifying the disorder.
“Professional help usually involves a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy, habit reversal training, mindfulness, and psychodynamic therapy,” says Traube, “We want to address both the act of skin picking and the deeper emotional issues that can provoke it.”
Bottom Line: To a degree, we all pick at our skin, and in the mildest cases, it’s perfectly normal. If you sense yourself slipping or feel like you’re losing control of the situation, tackle the underlying issue and set yourself up for success by following the above advice. If you do find yourself picking to an extreme degree and are struggling to gain control, you’re not alone. A professional can help guide you to the other end.
February 5, 2015
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Many of us have nervous, absent-minded habits we wish we could quit: knuckle cracking, nail biting, hair twirling and the like. These behaviors are usually harmless — we catch ourselves or a friend teases us about it and we stop. But some benign habits can develop into more harmful behaviors.
Excoriation disorder, or skin picking, is repetitive, compulsive picking and scratching at the skin, to the point that it causes serious tissue damage. At its extreme it can lead to skin infections, severe bleeding and even skin grafts and surgery to repair the damage. It may begin as a response to genuine itchiness caused by allergies or other physical conditions (which can be debilitating in their own right), but skin picking is generally considered a mental disorder. In 2013, it was included in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).
While we may think of something like excessive scratching as shameful or embarrassing, Jon Grant, JD, MD, MPH, professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of Chicago, says it stems from a sense of reward.
“People who pick at their skin may start years ago because they have blemishes or pimples and they’re trying to pick at those. But over time nothing is wrong and they pick at perfectly fine, normal skin,” he said. “If you think about it, when you scratch an itch, it’s incredibly rewarding on some level. But at some point people with this disorder look in the mirror and say, ‘What have I done?'”
Grant, whose research focuses on treatment for impulsive and compulsive disorders and addictions, says skin picking could fall under an umbrella of other excessive grooming behaviors, like hair pulling or nail biting. But because of the damage skin picking can cause, for now it’s categorized on its own.
In a recent research study published in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders, Grant and his colleagues studied 73 adults meeting the DSM-5 criteria for excoriation disorder. They were categorized as “high impulsivity” or “low impulsivity” based on a standard questionnaire and a computerized neurocognitive test. By some measures, the high impulsivity subjects showed higher levels of anxiety, depression and uncontrolled urges, but the results varied depending on the scoring method.
While this study was somewhat inconclusive, Grant said the point of this line of research is to understand the individual mental components that make up the behavior of skin picking. A highly impulsive patient is driven by the reward of scratching the skin. This might suggest similar treatment as addictive behaviors, which are also driven by impulsivity.
“It’s a way to understand the severity of the disorder, and whether there’s something more basic that needs to be targeted,” Grant said. “We want to get at a root cause.”
Grant is also working on imaging studies, to see which parts of the brain activate in patients when they indulge urges to scratch. The goal is to develop clear clinical presentations of patients suffering from excoriation disorder so that doctors could apply more effective medication or cognitive therapy, based on their severity or level of impulsiveness.
While we all indulge our own little embarrassing habits, skin picking is more widespread than we think. Recent studies have estimated that between 1.4 and 5.4 percent of the population could meet the DSM-5 criteria for excoriation disorder. Eventually, Grant said it may be lumped back in with other behaviors like hair pulling, but for now, it’s common enough to warrant its own study.
“Your grandma would probably tell you they’re all the same ‘nervous habits,'” he said. “But maybe they are somewhat different, and we don’t know enough. I’m always amazed that people are amazed by skin picking. It just seems so common and so human.”
Let’s be real; there is nothing fun about having a case of lice. Similarly, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of relief once your lice treatment is over. But if your head still itches after lice treatment, this could send you right back into the panic and stress you just rid yourself of. Did your lice come back? The experts of Remedy Lice Boutique in Grand Rapids, MI are here to remind you to stay calm. There are a variety of reasons why your head still itches after lice treatment. Here we will cover the four primary reasons that your head still itches after head lice treatment, including:
- Dry Scalp from Treatment
- Psychosomatic Itching
- Healing Louse Bites
- Incomplete Treatment
We will cover each of these possible sources of continued itching and provide you with options for treating your itchy head after lice treatment. If you still have questions or concerns, feel free to call us at (616) 202-5449 or visit our website.
Dry Scalp from Lice Treatment
One of the most common sources of your head still itching after lice treatment is from a dry or irritated scalp from treatment. All over-the-counter lice treatments contain a variety of irritants – from chemicals to salt-based compounds – that cause irritation and drying on the scalp.
However, we at Remedy’s strongly advise you avoid these treatments due to the harmful effects of these chemicals. Many are considered carcinogenic and unsafe. Children, women who are pregnant or nursing, and people with severe allergies or asthma should avoid use. We at Remedy’s have a range of different at-home lice solutions that are non-toxic and still very effective. If you’ve already used any of the over the counter remedies and your head still itches after treatment, there are a few simple solutions for these issues.
How To Fix It:
Moisturizing & Dandruff Shampoos: If you find that your scalp is dry after treatment, an extremely affordable, long-term treatment is trying out a shampoo and conditioner designed to hydrate the scalp. It’s important to note one thing, however. Dandruff shampoos often contain certain ingredients, which in some people can further irritate the scalp further. This can be an escalated risk for children.
Natural Oils: As a natural remedy to an itchy scalp, explore the variety of oils that can be massaged into the scalp to help moisturize the skin. Some recommendations include coconut oil and argon oil. Both have a variety of uses, are inexpensive, and have minimal side effects.
Deep Conditioning Treatments: There are a variety of deep conditioning treatments on the market, many of which can be purchased at drug stores or beauty supply stores. Look for deep conditioning treatments that nourish the scalp and use all-natural ingredients to avoid further irritation.
Have you ever watched a documentary or a video online about insects and instantly felt like you were covered in bugs? Similarly, your skin is probably crawling right now just from reading about lice! Chances are, you’re experiencing psychosomatic itching which many psychologists classify as a panic-stricken condition. Simply put, psychosomatic itching is a manifestation of anxiety and paranoia happening actively on the human body. Psychosomatic itching can be a frustrating experience that you just cannot wait to get rid of, luckily there are some strategies to address it.
How to Fix It:
Since psychosomatic itching is literally a phenomenon in your head and not on your head, it can be difficult to treat. Since psychosomatic itching is based in anxiety, we recommend the same approaches many take at combating anxiety, including:
Grounding Techniques: Many people with anxiety work to focus on other feelings in their body using all five senses. Take time to focus on things around you that you are feeling, smelling, tasting, seeing and hearing. By distracting yourself with these other senses, you can train your mind to avoid the psychosomatic itching.
Self-Awareness: Take a second to recognize that this feeling is likely all in your head. Chances are, if you didn’t start itching until after you thought about lice, then you can know you are okay.
A Quick Lice Check: Of course, you can always ease your mind with a follow-up lice check. Once you can confirm that your lice are gone, your psychosomatic itching should cease instantly.
Healing Louse Bites
Lice are annoying little parasitic insects that get nutrients from human blood. To get the blood, they bite the scalp. Much like mosquito and other insect bites, these bites can cause irritation. Growing up you may have heard you mom always say that the only way to stop the itching is to stop scratching. We all know that’s easier said than done! Mom was absolutely right on this strategy, because itching can cause the louse bite to reopen, potentially get infected, and take longer to heal.
How to Stop Scratching and Fix It:
- Low-dose Antihistamines
- Icing the wounds or adding a cold compress to the scalp and or affected areas
- Use Witch Hazel. Witch Hazel is a natural astringent available at most drug stores and grocery stores. Witch hazel is an all-natural solution that is used for soothing skin, reducing inflammation, and ceasing the urge to itch.
Bad News: You Might Still Have Lice
Head lice treatments in progress at Remedy Lice Boutique
Now it is time to discuss a possible source of the itching that you’ve been dreading, you might still have lice. This harsh reality is an increasingly common issue. Since lice are becoming resistant to most over the counter lice treatments, you could easily still have lice. Many over the counter treatments are no longer effective against today’s super lice. Even if you chose a nit-picking technique or use a heated air treatment, lice reproduce quickly, and missing even a few nits could mean the population re-surges.
How to Fix It:
If your first lice treatment didn’t work and you’re tired of the stress and hassle of head lice, we recommend seeking professional help from the lice removal experts. Remedy Lice uses an FDA-cleared heated air treatment to effectively eliminate all lice and eggs, to prevent a re-infestation. Our specially trained professionals know the proper techniques for getting rid of lice without harmful, irritating chemicals. Our treatment has a 99% effectiveness rate, so, you can rest assured that you’ve treated your lice infestation fully and can get back to life as planned. If for any reason your lice treatment is not completely effective the first time, we offer a free re-treatment to truly ease your head lice problem.
Eczema doesn’t only affect the easy-to-see parts of your body — it can affect your scalp, too. In fact, scalp eczema is a type of eczema that causes inflamed, itchy, dry skin to form on your scalp.
The most common type of scalp eczema is known as seborrheic dermatitis, and its most unwelcome symptom is dandruff.
When a baby’s scalp gets this scaly, flaky skin, it’s often called cradle cap. (1)
Scalp Eczema (Seborrheic Dermatitis) Symptoms
The symptom of scalp eczema is skin patches that occur on your head. They may be:
Other skin conditions — such as psoriasis, allergic contact dermatitis (inflammation caused by an allergic reaction to a certain substance), atopic dermatitis (which often occurs in those with asthma or seasonal allergies), and folliculitis — may cause symptoms similar to those of scalp eczema. (4) People commonly confuse psoriasis and scalp eczema — but know that psoriasis usually has a whiter scale compared with scalp eczema, and psoriasis leads to sensitive skin patches that easily bleed when scratched. In some cases, scalp eczema and psoriasis can happen together. (5)
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What Causes Scalp Eczema?
Seborrheic dermatitis is a chronic inflammatory condition caused by the overproduction of sebum, the natural oils secreted by sebaceous glands in the scalp. It is not contagious.
Because seborrheic dermatitis is a condition related to the sebaceous glands, it can also appear in other oily areas of the skin, including the face (eyebrows, eyelids, and center of the face), ears, upper chest, upper back, armpits, and genitals. (3)
There is a strong association between seborrheic dermatitis and yeast of the genus Malassezia, which are normally present in the skin but often overgrown in people with the skin condition.
Scientists don’t fully understand the exact connection between the yeast and eczema symptoms, but research suggests that a nonspecific immune reaction may be to blame. That is, some interaction between Malassezia, their metabolites (substances produced during metabolism), and skin and immune cells results in an inflammatory reaction. (4,6)
Importantly, once someone becomes sensitized to Malassezia, the yeast will always cause an immune reaction. (7)
Is That Rash Psoriasis, or Is It Something Else?
Psoriasis — which leads to scaly patches of dry, red, thick skin — affects millions of people in the United States. Don’t confuse it with these other skin conditions.
What Are the Triggers and Risk Factors of Scalp Eczema?
There are numerous triggers that worsen scalp eczema symptoms. Those triggers include extreme weather (particularly cold, dry weather) and stress.
Some other potential triggers for scalp eczema:
- Hormonal changes
- Harsh chemicals from detergents and soaps
- Heavy alcohol use or alcohol-based lotions
- Medications such as psoralen (for psoriasis), interferon, and lithium
- Heavy sweating
- Exposure to an allergen
You have an increased risk of developing scalp eczema if you have these conditions:
- Nervous system disorders, including Parkinson’s disease, traumatic brain injury, stroke, and epilepsy
- Other skin conditions, like psoriasis, rosacea, or acne
- Allergies or a family history of allergies, like hay fever, asthma, and atopic dermatitis
- Depression or eating disorders (2,8,9)
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The Top Medications for Treating Eczema on Your Scalp
There is no cure for scalp eczema or seborrheic dermatitis, but medications can help reduce and prevent symptoms.
For example, you can usually treat irritation and an itchy scalp with a medicated, over-the-counter dandruff shampoo.
The chemical ingredients in these shampoos can help ease the inflammation and get rid of flaky, scaly skin when used two or three times a week. Look for these items:
Topical creams, ointments, or sprays made from these ingredients can also be applied to help calm the irritation and stop the flaking.
If you have severe scalp eczema, your doctor may prescribe products containing stronger doses of the aforementioned medicines or medicines containing other ingredients, such as corticosteroids, ciclopirox, sulfacetamide sodium, Protopic (tacrolimus), or Elidel (pimecrolimus). (2,9)
Use these easily available and effective home remedies to get relief from itchy scalp.
Itchiness in the scalp is a sign of skin conditions like psoriasis, dandruff etc. If not treated on time, it can cause severe hair fall. If your scalp is dry and you are experiencing dandruff or have lice in your head, you can try certain home ingredients to get rid of the itchiness caused by these problems. Those with oily and sweaty skin can also opt for these remedies and get rid of the problem. Also Read – Here is How to Apply Heena For Long And Strong Hair
Dry scalp is one of the most prevalent reasons for itchiness. You can moisturise your scalp with coconut oil. Massaging your head with this oil twice a week can treat the problem that’s causing itchiness. Adding a few drops of vitamin E oil to it will make it more effective. Also Read – Hair Care: How to Get Rid of Chronic Dandruff
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar acts as an astringent and clears your scalp. It contains strong anti-fungal and antibacterial properties that help you get rid of the dead skin cells on your scalp that are causing itchiness. Applying apple cider vinegar on your scalp can also maintain its pH. You should mix a bit of water in apple cider vinegar and then massage your head with it twice a week.
It has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties that kills pathogens responsible for causing skin issues that lead to itchiness. It also neutralises your scalp’s pH level. To get rid of itchiness in the scalp, you need to mix 2-3 tablespoons of baking soda in water and apply the paste on your scalp. Let it stay for 10-15 minutes and then rinse off.
It contains oleocanthal and oleuropei, components that have strong anti-inflammatory and skin protectant properties. Therefore, applying olive oil on your scalp can heal inflammation and help you bid adieu to itchiness. All you need to do is to massage your scalp and hair with warm olive oil. Leave it overnight. Next morning, wash off using a mild shampoo.
Lemon juice has antimicrobial properties. Also, it is acidic in nature and effective in healing inflammation. Applying fresh lemon juice on your scalp using a cotton ball and leaving it for 10 minutes can provide you relief from itchiness. After that, you can rinse off with water.
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Published Date: August 13, 2020 2:46 PM IST
Scratch scratch. Scratch. Your head is feeling really itchy. Could it be lice?
If so, you’re not alone. Every year, millions of people worldwide get head lice. Most of those millions are kids. Any kid who goes to school has probably already heard about lice. They can spread easily at schools, so if one kid gets them, the rest of the class might get them, too. What can you do? Let’s find out.
What Are Head Lice?
Lice are very, very small insects. In fact, they are so tiny that you can barely see them! Each louse (the name for one of the lice) is only about the size of a sesame seed.
Head lice need to be next to skin to survive — and the warmth of your skin is a perfect place for them to live. Lice eat tiny amounts of blood (much less than a mosquito does) for their nourishment and use their sticky little feet to hold on to hair. Gross!
When lice start living in hair, they also start to lay eggs, or nits. Lice can survive up to 30 days on a person’s head and can lay eight eggs a day. Lice attach their nits to pieces of hair, close to the scalp. If you see a small, oval blob on a strand of hair, that’s probably a nit. If these little eggs are yellow, tan, or brown, the lice haven’t hatched yet. If the eggs are white or clear, the lice have hatched.
Although they don’t hurt, lice sometimes can irritate the skin and make it itchy (especially at night). Too much scratching can lead to scalp infections.
Head Lice Love Everyone
Having lice can be embarrassing, but anyone can get them. That includes the cleanest kid in the class! Having head lice is not a sign of dirtiness or poor hygiene. The pesky little bugs can be a problem no matter how often a kid does — or doesn’t — wash their hair or take a bath.
Lice can’t jump or fly. They spread when people’s heads touch or when they share hats and other clothing, combs, brushes, headbands, barrettes, and bedding (like sheets, blankets, pillowcases, and sleeping bags). If lice are stuck on any of these things and that thing touches another person’s head, that person may also get lice. Lice spread in classrooms and schools because kids play together closely and often share more stuff than adults do.
How Can We Get Rid of Head Lice?
If your head feels very itchy, tell an adult as soon as possible. This is especially true if you know that other kids in your class or school have had lice. Don’t wait around — the more time the lice have to lay nits, the itchier you will be!
Often a parent or school nurse can recognize head lice just by looking for nits in the hair. Some kids’ parents will take them to the doctor so the doctor can check to see if lice are there.
If a kid has lice, an adult will need to buy a special medicated shampoo, cream, or lotion that kills lice. An adult will need to apply the medicine and follow the directions. Part of the treatment is combing your hair with a fine-tooth comb to remove the nits. The shampoo, cream, or lotion usually kills the lice right away. The itching should go away within a few days, but treatment may need to be repeated in 7 to 10 days to kill any new lice that may have hatched since the first treatment.
Do not use a hair dryer on your hair after washing with the medicated shampoo, lotion, or cream because they can contain flammable ingredients. You don’t want your hair catching on fire.
Removing By Hand
Your parent also can try removing the nits and lice by hand. To do this, your mom or dad will use a fine-tooth comb on your wet, conditioned hair every 3–4 days for 3 weeks after the last live louse was seen. Wetting the hair temporarily stops the lice from moving, and the conditioner makes it easier to get a comb through the hair.
Although lice can live for only 1 to 2 days off a person’s head, it’s a good idea for an adult to wash all your bedding, hats, clothing, and stuffed animals in hot water. Or they can seal these things in airtight bags for 2 weeks. That also will kill the lice and their eggs.
Vacuuming the carpets, upholstery, and car seats will take care of any lice that fell off before treatment. Combs, brushes, and hair accessories need to be soaked in hot water, washed with medicated shampoo, or thrown away.
Sometimes it’s hard to get rid of the lice. If that happens to you, have your parent talk to the doctor. There are stronger medicines and other treatments that they may decide to use.
Life Without Lice
Sure, lice aren’t so nice, but there are things you can do to keep them away. To help prevent lice:
- If your friend has lice, don’t give the lice any chance to spread to you. Avoid putting your heads together or sharing stuff that could contain lice, such as hats or combs.
- Don’t try on hats that belong to other kids.
- Never share a comb, brush, barrettes, or other hair accessories. Use your own, and don’t lend them to anyone else.
- Always use your own sleeping bag and pillow when sleeping away from home.
Sharing is usually a great idea — except when you’re sharing lice!
Can’t seem to shoo away that itchy feeling on your head? You’re not alone; statistics reveal that an itchy scalp is a common ailment, and is the result of an underlying skin condition.
Read on to know more about the basics of an itchy scalp and some simple home remedies to handle it better.
Causes of an Itchy Scalp
Socially unacceptable and is embarrassing, this condition is typically observed in patients suffering from skin conditions of the scalp such as seborrheic dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis and fungal infections of the scalp. An itchy scalp is often accompanied by dandruff (white-colored flakes of dead skin), making the condition even more concerning.
Other causes of an itchy scalp are listed below-
Fungal and/or viral infections of the scalp
Dryness of the scalp (due to weather changes)
Improper cleaning and washing of the hair and scalp
Allergic reactions due to certain chemical-based hair products
Symptoms of Itchy Scalp
Home Remedies for an Itchy Scalp
You don’t necessarily need a galore of shampoos and products to treat itchy scalp – you’re weapons lie right at your home. We’ve listed down some of the tried and tested home remedies to treat an itchy scalp. Read on…
Essential Oil Power– Don’t restrict the use of essential oils to just aromatherapy; a mixture of essential oils is considered a good home remedy for an itchy scalp. Choose from natural oils like lavender oil, tea tree oil, almond oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil and peppermint oil.
Always remember to use these oils in their diluted form, especially if you have a sensitive scalp. Regular application of these oils help nourish and moisturize the skin of the scalp, and prevent bacterial and fungal infections.
Lemon Goodness– Yet another powerful home remedy for treating an itchy scalp is the lemon. Simply squeeze a lemon, and apply its juice directly to your scalp before shampooing. This home remedy is effective in treating dandruff too!
If you have a dry scalp, mix together the juice of a lemon and 4 tablespoons of fresh curd. The curd will help moisturize your scalp naturally, while the lemon will fight against dandruff and an itchy scalp.
Apple Cider to the Rescue– You may find apple cider vinegar cropping up in the home remedies section of almost every condition; and why not? With its powerful anti-inflammatory properties and its natural goodness, apple cider is truly a star!
To treat an itchy scalp, make a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water, and apply it directly onto the scalp using a cotton ball. Leave it on for a few minutes and rinse with clear water. Apple cider helps cure yeast and viral infections of the scalp that cause the itchy sensation, de-rooting the problem from its very core.
Just cut out a leaf of the aloe vera plant and extract the gel; apply it directly onto the scalp, leave on for 10 minutes and then rinse.
Published on Sep 02, 2013
Last Updated on Jul 08, 2019
If you’ve ever had the distinct pleasure of sourcing stock photos for any reason, you’ve likely come across a whole lot of laughing women eating salads alone. But you’ve also probably stumbled upon a truckload of people scratching their heads to symbolize confusion, deep thought and/or perhaps a bad case of seborrheic dermatitis — dandruff. Scalp dryness aside, how exactly did the head scratch come to symbolize intellectual processes?
Some people believe that certain automatic gestures are simply natural, expressive motions our caveman predecessors passed down to us. “One popular explanation for any hand-to-head movements is that they’re frustrated aggression — a reversion to the natural movements of our rock-throwing ancestors,” wrote San Diego Reader columnist Matthew Alice. “If you watch a small child strike at something, he’ll raise an arm over his head and bring it forward in an arc. It’s a natural, unstudied movement. Not much finesse, but for a caveman it got the job done.”
Alice also pointed to a possible anthropological explanation for head scratching: “When we’re wrestling with some knotty problem, we experience feelings of frustration, perhaps some anger, and before we know it, our hand flies up in the air. But hold it. In these modern times, it’s not polite to bash the guy who asked the question. So instead we deflect attention from the movement and scratch or rub our head or chin or neck.” Interesting . and kind of a dark interpretation of human behavior.
In a 2009 article for Psychology Today, author and former FBI Counterintelligence Agent Joe Navarro wrote, “When we are under stress, our brain requires a certain amount of hand to body touching (hand wringing, forehead rubbing, temple massaging, lip touching, etc.). These pacifiers serve to soothe the individual when there is negative limbic arousal [fear, stress, etc].”
More recent research seems to back up this stress theory and add another unexpected layer to the story. In a 2017 study, which was published in the journal Scientific Reports, scientists who observed 45 rhesus macaques found that scratching was more likely to occur in times of heightened stress (like standing in the presence of high-ranking or unfamiliar monkeys). It turns out monkeys who scratched were significantly less likely to be attacked by those threatening strangers.
“As scratching can be a sign of social stress, potential attackers might be avoiding attacking obviously stressed individuals because such individuals could behave unpredictably or be weakened by their stress, meaning an attack could be either risky or unnecessary,” lead author Jamie Whitehouse said in the study.
So while there’s no single explanation for this head scratcher (ugh, you knew that was coming — sorry), it appears acting out your anxiousness with this stereotypical tic could keep you in the good graces of others.
Itching is still a pretty mysterious phenomenon to scientists but recent research suggests the tickly sensation isn’t necessarily a mild form of pain but its own distinct occurrence caused by a molecule that sends a message from the heart to the spinal cord.