Having an itchy scalp, sometimes called scalp pruritis, can mean many things, ranging from autoimmune skin conditions, to dandruff, to allergic reactions.
And while a moderate temporary itch is probably nothing to be extremely worried about, it is good to have an idea of what might be going on.
In this article, we will outline a few of the more common reasons that you may be literally scratching your head.
Dandruff is one of the most common reasons that someone may be experiencing an itchy scalp.
Luckily, dandruff can usually be easily and safely identified and managed at home with the use of over-the-counter medicated shampoos, creams, and lotions.
Signs of dandruff include white flakes on shoulders and clothes, itchy scalp, scaly skin on your face, oily scalp, and rashes on the face or behind ears.
If your itchy scalp is a new development after switching hair products, you may be having an allergic reaction to the product, sometimes called contact dermatitis.
Contact dermatitis normally looks like a red itchy rash concentrated on an area that came into contact with the irritating product.
Think back to the timeline of the itch and if it coincides with starting a new shampoo or hair dye, you should stop the potentially irritating product and the rash usually clears up on its own.
Always be sure to fully rinse off products like shampoos and conditioners, as the excess residue left on the scalp could cause scalp reactions.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune skin condition that can sometimes present on the scalp area.
There may be a genetic component to scalp psoriasis, so if people in your family have psoriasis you are more likely to develop the condition, but the condition cannot be spread from person to person.
Signs of scalp psoriasis include scaly, red, bumpy patches, silvery-white patches, dry scalp, flaking skin, itching, burning, soreness, hair loss.
Psoriasis is sometimes treated with over-the-counter shampoos and creams containing coal tar or salicylic acid, but more severe presentations may require stronger prescription options from your doctor.
If your itchy scalp comes along with patchy hair loss, you may be experiencing an autoimmune disease called alopecia areata.
Usually, the hair falls out suddenly in round patches that may eventually grow back, and alopecia tends to happen in otherwise healthy people.
If you have an itchy scalp with hair loss, but the hair loss is not patchy: you may just be losing hair from excessive scratching of the area, and this is likely not alopecia.
Once the underlying condition causing the itchiness is under control, you can look into hair treatments like Strut Hair Formula with Minoxidil or Finasteride tablets to help preserve and potentially regain your former coiffeur.
Schedule an Online Visit with our doctors today to see if these prescription hair loss treatments are right for you.
Ringworm can develop on the scalp, and when this happens it tends to be a lot more difficult to deal with than ringworm located elsewhere on the body.
Ringworm on the scalp is called Tinea Capitis and it is caused by a fungal infection of the scalp skin and hair follicles (not a worm).
Tinea Capitis may appear as thick scaly swellings of the scalp or large raised red rings and may cause hair loss on the affected areas.
Due to the increased treatment difficulty of ringworm on the scalp, over-the-counter antifungals won’t cut it and you will need to see a doctor for prescription therapy to clear up the infection.
Head lice may be another reason for an intensely itchy scalp, and this one occurs most commonly in school-aged children.
On the bright side, head lice can be easily self-diagnosed by having someone closely look through your hair. If, upon inspection, you can see adult lice or eggs you can assume that head lice are the cause of your itchiness.
Head lice symptoms include an intense head itching, a crawling sensation on your scalp, small red bumps on or around your scalp, and being able to see the insects or eggs.
Over-the-counter products like Nix or Rid are easily available and commonly used for getting rid of head lice, but if they don’t seem to do the trick you may need to see a doctor for a prescription lice treatment.
If you have ever been diagnosed with neuropathy, you know that this means that some of your nerves have been damaged or aren’t functioning properly and lead to itchy, painful, or tingling sensations in certain parts of your body.
Neuropathy is most often felt in the legs but it can also affect your scalp in certain cases, causing tingling or itching.
Diseases that tend to come along with neuropathy include shingles or diabetes.
Your doctor or dermatologist should be able to identify if the itching is nerve-related or due to something else.
There may be a few other less common but more severe reasons for an itchy scalp, including psychiatric disorders or certain skin cancers.
If you are unsure of what is causing your itchy scalp symptoms, or the is severe, be sure to speak with your doctor or dermatologist about the issue.