Almost all of us have experienced itching in the scalp at sometime or the other. The reason behind itchy scalp could be many including improper hygiene, due to healing sunburn, allergic reaction, anti-inflammatory conditions or some underlying medical condition. In this article, we have covered some of the common causes of itching in the scalp and the treatment and home remedies to get rid of it.

What Causes Itching in Scalp

Common Causes of Itching in Scalp

Itching in Scalp Caused Due to Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrheic Dermatitis is a condition of the skin where there is formation of large, greasy, yellow scales which cause formation of crusts mostly in the scalp, face, eyebrows, eyelid margins, nasolabial folds, armpits, ears, groin and centre of the chest. This conditions causes itching in the scalp.

Itching in Scalp Caused Due to Tinea Capitis

This is also a fungal infection more commonly known as ringworm infection, which affects the scalp and causes itching in the scalp. Tinea capitis penetrates deep into the hair follicle resulting in round patches of hair loss which increase in size over the time. The rash of tinea capitis can be raised with black dots present or it can also have a stubbly appearance. Ring worm infection spreads from contact with animals, people and this organism is found in soil. Other methods through with this infection can spread is by sharing hairbrushes, pillows and clothing. This condition comprises of both inflammatory condition i.e. abscesses, pustules and lymph node swelling and non-inflammatory condition, which has round patches of hair loss with fine scaling infections.

Head Lice-Known Cause for Itching in Scalp

Head lice can be a very infuriating and annoying problem, which can cause persistent itching in the scalp. It is commonly found in schoolchildren; however, it can affect anyone. Lice are parasites, which appear as tiny nits or eggs attached to individual hair strands. They resemble dandruff, but cannot be easily removed, as they are stuck to the hair shaft. Adult lice can also be seen moving in the head. Lice are commonly seen in the scalp region, which is behind the ears and in the lower areas of the scalp. Lice and its nits are visible to the naked eye. Lice tend to commonly appear in straight and caucasian hair than curly hair. Lice spreads from one person to another from shared hair products, clothing and pillows.

Inflammatory Conditions

Itching in the scalp can be from inflammatory conditions, such as psoriasis. Psoriasis is a chronic and recurring condition which affects around 2% of individuals. Psoriasis is also characterized by silver-gray scaly patches which can appear anywhere on the scalp, but particularly tend to appear along the hairline. Psoriasis is not contagious; however, it can occur in people who have a familial tendency.

Allergic reactions from hair dyes, atopic dermatitis and eczema can also cause itching in the scalp.

Other Causes of Itching in the Scalp

  • Dry skin especially in winter and fall when the air is dry causes itchy scalp. The scalp should be kept moist with the use of conditioner.
  • Insufficient exfoliating of the scalp can also cause itching in the scalp.
  • Insufficient washing of the scalp can also cause itching in the scalp due to buildup of dead skin cells and oil which also results in flaking and discomfort.
  • Any allergic reaction to a product can also cause itching in the scalp, especially if the person has switched hair products.
  • Diet which is low in vitamin B, D, zinc and good fats can also cause dry and itchy scalp.
  • Scalp sunburn, which has started to heal, can also cause itching in the scalp by flaking off during the healing process. Soothing products, such as oil and deep conditioner should be used.

Treatments to Get Rid of Itching in the Scalp

  • Treatment for itching in the scalp caused by Seborrheic Dermatitis is using anti-fungal shampoos, which have ingredients, such as pyrithione zinc, ciclopirox, selenium sulfide and ketoconazole. These shampoos can be found over-the-counter or online. In severe cases, prescription shampoo or a topical steroid should be used to help get rid of itching in scalp.
  • Treatment for itching in the scalp caused due to tinea capitis or ringworm infection is by using an over-the-counter antifungal formulation along with oral anti-fungal medications, such as griseofulvin, itraconazole, as the organism is present deep in the hair follicle. Another thing to follow is stop sharing personal items with others to avoid this infection.
  • Treatment for getting rid of itching in the scalp caused due to head lice comprises of using over-the-counter lice shampoos, lotions and creams, which have insecticides such as permethrin or pyrethrin in them. These products should be used as directed. The nits can also be removed with the help of a fine-tooth comb. The bedding of the affected person can be washed in hot water. Contact with the affected person should be avoided for prevention of lice.
  • Treatment for itching in the scalp caused due to psoriasis comprises of using tar shampoos, salicylic acid shampoos and use of topical steroids. In severe cases of psoriasis oral medication comprising of cyclosporine and methotrexate can be used. Injectable immunobiologics can be used in case of severe psoriasis.
  • Treatment for getting rid of itching in the scalp caused by allergic reaction is to wait as allergic reactions often go away on their own. It is important to identify and avoid the chemical, which is causing the allergic reaction. Specialized tests need to be carried out to identify the chemical which is causing the allergy.

Home Remedies to Get Rid of Itching in the Scalp

Tea Tree Oil

  • Tea tree oil contains natural anti-inflammation, antifungal and antibacterial properties and is a great home remedy to get rid of itching in the scalp.
  • Add about 10 to 20 drops of tea tree oil to a one-half cup of baby shampoo. This shampoo should be used daily on the scalp till itching improves.
  • Add two or three drops of tea tree oil in about one tablespoon of vegetable oil. Massage this mixture into your scalp regularly to get rid of itching in the scalp.

Lemon Juice

  • Lemon juice has antiseptic properties and can be an effective home remedy to get relief from itchy and dry scalp, especially itching caused from dandruff.
  • Fresh lemon juice can be applied to the scalp and left for a few minutes followed by shampooing of the hair.
  • Lemon juice can also be mixed with yogurt and massaged into the scalp for a few minutes followed by washing the hair with a mild shampoo.

Lemon Juice to Get Rid of Itching in Scalp

Apple Cider Vinegar

  • Apple cider vinegar contains anti-inflammatory properties which help in killing the virus and yeast, which cause itching in the scalp. Apple cider vinegar also helps in balancing the pH levels of the scalp which in turn helps in relieving the dryness and itching of the scalp. Apple cider vinegar works great as a home remedy to get rid of itching in scalp.
  • Mix equal amounts of water and apple cider vinegar and pour this mixture into a spray bottle. This mixture can be applied directly onto the scalp or can be sprayed on to the scalp. Leave it for a few minutes and shampoo with normal water. This should be done for once or twice a week.

Baking Soda

  • Baking soda can be a useful home remedy in relieving the itching in the scalp by exfoliating the scalp and controlling the dandruff.
  • Mix some baking soda with water and apply it directly onto the scalp. Some olive oil can also be massaged into the scalp before applying the paste of baking soda. Leave it for about 10-15 minutes then wash well with water.

Coconut Oil

  • Coconut oil can also be an effective home remedy to stop itching in the scalp as it helps in creating a barrier, which keeps the moisture locked in the skin and also aids in getting rid of itching in the scalp.
  • The scalp should be massaged with a little coconut oil and kept overnight. Wash your scalp the next day using a perfume-free shampoo.
  • Another method is to add some coconut oil to your shampoo before washing your hair.

Aloe Vera

  • Aloe vera gel has moisturizing properties, which helps in relieving dryness and itching of the scalp.
  • Apply some aloe vera gel onto the scalp and leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes and then wash your hair using a mild shampoo.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:


Last Modified On: September 16, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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