Top 15 Causes Of Dry & Itchy Scalp Everyone Should Know About

A dry and itchy scalp is the least of skin problems that you want to have. It can lead to hair loss and tarnish your overall beauty. Here are the causes.

By Emmanuel Onitayo
Top 15 Causes Of Dry & Itchy Scalp Everyone Should Know About

Understanding What A Dry Scalp Is

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Dandruff, and a dry and itchy scalp are almost the same in appearance, but slightly different. Yes, the symptoms both present are mainly the same, but there are a few minor differences in their manifestation. If dandruff is what you have, you would discover that your scalp is becoming red and some large flakes keep falling off. You would also notice that your scalp is mostly oily and that is among the greatest causes of it. A dry scalp, however, is just what its name says. Your scalp is dry, itchy and in severe cases, you start experiencing hair loss. Also, flakes start falling off although not as big as you would find in the case of dandruff. As you think about the causes of this skin problem, the least you want to think of is poor hygiene. That means you aren't having a dry and itchy scalp because you are necessarily dirty or unkempt. Since dandruff and a dry and itchy scalp share so many things in common, the two would be treated as the same in this piece. They both have similar causes too. The only difference between dandruff and skin scalp is that while dandruff presents an oily scalp, a dry scalp is dry as the name suggests. Usually, the remedies for these two skin condition are similar too.

The Causes Of A Dry And Itchy Scalp

Unless the causes of this skin condition are known, as with most disease conditions, the cure may not be easy to fathom out. If this is coming as a bad news to you, we urge you to take heart; dandruff and an itchy scrap have no cure. That's because their exact cause is yet unknown. Notwithstanding, there are factors that trigger an itchy scalp which we are going to discuss briefly soon. And though there is no permanent cure for it, there are remedies to tackle the symptoms. The factors that trigger a dry and itchy scalp would be discussed under the following subtitles namely genetic, environmental, microbial, and behavioral. Here are they.

Environmental Causes Of Dry And Itchy Scalp

1. The Season Of The Year

The shred family

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The main environmental factor that often triggers off a dry and itchy scalp is the season of the year. During the winter period, for instance, the weather is usually cold and dry. This is known as harmattan in some places. This weather makes the moisture content of your scalp drop because the air is not only cold but dry. During this period too, apart from your scalp getting dry, even your nostril and throat too can become dry. So, if you notice that your scalp itches more during the winter, a simple treatment would be to get a shampoo usually over the counter and gently massage your scalp with it. Remember to be gentle while massaging your scalp so you don't have artificial hair loss.

2. Stress

There seems to be an association between stress, hair loss, and an itchy scalp. Usually, when you work so hard or you are in a stressful condition, the itching may become more pronounced. As it is, stress has no treatment; it can only be managed. The management would depend largely on how you respond to issues within and outside of you. Understanding yourself can also help so you can avoid things that stress you out.

3. Diet

There is no part of your body that the type of food you eat does not have an impact on; that, of course, includes your scalp. Poor diet may be among the causes of your dry and itchy scalp. Typically, when your food lacks in some nutrients such as vitamin B, protein, and fatty acids, your chances of coming down with dandruff or a dry, itchy scalp is high. Also, high consumption of food items such as sugars, alcohol, salts, and even spices can add to the reason your scalp itches. As a rule, always endeavor to eat a balanced diet. Practice temperance too.

4. Allergy

If you are in the habit of using a hair treatment cream which you have not checked with your physician to be sure is okay with you, you can be an easy prey to dandruff and a dry itchy scalp. Not all shampoos are good for everyone and even the somewhat universal ones have an appropriate frequency of usage. If you abuse a shampoo or cream, your scalp might be irritated and the result can be an itchy scalp.

Genetic Causes Of A Dry And Itchy Scalp

5. Heredity

There are pieces of evidence suggesting that this skin condition may be hereditary. Although some reports say that half of the adults suffer a dry and itchy scalp, recent trends suggest that the condition may be coded for in the gene. That means that if any of your parents complain of dandruff or dry, itchy scalp, you stand a high chance of developing it. Recall that we have earlier established the fact that there are environmental factors that can also trigger it too. There are usually no remedies for a condition that is hereditary. However, for an itchy scalp, you can go to any pharmacy shop to purchase a shampoo to wash and massage your scalp regularly. That would help reduce the dryness and itching.

6. Sebaceous Secretions

Prime among the causes of dandruff is excessive oil on the scalp. You may not be the one applying that excess oil to your hair or scalp; it may be as a result of a malfunctioning sebaceous gland. Sebaceous glands are located beneath the skin and are responsible for releasing a grease-like substance called sebum to lubricate our body when the weather is dry and cold. As such, even when you forget to cream yourself for days, your body still doesn't get dry. However, due to a genetic reason, the gland responsible for releasing this oily substance may either be over or under-doing it. And when it is releasing too much of oil, what you have is dandruff. Also, where it doesn't supply enough, your scalp and other parts of your body may become itchy. Remedies can range from washing your hair regularly with shampoo when you notice excessive oil to moisturizing your scalp when dryness is noticed.

Microbial Causes Of A Dry And Itchy Scalp

7. Bacteria

Certain bacteria, especially Staphylococcus and Propionibacteria, have been identified in the scalps of individuals suffering from dandruff as well as dry, itchy scalp. This suggests that they may be responsible in a way for the condition. Usually, these bacteria are not part of the normal flora of the scalp. Their presence in a person's scalp may have been accidental. And bacteria generally are aided in a moist area as well as where there abundant sebum.

8. Fungus Overgrowth

Malassezia furfur is the fungus earlier found culpable for causing dandruff and flaking. Normally, this fungus family should be normally be found on the hair and scalp. However, where an itching or dandruff would take place, their presence is dangerously doubled. Their increased presence eventually cause the metabolism of the triglycerides present in the oil/sebum on your scalp to produce a substance known as oleic acid. It is when this oleic acid penetrates the scalp that inflammation, redness, and/or itching takes place. Treatment would involve the use of an anti-fungus cream or shampoos especially one that has selenium sulfide, ketoconazole, salicylic acid, and zinc pyrithione as part of its ingredients.

Behavioral Causes Of A Dry And Itchy Scalp

9. Not Washing Your Hair Enough

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We have earlier stressed the fact that dirt in itself is not the cause of dandruff or a dry scalp. However, if you leave your scalp or hair unwashed for a very long time, that can result in the accumulation of sebum. Too much of sebum would surely invite bacteria which may eventually be responsible for the itching you are experiencing. A way out is to keep a proper hygiene of your hair and scalp. Ensure that you wash it at least every other day.

10. The Use Of Contaminated Equipment On Hair

Whether you are a man or woman, a time comes when you have to visit the salon or barber's shop. Well, you might even have found a way of taking care of your hair by yourself. Whichever way, the truth is that the "sanity" or otherwise of the equipment used on you can lead to an itchy or swollen scalp. If the equipment is not properly sterilized, it may cross-contaminate the normal flora of your scalp resulting in severe itching.

Other Causes

11. Old Age

As most adults are the one that often experiences dandruff and an itchy scalp, the connection between the condition and age cannot be totally divorced. If you are in your 40s or 50s, you are more predisposed to flaking and itching of your scalp than an adolescent. In fact, it is possible that the sebum secretion at your age may not be sufficient to keep your scalp moist; hence, the dryness. Treatment, in this case, would only require that you get a mild shampoo to wash your hair regularly to moisturize it.

12. Puberty

As males and females reach puberty, a lot of changes take place in their body systems. Series of hormones assume different roles some of which can result in some undesirable conditions such as a dry and itchy scalp. Already, there is an established association between testosterone, the hormone that is responsible for the development of the male sexual features, and hair loss (baldness). Although not yet formally established, there are strong indications that some hormones which assume work at puberty might be contributing in a way to dandruff and itchy scalp.

13. Eczema

Eczema is a skin condition that is prevalent among children and babies although adults too can have it. Its presence on the scalp too can cause itching and flaking.

14. Scalp Psoriasis

Scalp psoriasis is an immune-mediated condition that causes several skin cells to be formed in various parts of the body. That, of course, does not exclude your scalp. So, if you are undergoing this, you have a high chance of experiencing dandruff and flaking. However, it should be emphasized that Scalp psoriasis isn't dandruff.

15. Disease Infection

A dry, itchy and flaking scalp may actually be a sign of some diseases such as Parkinson disease and HIV. As such, you may need to rule out such options by going for a test.

Final Remarks

Dandruff and an itchy scalp can pose a cosmetic challenge to their victims. It is capable of robbing you of your self-esteem. You may not need to see a doctor for treatment as there a number of effective shampoos and creams which can help you address it. However, if it seems that your effort is not paying off, you may have to consult a dermatologist. Perhaps, it is more than dandruff.