An itchy scalp, or scalp pruritus, is a common problem that can cause frustrating symptoms, such as frequent scratching and discomfort. Although an itchy scalp doesn’t typically indicate anything severe many times, it can be a symptom of an underlying condition.
Here are 10 reasons for an itchy scalp along with dermatologists’ advice on what can bring relief.
If your scalp is dry and itchy and you see flakes on your hair or clothing, you may have dandruff.
How to get relief: If you have dandruff, using a dandruff shampoo and scalp treatments can help.
Reaction to a hair care product.
An itchy, dry, and flaky scalp could be a result of not rinsing the shampoo from your hair completely. Leaving some shampoo on your scalp can irritate it.
If you have an itchy scalp and a rash, you may have a condition called allergic contact dermatitis. This is common among people who dye their hair. Often the culprit is an ingredient in the dye called para-phenylenediamine (PPD), which is found in black hair dyes.
You could also have an allergy to shampoo, conditioner, or other product that touches your scalp. If that’s the case, you’ll likely have an itchy rash on your scalp and any other skin that the product touches.
How to get relief: To stop the itch, you must stop using the product that’s causing the reaction. If you’re having a hard time finding it, a board-certified dermatologist can help.
These are red, raised, and very itchy bumps that can form anywhere on the skin, including the scalp. Hives tend to come and go within a few hours. Sometimes, hives go away and come back. If hives come and go for longer than 6 weeks, they’re called chronic (long-lasting) hives.
How to get relief: Hives often go away on their own, but if they’re long-lasting, treatment can help. Dermatologists frequently treat hives.
An itchy scalp is the most common symptom of head lice. If you suspect that head lice are causing the itch, ask someone to closely examine your scalp and hair for signs of these tiny bugs.
How to get relief: To get rid of the itch, you need to get rid of the lice. You can find out how to check for head lice and treat them at home by going to, Head lice: Diagnosis and treatment.
Scabies on the scalp can cause intense itching and a rash of little bumps that look like the ones on this baby’s face.
How to get relief: To make sure that you have scabies, you should see your primary care doctor or a board-certified dermatologist. If you have scabies, you will need treatment, which is only available with a doctor’s prescription.
Ringworm isn’t caused by worms. It’s an infection caused by a fungus. If you get ringworm on your scalp, you’ll likely have a red and intensely itchy rash.
How to get relief: To get relief, you need an accurate diagnosis and treatment for ringworm.
Treating ringworm on the scalp requires prescription medication, so you’ll need to see a doctor. Dermatologists often treat ringworm, so it can be helpful to see a board-certified dermatologist.
About 50% of the people who have plaque psoriasis experience a flare-up on the scalp at some point. On the scalp, you may have reddish patches, dandruff-like flaking, a silvery-white scale, and a dry scalp. Scalp psoriasis is often itchy, with the itch ranging from mild to intense.
How to get relief: There are many treatments for scalp psoriasis. Some people get relief from a medicated shampoo or other treatment that you can buy without a prescription.
If you have a type of eczema known as atopic dermatitis (AD), it can develop on your scalp. When this happens, you can have redness and scale on your scalp. Some people say their scalp burns, and the scalp is often itchy.
How to get relief: Treating the AD can bring relief. Because the skin on your scalp differs from the skin elsewhere on your body, it’s best to see a board-certified dermatologist for a treatment plan.
An intensely itchy scalp without signs of a rash or another skin reaction can be a sign of a nerve problem. Your doctor may say you have neuropathy (neu-rop-ah-thie), a medical word for a problem along a nerve due to damage, disease, or an abnormality in the way the nerve works. Diseases that can affect your nerves include shingles and diabetes.
Scarring can damage nerves. If you have hair loss that has caused scars that run deep, the scars may have damaged your nerves. This damage can cause your scalp to itch.
How to get relief: A board-certified dermatologist can get to the root of the problem.
If skin cancer develops on your scalp, it may itch.
How to get relief: Consult a board-certified dermatologist. These doctors have expertise in diagnosing skin cancer and can tell you whether you need to be tested for skin cancer.
For more: https://www.aad.org/