Comfortable and Healthy Scalp

Say goodbye to the discomfort of an itchy scalp and hello to revitalized, healthy hair. If you’ve ever experienced the frustration of persistent scalp itchiness, you’re not alone. Many factors can contribute to this common issue, from dry skin to underlying conditions. Check out our advice below in this great article — and if you need a consultation with our salon stylists, we are always here. 

An itchy scalp is a common and uncomfortable symptom that can be caused by a number of conditions, including dandruff, head lice, and ringworm. The level of itchiness can range from mild to intense, causing minor-to-moderate discomfort or intense itching.

Fortunately, an itchy scalp can be effectively treated. Depending on the cause, itchy scalp can be treated with over-the-counter solutions or prescription medication. A healthcare professional, such as a dermatologist (a doctor who specializes in conditions that affect the hair, skin, and nails), can diagnose the cause and identify the best treatment.

Itchy Scalp Causes 

The reasons why your scalp might be itching vary greatly. From skin conditions to parasites, here are some potential causes of itchy scalp.

Infrequent Hair Washing

As you go about your day, sebum accumulates on your scalp. Sebum is an oily substance that prevents your skin from drying out. When you wash your hair, sebum and other debris are washed away. Not washing your hair enough can cause sebum to accumulate, and it’s believed that sebum accumulation and itchy scalp are associated.

Research has shown that scalp itchiness can get significantly more severe three days after shampooing for populations with oily hair. Higher frequency shampooing is associated with less itchiness.

Reaction to a Hair Product

Your scalp might get itchy if you aren’t rinsing out your shampoo well enough. Leftover shampoo can irritate your scalp.

If you develop a rash alongside your itchy scalp, you might be allergic to one of your hair products, such as your shampoo, conditioner, or hair dye. Such a reaction would be known as allergic contact dermatitis, which is an itchy rash brought on by exposure to a substance to which you are allergic.


Dandruff is a common condition that causes small, flaky pieces of skin to fall off your scalp. These yellow or white flakes flakes can bring on itching.45 The flaking may be oily or dry, and people with dandruff may notice visible flakes on their hair or clothing.

Sometimes dandruff can be caused by an underlying medical condition like eczema. It’s still unclear why people without any such health condition develop dandruff, but certain factors, like not washing your hair often enough, can exacerbate dandruff.

Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis is a common skin condition that causes a scaly rash. The condition can affect any oily part of your body, including your scalp.

The white or yellow scales can be dry or oily and are itchy. The itching can get worse if the area becomes infected. Because seborrheic dermatitis is an inflammatory condition, you can develop a rash as well. The rash can cause swelling and discoloration. If you have darker skin, the rash may look pink, purple, or lighter than the surrounding skin. If you have lighter skin, the rash will look red and raised.

Head Lice 

Head lice are tiny insects that can invade and live on your scalp.8 You may see adult lice on the scalp or hair. They are about the size of a sesame seed and are light brown in color. Since they move, they are harder to find than the parasites’ eggs (also called nits). Nits are yellow, brown, or tan and are stuck on the hair.

Head lice spreads easily and is especially common among children 3-11 years old. The main symptom is intense itchiness of the scalp. The itching is actually an allergic reaction to the insect bites.

Scalp Psoriasis 

Plaque psoriasis is an autoimmune inflammatory skin disorder that causes silvery-white scales and thick reddish patches, called plaques, on the skin.11 About 50% of people with plaque psoriasis experience it on their scalp at some point.

The plaques may extend beyond the scalp to the back of the neck or behind the ears. The intensity of itching can range from mild to severe.

Nerve Problem

After nerve-related damage or disease, your nerves can change in ways that make you experience abnormal sensations. When the nerves that affect your scalp are impacted, the abnormal sensation may come in the form of itch.

A healthcare provider may refer to the nerve change as neuropathy. Deep scarring from hair loss has the potential to damage nerves and cause an itchy scalp.1 Diabetes, brow lifts, and burn-related scars can also cause neuropathy and, in turn, itching of the scalp.

Some neurological conditions, like stroke and tumors, can also cause an itchy scalp.

Scalp Ringworm 

Scalp ringworm is a fungal infection that causes a scaly, red, round bald spot on the scalp. The circular patch can be intensely itchy. And if the infection spreads, the bald spot can grow or other bald spots might form. Children are more likely than adults to have ringworm on their scalp.


Caused by microscopic bugs called mites that burrow into the skin, scabies is an intensely itchy condition. The itching can become so intense that it can be difficult to sleep at night. Another symptom of scabies is a rash of small red bumps. When scabies affects the scalp, it is most often in infants and very young children. Older children and adults don’t usually get scabies on their head but it can occur above the neck in some cases.

Itching from scabies is a symptom of an allergic reaction to the mites and their feces.

How to Get Your Scalp to Stop Itching

Itchy scalps can be mildly uncomfortable to extremely itchy. No matter the intensity, relief is possible with the right treatment. How you treat your itchy scalp depends on what’s causing the itching.

A healthcare provider like a dermatologist can help you determine what’s causing your itchy scalp. If the itching is due to infrequent hair washing, they may recommend washing your hair more often. If they suspect a hair product might be causing irritation or an allergic reaction, they will have you stop using the product and see if the itching subsides.

Other causes of itchy scalp might need over-the-counter or prescription treatment.


A dandruff shampoo is the best way to control dandruff. Some shampoos require that you leave the shampoo on your head for a short time; others instruct you to rinse right away. Read the product’s directions so you know how to use it.

Typically, you would use dandruff shampoo once or twice a week. If the shampoo doesn’t seem to be working, try a shampoo with different active ingredients.

Seborrheic Dermatitis

Dandruff shampoo is also used to treat seborrheic dermatitis. Your healthcare provider might also recommend using several types of dandruff shampoos and switching between them.

You may need a prescription shampoo if your condition is moderate or severe. If your condition is severe, they may also prescribe a topical corticosteroid that you can apply in the short term to help calm symptoms like itching and inflammation.

Head Lice 

There are several over-the-counter lotions and shampoos you can buy at the drugstore to get rid of lice and nits. Instructions must be followed properly. Using the comb that comes in the package rather than your own comb can improve the effectiveness of treatment since the lice comb’s teeth are closer together and so can better brush out lice and nits.

Lice treatment requires daily attention for about two weeks. In that time, you will likely complete two lotion or shampoo treatments as well as daily brushing with the lice comb.

If an at-home treatment is not effective, you can ask a healthcare provider about a stronger treatment. They can recommend additional products that you can buy without a prescription or prescribe a medication.

While not a treatment everyone might want to do, shaving your head bald is another option.

Scalp Psoriasis

A medicated shampoo or lotion—whether prescribed or bought over-the-counter—might help relieve psoriasis-related itching. Other treatment performed by a healthcare provider may be needed, including scale softeners, injections, and light treatments.

Nerve Problem

There have been some reports of low-dose antidepressants having been used to manage sensations on the scalp, like itch, that are unrelated to a skin condition. Some research has suggested that neuropathic pain medications and physical therapy can help relieve scalp itch believed to be associated with cervical spine disease. A healthcare provider can determine what condition may be causing your itchy scalp and try to address that underlying condition.

Scalp Ringworm 

You will need prescription antifungal medication to treat ringworm on the scalp. These medications are usually taken by mouth for one to three months. Creams, lotions, or powder that you may use to treat ringworm on other parts of the body are not effective for treating ringworm on the scalp. An example of oral medication used to treat ringworm is Diflucan (fluconazole).


When infants or young children have scabies, you can apply a prescription medication to their scalp (and the rest of their body) to kill the mites. The lotion or cream, known as a scabicide, will come with instructions that you should follow closely.

Because the itching is from an allergic reaction, your child may continue to be itchy for two to four weeks after the treatment has killed all of the mites. If your child is still itchy after that time, you may need to retreat.

How to Prevent an Itchy Scalp

Some causes of itchy scalp, such as nerve damage, can’t be prevented. Other causes of itchy scalp can be prevented. For instance, dandruff shampoos can help you control dandruff. Reducing your stress levels and getting enough sleep may reduce symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis.

When it comes to preventing an itchy scalp due to lice, you should take steps to avoid getting lice in the first place. These preventative measures include:

  • Avoiding hair-to-hair contact
  • Not sharing clothing, hair accessories, combs, brushes, or towels
  • Not lying on fabric, like pillows or stuffed animals, that someone with lice has used
  • Vacuuming the floor and furniture when you know someone has lice

Preventing ringworm and scabies of the scalp also involves avoiding direct contact with someone with the conditions or avoiding situations that can promote the conditions’ spread. This includes washing linens and not sharing haircare products.

When to See Healthcare Provider

It is recommended to speak with a healthcare provider if you are experiencing the following:

  • The itching is severe, keeping you awake at night or affecting your ability to function during the day
  • The itching does not go away after a few weeks or it does not have a recognizable cause
  • Over-the-counter dandruff shampoos are not effective
  • Lice are just as active eight to 12 hours after your first treatment
  • Itchy areas of the scalp are swollen or sore

Feel confident and comfortable with amazing hair at Sofia Loren. Discover a world of stunning styles, vibrant colors, and personalized care. Book your appointment today at 561.405.1884 and have the BEST hair experts in Boca Raton. For exclusive content and giveaways — and beautiful hair — follow us on Instagram @SofiaLorenSalon!

Reference: []