10 Reasons Why Your Scalp Is Itching

By Skin & Hair Academy | December 16, 2021
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An itchy scalp, also known as scalp pruritus, is a common skin ailment even though exact statistics regarding its prevalence are scarce. In most cases, scalp pruritus is a purely cosmetic concern and easily remedied. However, if the condition persists and is accompanied by more severe symptoms like pain, sores, or bleeding, it is advisable to consult a medical professional for a definitive diagnosis. Below, we have listed ten probable causes of an itchy scalp and its treatment options as recommended by experts.

  1. Dandruff
  2. DandruffOne of the most common causes of an itchy scalp is dandruff. The treatment options for dandruff vary and depend on the severity of the condition. In most cases, it is not serious, but if the scaling is yellow and greasy, it could indicate seborrheic dermatitis, which requires specialized treatment. In the case of mild dandruff, treatment involving medicated shampoos and a diet is sufficient for results.

    • What do experts say about dandruff?
    • According to experts and contrary to popular belief, dandruff has nothing to do with hair. It is the skin on the scalp that is the actual culprit. The exact cause of dandruff is unknown-however a fungus called Malassezia is considered one contributor. Another common cause of dandruff is seborrheic dermatitis or seborrhea.

    • What is an effective treatment for dandruff?
    • For mild cases of dandruff, it is advisable to wash the scalp with any gentle OTC shampoo. However, for severe cases, doctors prescribe medicated shampoos which are more effective. Practice discretion when choosing an anti-dandruff shampoo and consult a medical professional if the condition persists.

  3. Hives
  4. HivesHives is a condition that causes itchy, raised welts on the skin. These red, pink, or flesh-colored bumps may look severe but usually, go away on their own.

    • What do experts say about hives?
    • Hives are usually a result of an allergic reaction that causes the body to release histamines into the blood. The histamines can, in turn, cause some people to develop swelling or itching.

    • What is an effective treatment for hives?
    • As already stated, hives usually go away on their own. But in chronic or acute cases, a doctor may prescribe antihistamines such as cetirizine or fexofenadine to reduce the rash and stop itching. A doctor may also prescribe corticosteroids.

  5. Scabies
  6. ScabiesScabies is a skin condition caused by mites. These mites are microscopic and can reproduce on the skin for months. Common symptoms of scabies include intense itching, rashes, and blisters.

    • What do experts say about scabies?
    • Scabies is extremely common, highly contagious, and passed through direct skin contact with an infected person, their clothing, or bedding. It is also important to note that people usually have no symptoms when they get scabies.

    • What is an effective treatment for scabies?
    • Treatment of scabies involves prescription medication such as creams, lotions and pills.

  7. Scalp Ringworm
  8. Scalp RingwormRingworm is a fungal infection of the skin. Also known as tinea capitis, the condition is more common in children than adults. In fact, ringworm is also one of the causes of hair loss in children .

    • What do experts say about scalp ringworm?
    • The symptoms of ringworm include both itchy scalp and hair loss. Other symptoms are brittle hair, low-grade fever, painful scalp, and in severe cases, oozing pus.

    • What is an effective treatment for scalp ringworm?
    • Treatment for ringworm includes antifungal medication like griseofulvin, terbinafine hydrochloride and medicated shampoos containing ketoconazole or selenium sulfide.

  9. Reaction to a Hair Care Product
  10. Reaction to a Hair Care ProductAn itchy scalp and rash can also be caused by contact dermatitis. This is commonly seen as a reaction to hair dye or allergy from shampoo and conditioner residue left behind on the scalp.

    • What do experts say about allergies from hair care products?
    • If you frequently suffer from a dry, itchy scalp, it may help to learn about hair care ingredients to avoid. Sulfates and parabens are two examples of itchy skin-causing ingredients in everyday shampoos.

    • What is an effective treatment for reaction to hair care products?
    • The most effective way to stop itching caused by hair care products is to stop using the said products altogether.

  11. Scalp Psoriasis
  12. Scalp PsoriasisScalp psoriasis is a skin disorder that causes raised, reddish and scaly patches to form on the skin. The other symptoms of scalp psoriasis include silvery-white scales, dandruff flakes, dry scalp, burning and hair loss.

    • What do experts say about scalp psoriasis?
    • The exact causes of scalp psoriasis are unclear. However, doctors believe the root cause may be issued with the immune system that causes skin cells to develop into patches. Scalp psoriasis is not contagious, however, you may be more likely to get it if it runs in your family.

    • What is an effective treatment for scalp psoriasis?
    • The best treatment for an itchy scalp caused by scalp psoriasis involves medication. These include Calcipotriene, Betamethasone-calcipotriene,Tazarotene and Oral retinoids. Treatment might also include Ultraviolet (UV) light therapy.

  13. Atopic Dermatitis
  14. Atopic DermatitisAtopic dermatitis is a type of eczema that can develop on your scalp and cause redness, scaling, burning and, of course, itching.

    • What do experts say about atopic dermatitis?
    • Atopic dermatitis is a chronic condition that flares up periodically. The condition may also be accompanied by asthma or hay fever.

    • What is an effective treatment for atopic dermatitis?
    • Treatment for atopic dermatitis varies depending on the symptoms. For example, corticosteroid creams or ointments may be prescribed to control itching, antibiotic creams to treat bacterial infections, and oral corticosteroids to target inflammation.

  15. Nerve Problems
  16. Nerve ProblemsNeuropathic itching or nerve problems can be one cause of chronic itching. In simple words, the neuropathic itch is caused by damage to the nervous system.

    • What do experts say about nerve problems?
    • Research shows that lesions in the nervous system are one of the causes of this condition. Other diseases that may cause neuropathic itch include stroke, diabetes, and multiple sclerosis. The symptoms of nerve problems include burning, wetness, and pain.

    • What is an effective treatment for nerve problems?
    • Itchy scalp treatment for itching caused by nerve problems varies depending on the root cause and is difficult as most anti-itch medications do not provide relief. Treatment options can include lidocaine creams or patches, botox, neurostimulation techniques and acupuncture.

  17. Head lice
  18. Head liceHead lice are six-legged insects that feed on human blood. These small insects attach themselves to the scalp or neck and lay eggs called nits.

    • What do experts say about head lice?
    • Head lice symptoms include itching caused by bites, a tickling feeling, sores, and infections on the scalp. Head lice are highly contagious, hard to get rid of, and spread through head-to-head contact with an infected person.

    • What is an effective treatment for head lice?
    • Effective treatment for head lice involves medicated shampoos. Treatment may also include OTC medication containing pyrethrin, a compound that is toxic to lice. In cases where OTC remedies are not useful, a doctor may prescribe ivermectin, malathion, etc.

  19. Skin Cancer
  20. Skin CancerCertain kinds of skin cancer like basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma may cause itchy skin as one of the symptoms.

    • What do experts say about skin cancer?
    • Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are two of the most common types of skin cancer and are considered highly curable. These cancers have different symptoms but generally present themselves in the form of raised red patches that might be itchy and sores that bleed, scab, and keep returning.

    • What is an effective treatment for skin cancer?

      Skin cancer treatment depends on the type, location, severity, and several other criteria. Some possible treatments include surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy. The symptoms of itchy skin will be relieved once the cancer treatment is successful. However, while the cancer is ongoing, a doctor may prescribe topical steroids and antihistamines for itchy skin treatment


The above list provides an overview of the common causes of an itchy scalp and possible treatment options. However, for an accurate diagnosis and a more comprehensive treatment plan, it is advisable to contact a professional dermatologist. This is especially crucial if the itching is persistent, painful, and does not respond to common solutions. Skin and Hair Academy can help you get in touch with leading dermatologists near you who will solve all of your queries

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