Itchy Scalp? Top 8 Common Causes For An Itchy Scalp

It can be very very disturbing having an itchy scalp. Get to know 8 of the common causes of an itchy scalp so you can pursue the right treatment.

By Emmanuel Onitayo
Itchy Scalp? Top 8 Common Causes For An Itchy Scalp

Itchy Scalp: A Symptom And Not A Condition

Everyone has had to scratch their scalp at one time or the other and it is not in all these scenarios that there is something to be worried about. It's normal to scratch your skin or scalp once in a while. However, there comes a time when you feel like hiring more hands or getting a rake to scratch your scalp; at that time, something is really going on and you need to take a concrete step. Itchiness itself isn't a condition but a symptom. A number of skin conditions can present it as part of their symptoms. As such, we shall be examining 8 prominent causes of an itchy scalp with a view to helping you determine what the cause of yours might be. Here are they.

Itchy Scalp Causes #1: Allergy

We all like to take care of our hairs because, among other reasons, its appearance says a lot about our overall beauty. Women and girls particularly cherish their hairs on the average more than most men and boys. But do you know that some of the products, medications, and methods used in your hair treatment can spring up allergic reactions? Yes, it can. Perhaps we should talk about some of the hair treatment options that are common today to help you see how and why they can be the cause of your itchy scalp. Dyeing is one of them. The beauty that a beautifully dyed hair can bring to anyone's hair can hardly be overstated. But then, because several chemicals were put together to arrive at the dye, your scalp might be saying No to some of them. It doesn't matter if you have been coloring your hair with it before. Your scalp may have reached a level where it can no longer tolerate it anymore hence, the itching. Again, your scalp might be reacting to the shampoo you use in washing your hair. In fact, it can be the cream. We react to different things in different ways; as such, the fact that a friend uses a particular hair cream, color, or shampoo and nothing happens to them does not mean that our own scalp would also tolerate it. Where there is intolerance or rejection of a particular product by your scalp, itching (and even rashes) can be a symptom to be witnessed. One way to identify this cause of scalp itchiness is to use each hair product separately and watch the effect each has on you so you can identify which one is actually responsible for the itchiness. And one you can pick it out, the only treatment is for you to avoid it.

Itchy Scalp Causes #2: Dandruff

As you ponder on the possible causes of your itchy scalp, dandruff is among the conditions you don't want to overlook. It is a skin condition peculiar to the scalp and can affect both male and female. The exact cause of dandruff is unknown but it is believed to arise as a result of an overgrowth of a fungus that is a normal flora of the scalp. The condition has been shown to be genetic in some people while it becomes aggravated during certain weather conditions, particularly in the winter. As earlier established, itching is one of its primary symptoms but another symptom is flaking. The flakes are somehow whitish in appearance and they fall on your clothing or room when you scratch your scalp. Also, if it is dandruff, you would notice patches on your scalp which can be reddish in color. If you have figured out dandruff to be the reason your scalp itches, you may want to consider using any of the anti-fungal medications available on sale over the counter to combat it. Such anti-fungal treatments include selenium disulfide, ketoconazole, and zinc pyrithione. There are shampoos too specifically made to address this condition. Dandruff is never a result of poor hygiene as you may be thinking. As such, washing your hair daily may not provide the needed relief from your itchy scalp. It has been posited by many researchers that as much as 40 percent adolescents have suffered dandruff at one point or the other. However, many of them get over this condition by just opting for one of the over-the-counter medications as dandruff is not considered a skin condition to be terrified about.

Itchy Scalp Causes #3: Eczema (Psoriasis)

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Eczema is common with children but adults aren't completely immune from the condition too. It is a skin condition that causes your scalp to swell and become red and flaky. Like dandruff, there is no proven cause of psoriasis yet although there are indications that the skin condition can be hereditary. It is an autoimmune response in which your body's immune apparatuses treat itself as a non-self leading to a scaly and patchy scalp. The difference between eczema and dandruff is that the flakes resulting from eczema are usually thicker and in terms of color are usually deeper. However, like dandruff, you can get one of the over-the-counter medications or shampoos containing salicylic acid, coal tar, and an excimer laser to put an end to it. It is not difficult to identify either dandruff or psoriasis because of the resulting inflammation, flakes, and patches on the scalp. For these two skin conditions, a good shampoo should address the itchy scalp but where itchiness persists, you need to see a doctor. Perhaps dandruff or eczema has gotten to an advanced stage.

Itchy Scalp Causes #4: Tinea Capitis (Ringworm)

Another reason your scalp may become itchy is a common scalp infection known as ringworm. Ringworm occurs when the fungus goes deep into the scalp to affect the hair follicles thereby resulting in some degree of hair loss. You can pick out ringworm as the reason for your itchy scalp because it would look like a rash that is raised with an appearance of some dark dots on the rashes. The fungus responsible for ringworm is typically a normal flora of the scalp. It feeds on the dead cells there without causing any harm except where there is a cut or injury to the scalp. Only through an opening can the fungus gain entrance into the scalp and cause the damage described earlier. Similarly, the risk of having ringworm on your scalp becomes higher if you don't practice good hygiene; namely, you don't wash your hair often. It should also be noted that ringworm can be contracted from an infected person or animals majorly by using the combs, hats, or brushes used by these ones. Therefore, it's always good to avoid borrowing these personal items as much as possible. Treatment involves using some anti-fungus medications although you may want to consult a dermatologist on this one to get the correct prescription if the itching persisted. Otherwise, the treatment for dandruff and eczema can go a long way too in helping your itchy scalp.

Itchy Scalp Causes #5: Head Lice

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Head lice are among those things you don't want to overlook too when investigating why your scalp itches. These creatures can be little but the annoyances they cause can be very great. They invade children's hair majorly but can also take over the scalp of adults too and they are among the prime causes of itchy scalps. When infested with head lice for the first time, your scalp may not develop the symptom until after 6 weeks because a cycle is observed to establish the lice on your hair and scalp. The lice lay eggs known as nits on your scalp which in turn attach to your individual hair shaft. This attachment is strong such that an ordinary washing or firm hold of the hair isn't sufficient to shake them off. These eggs eventually hatch leading to a larger invasion of the scalp, the result of which is itching. Identifying lice as the cause of your itchy scalp is pretty easy; you can feel that something is moving on your scalp even though you may not be able to spot it. As such, one of the treatment options is to employ physical removal method. If you are a man, you can consider shaving your entire hair to expose your scalp so the lice can be gotten rid off completely. However, for a female, getting rid of your hair completely may not be an option you want to consider and as such, you can opt for shampoos that remove lice or go for a potent insecticide such as permethrin or pyrethrin to wipe off the lice. Your choice of insecticide would, however, depend on the resistant pattern of lice to the medication as some lice have become resistant to many insecticides.

Itchy Scalp Causes #6: Extremely Tight Ponytail

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Wearing a ponytail that is too tight can bring about an itchy scalp as well as systemic hair loss. That's because it places a pressure on your scalp muscles and in some cases, lead to scarring. Hairstyles such as buns, weaves, braids, and extensions are particularly more susceptible to this itching effect because they stretch the scalp in a manner unoriginal to its orientation. By the time you let your hair down, you may discover you've done your scalp some damage due to the over-stretching of the nerves. You don't need any medication for this if you discover your scalp itches because of your hairstyle; simple settle for the looser styles that place less pressure on your scalp muscles and nerves. And if you must go for the tight pony, endeavor not to stay on it for long. The itching effect becomes negligible when you vary your hairstyle often.

Itchy Scalp Causes #7: Dry Scalp

Your scalp has some nourishing oil or sebum that lubricates it. This oily release equally serves as a form of protection to the scalp by suffocating pathogenic microorganisms. Besides that, the oil keeps your scalp and hair cool. For some reasons, however, your scalp may become dry. And when that happens, you are bound to experience itchiness. Among the probable reason for a dry scalp is the prevailing weather at a time. Usually, during winter, the hair outside becomes very cold and dry and the one inside is equally dry too howbeit hot. So, this weather can strip your scalp of its natural lubrication and cause you to become easily susceptible to certain infections. You can know when your scalp has become too dry and that makes the treatment pretty easy. The good thing to do when you discover this is to get a trusted hair moisturizer and apply liberally and regularly to your scalp. You may even want to opt for some home remedies such as coconut oil and the tea tree oil reputed for not only moisturizing your hair and scalp but also fighting infections. It would also be helpful if you don't leave your head uncovered during this harsh weather condition.

Itchy Scalp Causes #8: Dirt And Sweat

It is not impossible that your itchy scalp is as a result of the accumulation of dirt and sebum on it for a while. It's not only on the scalp that you can experience itchiness if you fail to wash often; the symptom can be experienced in any other part of your skin. As it is, skin cells (including those of the scalp) die and are constantly being replaced by new ones. So, unless you keep washing your hair and scalp, there'll be a huge accumulation of these dead skin cells and dirt. The dirt can even become great if you love applying several products to your hair. These residues are a great recipe for an itchy scalp. While it may not be too good to wash your hair every now and then because hair and scalp dryness, it is altogether bad too to neglect washing it regularly. The skin on your head which is called the scalp is no different from that on your face. So, just as you cannot leave your face unwashed for days, so also must you not leave your scalp unwashed for too long especially to avert itchiness. You may even be washing your scalp regularly but not in the right way. A good way is to use a method that would allow you to scrub your scalp and allow lather to form before you rinse off. This is how to eliminate the sebum. Also, when you go for an exercise and you sweat, you have to wash off the sweat from your scalp. If allowed to stay and dry there, the sweat can cause an irritation to your scalp thereby leading to itchiness.

Precautions To Avoid Having An Itchy Scalp

1. Be sure of the compatibility of a product you are applying to your hair before doing so to avoid allergic reactions. 2. Get your own brush, combs, hats, and other things used on the head to avoid introducing infection from other people into your scalp. 3. Consider wearing a hair mask occasionally to keep your hair and scalp in shape. You may want to try out avocado, banana, or honey hair mask. 4. Don't allow your scalp to become too dry before moisturizing it. A dry scalp can lead to anything including rashes and itchiness. 5. Wash your hair every other day. The accumulation of sweat, sebum, and dead scalp cells is one reason your scalp can itch. 6. Be mindful of the kind of food you eat. Certain foods such as sugar-rich foods, soy, gluten, alcohol, and even dairy products should be consumed moderately. That's because these food items when present too much in your body aid the growth of fungi that can cause your scalp to swell and itch. 7. Exercise regularly. Your risk of coming down with an itchy scalp reduces with a daily moderate exercise. 8. Don't take things for granted. If you notice rashes on your scalp or any other symptoms that suggest a serious skin infection, act fast and see a doctor as soon as possible.

Itchy Scalp - Conclusion

An itchy scalp is definitely not a thing to be desired; it can seriously be annoying and disturbing. But it is avoidable at least to a very high degree. With simple hygiene like cleaning off your scalp when you exercise and sweat, you can say bye to an itchy scalp. Again, like we have earlier mentioned, having a momentous itching on your scalp is absolutely normal and it doesn't mean your hair is unkempt. However, where you have to seek help is when you notice an intense itching with inflammation, rashes, patches, and flakes. No doubts, these are signs of infections by various causative agents. Although there are over-the-counter medications to address many of them, if you notice the medications aren't working as expected, you need to see a doctor swiftly. A correct treatment of your itchy scalp would, of course, demands that you identify the cause and that is what we have done in this article. We hope you found it helpful.

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