What Are the Reasons for an Itchy Scalp?
06 / 27 / 22

What Are the Reasons for an Itchy Scalp?

An itchy scalp is a common issue experienced by many men and women. The condition may have a variety of causes and can be frustrating, causing frequent scratching and discomfort. Sometimes, in addition to making you feel itchy and uncomfortable, a scalp condition will produce visible symptoms, such as scabbing or flaking skin.

While an itchy scalp is usually not a sign of a severe illness or condition, it can be challenging to think about anything else when your scalp itches. Getting rid of your itchy scalp starts with determining the cause. There are several reasons for an itchy scalp, but most conditions can be treated and prevented.

Common Reasons for an Itchy Scalp

Dandruff and Seborrheic Dermatitis

The most common reason for an itchy scalp is seborrheic dermatitis, more commonly known as dandruff. If you are experiencing an itchy scalp and noticing flakes on your hair or clothing, you may have dandruff.

Dandruff typically occurs when the sebaceous, or oil-secreting glands, on your scalp produce excess oil, and there is an overgrowth of yeast, called Malassezia, that's already on your skin. The excess oil causes skin cells to build up and then shed. If the glands become inflamed, in addition to flaking, you may experience itching, redness, or yellow or white scales.

For mild cases of dandruff, and over the counter shampoo containing selenium or zinc pyrithione is usually effective. However, you may need a prescription-strength shampoo, cream, ointment, or other medicated solution for more severe cases.

Reaction to a Hair Care Product

Your hair products can also cause a dry, itchy, flaky scalp. Shampoo is a mild detergent with various chemicals, and compounds added. Other hair products such as dry shampoos, hair spray, and gels can cause a build-up. A build-up of hair products or simply not thoroughly rinsing the shampoo from your hair can irritate your scalp.

While most hair products contain ingredients that are generally safe, some people develop a condition called contact dermatitis.

Contact dermatitis is when your skin becomes irritated when a specific product or chemical touches your skin, causing an allergic reaction. An itchy rash is a common sign of contact dermatitis, and if you have an allergy to a particular compound used in a hair product, the condition will persist until you stop its use.

Tinea Capitis

Tinea capitis is a fungal infection that causes a rash on the scalp. More commonly known as ringworm because of its circular appearance, the condition typically produces itchy, scaly, bald patches on the scalp. Ringworm of the scalp extends deep into the hair follicles and causes round patches of hair loss that increase in size over time.

Since tinea capitis exists deep within the hair follicle, you can't effectively treat it with over-the-counter anti-fungal products. Instead, treating the condition requires a visit to a health care professional. To effectively treat scalp ringworm, you need an accurate diagnosis and treatment with prescription anti-fungal medications.

Other Possible Reasons for an Itchy Scalp

An itchy scalp may be due to a sensitive scalp but can also indicate an underlying medical condition. Some medical conditions can cause an itchy scalp, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Shingles
  • Allergic reactions to medications
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Scalp psoriasis
  • Head lice

The Hair and Scalp Experts at New Image Hair Clinic Can Help

Dealing with an itchy scalp can be frustrating. When the condition persists, the discomfort increases, as well as the possible damage to your hair follicles.

Some conditions won't go away without treatment, and you should consult a professional if you experience itchiness that doesn't go away in a few days or is accompanied by hair loss, pain, or sores.

At New Image Hair Clinic, we have a team of scalp and hair experts who can help you determine why your scalp is itchy and suggest effective solutions. Contact us today and schedule your FREE initial consultation to learn what you can do to find relief from your itchy scalp.