Do You Know What’s Causing Your Dry, Itchy Scalp? 5 Possible Causes

Have you ever experienced getting an itchy scalp?

Itchy scalp, also known as scalp pruritus, can cause scratching and discomfort in sufferers. It can occur during periods of stress, illness, or changing of the seasons, often as a symptom of another condition.           Some are treatable at home, while some might need medical attention.

Let’s learn a bit more about five of the most common causes and how to treat them. 

1. Dandruff

Dandruff causes white, oily flakes to fall from the scalp that stick to hair or fall to one’s shoulders, which can be embarrassing. The exact causes of dandruff are not well understood, but it’s known that it can be triggered by stress put on your immune system, causing an overproduction of skin cells on your scalp, making it dry and itchy.

Dandruff is not contagious and cannot be spread to others.

To treat it: Use an anti-dandruff shampoo that will calm the scalp and regulate skin cell production. Most cases can be cured by an over-the-counter formulation.  

2. Seborrheic dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis is a skin condition that tends to affect oily areas of the body such as the nose, scalp, chest, and upper back. It’s a form of skin eczema that can be caused by hormonal changes, stressful, illness, and cold, dry weather.

This form of dermatitis causes yellow, dry, itchy patches of skin which may turn red and inflamed during a flare-up or if scratched repeatedly. In children, it can affect the scalp and forehead area and is known as cradle cap.

To learn more, please read this article we’ve also written about it.

To treat it: Use a mild, moisturizing shampoo to calm scalp itchiness, as this condition sometimes heals on its own. A certified dermatologist may prescribe anti-inflammatory creams and other medication to decrease the itch if your condition lasts longer than expected.

3. Head lice

Let’s clear two most common misconceptions about head lice: they’re not caused by poor hygiene, and they do not cause illnesses. Anyone can catch them, but these tiny insects are most often caught by children in preschool or elementary schools.

Lice cannot jump or fly, so they need close person-to-person contact to crawl from one head to another. They can also be spread through shared objects, such as hats, combs, brushes, or towels. They die within 24 hours if they cannot feed on the scalp, which causes the intense itching. 

To treat it: Apply over-the-counter shampoos that contain lice medicine (pediculicides), such as pyrethrin, which kills live lice, or malathion, which can kill eggs (some, but often not all). After shampooing, go through your hair with a fine-toothed comb to remove the eggs. 

4. Tinea capitis (scalp ringdown)

Tinea capitis is not caused by worms, but by a fungal infection that affects the scalp. It extends deep into the hair follicle, resulting in round patches of hair loss that can increase in size over time. You may get raised, bumpy rashes that have black spots or a stubbly appearance.

Fungal infections can cause hair follicle inflammation and damage, which can lead to hair loss. Scratching can also injure hair follicles, so don’t scratch!

To treat it: You will need to consult a good dermatologist to examine your scalp and prescribe anti-fungal medication to heal hair follicles, allowing hair to grow back.

5. Psoriasis

Much like eczema, psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that affects the skin. It’s characterized by raised and usually round, scaly, and silvery patches of skin that turn red and itchy. It can appear on the scalp, the back of the neck, and ears, causing dandruff, dry scalp, and itching. 

Medical experts believe psoriasis is hereditary but can also be triggered by environmental factors. Just like eczema or other skin dermatitis, it is not contagious.   

To treat it: Your dermatologist may prescribe mild shampoos, anti-inflammatory creams, and hair medication with salicylic acid or tar.

When in doubt, visit a skin care specialist to help you with your scalp problems. In the meantime, control the itch while keeping hair and scalp clean with Moringa-O2’s all-natural anti-dandruff shampoo with malunggay, olive oil, and sunflower oil, which are safe and gentle on the skin.

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