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Itchy Scalp: Causes, Treatment, And Prevention
Most people have dealt with an itchy scalp at least once in their lives. Itchiness on your scalp is annoying and uncomfortable. In some cases, it may be accompanied by visible symptoms, such as scabbing or flaking. Other times, your scalp may itch without visible changes to your skin.
Whatever level you’re dealing with, we’re here to help. At Bodewell, we are dedicated to finding powerful skincare solutions so you can live a life free from limitations.
Below, we’ll discuss some of what may be causing your scalp to itch, effective treatments that you can start at home today, and preventative tips to help reduce your chances of getting it in the first place.
Table Of Contents
Symptoms Of An Itchy Scalp
If you’re dealing with an itchy scalp, it may be painful or tingly around the problematic area. Scratching or itching your scalp may relieve tension, or it may cause pain.
Some common symptoms associated with scalp itching include:
- Dry, irritated skin
- Scalp swelling
- Scalp sores
- Patches or scales on the scalp
In some severe cases, you may find yourself developing pus-filled wounds or bald spots.
There are a variety of reasons why you may have an itchy scalp. Here’s a breakdown of the most common conditions that often contribute to it.
One of the most common causes of an itchy scalp is seborrheic dermatitis, or, as most of us know it, dandruff. (In babies, we refer to this condition as cradle cap.)
There are a variety of factors that can contribute to your dandruff problem, including:
- Skin irritation and oiliness
- Malassezia — a yeast-like fungus that feeds on the scalp oils of most adults
- Dry skin
- Seasonal changes
- Hormonal fluctuations
In addition to the above, although dandruff can occur in people of all ages, races, and cultures, people who suffer from certain diseases that weaken the immune system are more prone to this scalp condition.
Scalp psoriasis is a skin condition that occurs when your immune system sends incorrect signals to your body and your skin cells grow too quickly. These accumulate in red patches with silvery scales.
At least half of all psoriasis patients have it on their scalp. However, it can also appear on your brow, behind your ears, and down the back of your neck.
Scalp psoriasis is not contagious, but it is a family trait that can be inherited. In fact, most people who develop psoriasis have at least one additional family member affected.
Some common symptoms include:
- Reddish patches
- Silvery-white scales
- Dry skin
- Itching that can vary from mild to severe
- Dandruff-like flaking
Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a type of eczema that can appear on your scalp. When this happens, your scalp may become red and scaly. It may even burn or itch.
You may have this condition if you experience:
- Severely itchy skin, especially at night
- Dry skin
- Bumps that may leak fluid when you scratch them
- Scaly skin
- Sensitive and swollen skin
Harsh Hair Care Products
While there may be a medical reason for your itchiness, an itchy, dry, and flaky scalp may indicate that you need to do a better job of rinsing shampoo out of your hair, too. Product residue can cause irritation.
You may also have allergic contact dermatitis. People who dye their hair frequently experience this. The culprit is usually an ingredient called para-phenylenediamine (PPD), which is found in black hair dyes.
You could also be allergic to a shampoo, conditioner, or other product that comes into contact with your scalp. If this is the case, you will most likely develop an itchy rash on your scalp and any other skin that the product has come into contact with.
In addition to the above common causes, you may have an itchy head because of:
- Allergic reactions to medications
- Hair loss
- Scarring alopecia
From the above, you can see that there are multiple reasons you might develop an itchy scalp. It may take some time and sleuthing to discover what’s causing your particular case of itchiness.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to your doctor if you suspect you may have a medical condition, such as psoriasis or eczema. Understanding the reason for your itchy scalp can help you find the right treatment for you.
How To Treat An Itchy Scalp
1) Treating Dandruff
If dandruff is the culprit for your itchy scalp, there are lots of at-home treatments you can try to reduce oil and skin cell buildup.
Regular cleansing with a gentle shampoo, like Bodewell Dry Scalp Daily Shampoo, is a great place to start. Our unique almond oil formula helps moisturize your scalp and contains pyrithione zinc to combat flaking, itching, and dryness due to dandruff.
2) Treating Scalp Psoriasis
While psoriasis is a chronic condition, there are multiple home remedies you can use to help ease symptoms or flare-ups. These include:
- Using a baking soda and water paste to relieve scalp itching
- Coconut or avocado oil to moisturize affected areas
- Oatmeal soak to relieve flaking, itching, and inflammation
- Sea or Epsom salt soak to help reduce inflammation and redness
- Aloe vera gel or cream on the affected areas, three times a day
- Tea tree oil or turmeric to help reduce inflammation
It’s also important to pay special attention to the type of hair products you use. For example, products with witch hazel, coal tar, or salicylic acid — like Bodewell Psoriasis Scalp Relief Treatment — are effective remedies for scalp psoriasis.
Our Psoriasis Scalp Relief treatment is oil-free, and the proprietary BW22 botanical formula contains salicylic acid to help relieve itching and flaking on the scalp due to psoriasis.
3) Treating Atopic Dermatitis
While at-home treatments can help with an itchy scalp, successfully treating skin conditions like atopic dermatitis, starts with your doctor. Discuss your symptoms with them so they can help you find the most relevant treatment plan and medications for your condition.
In addition to following doctor’s orders, there are also multiple ways that you can take care of your skin at home to reduce symptoms and the need for prescription medications.
Some of the most effective ways to care for your skin at home include:
- Not scratching
- Keeping fingernails short to avoid hurting affected scalp areas after if scratching is unavoidable
- Avoiding irritants, such as wool and lanolin, because they aggravate symptoms
- Choosing gentler products that are better for your skin
- Using a humidifier to put moisture back into the air
How To Prevent Itchy Scalp
While some conditions may be hereditary, there’s still plenty you can do to prevent an itchy scalp in the first place.
Here’s a closer look at some steps you can take to help reduce itchiness in your scalp altogether:
- Stick to gentle shampoos, conditioners, treatments, and other hair products that are soothing to your skin and don’t strip it of its natural oils
- Wash your hair regularly. This helps remove built-up oils and reduces your chances of getting an itchy scalp.
- Always use clean towels and pillowcases, and, after washing, pat skin dry because wiping or scrubbing harshly may further aggravate your symptoms
Get Instant Scalp Relief With Bodewell
No one wants a dry and itchy scalp. But if you find yourself scratching relentlessly, then it’s time to do something about it.
As highlighted above, your first plan of action is to understand the reason behind the itch. Some common causes include dandruff, scalp psoriasis, and eczema. Once you’re clear on what’s causing the itching, you can move forward with a treatment plan for your specific condition.
One of the most effective ways to help with an itchy scalp is to change hair products and use ones that are effective in cleansing your scalp while also being gentle and soothing, like our Dry Scalp Daily Shampoo for dandruff and Psoriasis Scalp Relief Treatment for scalp psoriasis.
Armed with the above tips and treatment plans, your itchy scalp will soon be a distant memory.