An itchy scalp can be a huge nuisance especially if you have fallen into the trap of scratching it compulsively whenever you feel the tingling and itching sensation. However, getting genuine itchy scalp relief is more complicated than that. You need to first determine the root cause of the problem to choose the right course of action.
Bear in mind that an itchy scalp may be caused by things other than dandruff, such as a serious fungal infection or an autoimmune disorder. So, it is important to know when to see a dermatologist.
Why Does My Scalp Itch?
There’s no easy answer to this question. To start off on the right foot, you should be aware that the itch is just a symptom, not a condition per se. There are other conditions and factors that cause your scalp to itch like there's no tomorrow. Here are the most common ones.
- Dirt, bacteria, and sweat. Your hair might itch because you are not giving your locks the TLC they need. If you fail to wash your hair as many times as your natural sebum production asks for, the resulting build-up of dirt, bacteria, and natural oils will cause your hair roots and skin to itch. There’s no other solution than cleansing your hair regularly. And forget about dry shampoo. In some users, regular dry shampoo use may cause rashes and possibly even hair thinning and balding. Experts recommend using dry shampoos only every now and then or if you have extremely greasy hair. An itchy scalp might also start bothering you after an intense workout if you forget to wash your hair. Dried sweat may irritate the skin and cause the scalp to itch.
- Dandruff. One common cause of an itchy scalp is a common scalp condition known as dandruff. The main symptoms include an itchy and irritated scalp and unsightly flakes of dead skin cells. A more severe form of dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, might also affect the scalp. Dandruff can get worse if you are not cleansing your hair often enough. Also, certain ingredients in hair care products, including dyes, may worsen dandruff. Around 2 in 5 people are affected by dandruff at some point in their life.Too much added sugar and stress are breeding grounds for dandruff.
- Dry scalp. A flaky, dry skin is not to be mistaken for dandruff. People with oily skin are more likely to face dandruff issues. A dry scalp is usually a temporary issue especially if the air is too dry or too cold. That’s why many people complain about itchy hair in winter. One easy solution in this case is using a good hair conditioner or a hair mask to help restore the layer of protective oils on your scalp.
- Allergies. Some people might develop an allergic reaction to some ingredients in their favorite hair care products and not even know it. But the itchy feeling is hard to ignore. You may develop an allergy to a hair dye even if you have routinely used the said dye for years. For instance, many people are allergic to a common ingredient in black hair dyes called para-phenylenediamine (PPD) and are clueless about it. Any allergic reaction should stop if you manage to pinpoint the chemical that is causing it and stay away from it. Another common cause of an itchy scalp is leaving the hair care product you are mildly allergic to on your scalp for too long, like failing to completely rinse out the shampoo.
- Head lice. This is another common cause of an itchy scalp which usually affects school-age children. Nevertheless, you can get head lice from a hair salon, hotel pillows and sheets, or sharing hats, not just your kids. You can spot lice by their nits, or eggs, along individual hairs. Fortunately, there are natural lice removers you could use and in more severe cases, a dedicated insecticide can work wonders.
- Serious skin conditions. In some cases, a persistent itch on your scalp may be caused by a more serious condition, such as eczema, psoriasis, or folliculitis. Psoriasis is a severe autoimmune condition which requires (plenty of) prescription medication and several trips to your doctor’s office. But don’t ignore eczema and folliculitis, either. Only a health care professional can determine the right course of action.
How to Find Relief from an Itchy Scalp, Naturally
There are several remedies that you can try to get some itchy scalp relief in the comfort of your own home. Some of the most popular home remedies are tea tree oil, coconut oil, and apple cider vinegar. Usually, anything with strong anti-inflammatory properties such as whole hemp plant CBD should work (but more on that in a bit).
Tea Tree Oil. For quick relief, try a mask with natural tea tree oil, a plant oil with above-average anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antibacterial properties. However, don’t apply it directly to your scalp. Use an organic carrier oil as pure tea tree oil may irritate the skin. Tea tree oil has been proven effective against head lice too. According to a 2012 research paper, one percent of the ingredient is enough to kill off lice in about half an hour.
Coconut oil. This is another natural ingredient with anti-inflammatory properties that can help you get rid of the itch in an all-natural way. Due to its moisturizing effects, coconut oil can help improve dry skin appearance and help treat dandruff and eczema at the same time. A 2013 study found that virgin coconut oil can help alleviate eczema symptoms in kids better than mineral oil.
Researchers found that the natural plant oil is quickly absorbed by the skin to create a protective barrier against flakiness and inflammation. What’s more, healthy ingredients in coconut oil are behind its anti-bacterial properties that have been known since ancient times.
In 2009, a team of Thai scientists confirmed, once more, coconut oil’s anti-inflammatory prowess. We too have enriched our KINO CBD Kukui Nut (Coconut & Lilikoi) Face, Hair & Body Oil with coconut oil to boost whole hemp extract CBD’s natural anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties and help keep dandruff and scalp itching at bay.
Apple Cider Vinegar. You can make your all-natural cleansing shampoo at home especially if you are sensitive to most drugstore shampoos. Apple cider vinegar is great at alleviating dandruff and itching since it can balance your scalp’s pH levels like very few commercial hair care products can. However, because the vinegar can irritate the skin, it is recommended to use it in combination with an alkaline ingredient such as baking soda.
For a DIY itchy scalp shampoo, mix 2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar with 1 tsp of baking soda and add warm water. Wait for the two ingredients to react with one another before applying the mix to your wet hair. Rub it on to your scalp and rinse it off with warm water. If you have a really itchy scalp you can add 2 drops of tea tree oil or peppermint oil, two key ingredients for helping sooth an irritated scalp. This “shampoo” is especially great for greasy hair, but you might need to use it several times to see consistent results.