One in every four people in the U.S. suffers long-term with an itchy scalp. It's annoying, uncomfortable, and downright distracting - especially if you're scratching at your head all day long.
To get rid of this condition fast, you first need to understand what could be causing it.
In this article, we explain what makes your scalp itch in the first place and then we show you how to treat itchy scalp for good.
What causes itchy scalp?
- Oily hair
- Dry scalp
- Hair products (shampoos and conditioners)
- Blow drying your hair too often or too intensely
1. Oily Hair
Can oily hair cause an itchy scalp?
If you have oily hair, then chances are you've also got an oily scalp, accompanied by an itching sensation.
This condition is known as seborrheic dermatitis and can be caused by several things:
Hot Weather. Hot weather makes you sweat more. If you let sweat sit on your scalp for too long, it can clog your hair follicles, leading to itching as skin cells start to build up.
As the temperature rises, your body also produces more of its natural oil (sebum) to keep your skin from drying out. This oil can build up and irritate your scalp.
Stress. Stress releases the hormone cortisol into your body, and this makes your skin - including your scalp - produce more oil.
Genetics. Your DNA influences everything from your eye color, height, and shoe size.
And yes, it even controls your body's oil production. That is why some families struggle with oily hair while others don't.
How to get rid of oily hair fast
You can't control the weather (just ask any English person) or your genes but you can control what you put on your scalp and hair.
Don't just grab the first hair product you see - your oily hair needs extra TLC.
Many "off the shelf" shampoos will strip your hair and scalp dry. This leads to your body over-producing sebum in response, worsening the problem.
Instead, use a shampoo and conditioner specifically designed for oily hair. This will alleviate itching while removing excess oil, sweat, and dirt.
Look for products containing lemongrass oil - a natural ingredient shown to reduce dandruff effectively.
2. Dry Scalp
Can dry scalp itch?
Dry skin anywhere on your body gets irritated and will start to itch. And it's no different on your scalp.
How to cure dry scalp
Replace your chemically-laden personal care products with naturally nourishing products and avoid anything containing chemicals or any of the potentially toxic ingredients often found in men's skincare products.
Dry scalp treatment at home
If you're looking for effective dry scalp treatment at home, try one of the following:
Olive Oil. Massage warm olive oil onto your scalp. Let it sit for 15 minutes, then rinse out with warm water. Olive oil will make up for the oil your body is lacking and moisturize your scalp.
Coconut Oil. Lauric acid found in mature coconuts helps your skin absorb the oils effectively. Many natural shampoos and hair care products use coconut oil.
Kakadu Plum. A natural extract packed with antioxidants to repair skin damage.
Peppermint Oil. A soothing oil that has been shown to improve circulation. Improved circulation means increased nutrients to your hair follicles.
Lemongrass Oil. It is clinically proven to reduce dandruff (and therefore itchiness).
White Willow Bark Extract. A natural source of Salicylic acid to break down and remove old skin cells.
- Aloe Vera Leaf Juice. A natural gel commonly used for its health benefits and moisturizing properties.
3. Hair Products
The U.S. is well behind the curve when it comes to regulating hair care products. The FDA has only banned 11 chemicals in the U.S. - compare that to the E.U., which has banned almost 1,400!
This means that your go-to shampoo and conditioner may contain potentially toxic ingredients that - although not banned - you really wouldn't want on your scalp or hair.
Watch out for products containing parabens - a family of chemical preservatives first introduced in the 1950s. They're used to prolong shelf life in many grooming products by preventing mold and bacteria growth within them.
Parabens can sensitize your skin, causing allergic reactions and dry scalp.
An immune disorder called psoriasis can cause an itchy scalp. Psoriasis causes the skin to build up to ten times faster than usual. The build-up of the skin creates thick flakes that itch terribly.
Psoriasis isn't contagious and often affects specific family lines. Flare-ups of psoriasis can be caused by stress, medications, infections, or skin damage such as cuts and scrapes.
What stops the itching of psoriasis?
Limit your time in the shower to 5 minutes. Too much time in the shower can dry your skin, making the itch worse.
Apply pH-balanced moisturizer. This helps reduce redness and itchiness. Ensure you use a moisturizer made with natural ingredients like aloe vera leaf juice and avoid anything containing strong fragrance or perfum.
Don't scratch! It might feel satisfying short term but scratching only makes the problem worse, especially if you draw blood. This can lead to infection and even scarring in some cases.
Instead of scratching, apply a moisturizer to itchy skin. Try keeping your moisturizer in the fridge - the cooling sensation soothes your itch.
- No more hot showers: Hot water can inflame your skin, causing redness, irritation and itching
We're all strapped for time, so sometimes blow drying is a quick-fire way to dry your hair quickly.
Can blow-drying cause hair damage?
Frequent blow-drying or hair straightening can damage your hair, leaving it dry and brittle.
The heat can also dry your scalp, leading to irritation and itchiness. It's entirely possible to scorch your scalp with a hairdryer, so be careful!
Where possible, use a clean, soft towel to blot your hair dry and let it dry naturally.
How to fix itchy scalp fast
- Use hair products made with natural ingredients (avoid chemicals)
- Limit your shower time to 5 minutes
- Don't blow dry your hair
- Use a pH balanced scalp treatment to replenish your scalp's moisture and relieve the itching