In need of scratching your head more than usual? A dry, itchy scalp is a pretty annoying skin problem. A little itch here and there is normal but when the situation is something like taking a rake to your head, then there’s something else going on. If you find yourself itching your head constantly, the reason can be more than just dandruff. So, what exactly does your scratch scalp mean? There can be various conditions causing an itchy scalp, dandruff, ringworm or something more serious like a bacterial infection, even autoimmune conditions. That’s why before stopping the itching, figuring out the cause is important. Find out more as you continue, what your itchy scalp is trying to tell you.
Causes and Treating an Itchy Scalp
Treatment of this issue will generally depend on the causes of the problem. Here are some of the common reasons that cause most of the itchiness along with their remedies.
Dry scalp: This is a very common issue especially during the winter and fall seasons when the air is dry.
Remedy: To resolve this issue try a moisturizing hair conditioner or use a once-per-week scalp and hair mask.
Dirt and sweat: When you are not washing your hair regularly, it builds up oils, dirt, and other residues on the roots of your hairs and scalp. Those can irritate the skin and also cause more scratching and itching.
Remedy: Wash your hair regularly. Scrub your scalp and roots with a suitable shampoo. Before rinsing off, ensure that it lathers well and dissolves the excess oil along with other debris.
Dandruff: This leads to an excess buildup of old, dead skin cells. Dandruff can be really itchy and cause white flakes to fall from your scalp.
Remedy: In case of mild dandruff, over-the-counter shampoos that contain selenium or zinc pyrithione, useful ingredients for controlling yeast, can work like a charm. If you are having a serious case, you may need a prescription-strength anti-fungal shampoo, solution, cream, ointment, topical cortisone or medicated foam.
Fungus: Fungal infections are quite common skin issues that can easily lead to an itchy scalp. Fungi love moisture and dead cell, oil, dirt etc. buildup on your scalp.
Psoriasis: Psoriasis itself is a bad skin condition and it is especially worse around the scalp area. Just like dandruff, it can be caused by rapid skin cells replacement and thus, excess old skin cells build up. Psoriasis can even cause your scalp to be dry and scaly. In serious cases, you may even experience temporary hair loss.
Remedy: For keeping scalp psoriasis in control, you can use over-the-counter medications like shampoos containing coal tar or salicylic acid. Don’t forget to get a medical checkup by your doctor.
Eczema: This is another terrible skin condition that can cause red, itchy and dry skin on your scalp. Complications of eczema include skin infection as bacteria can easily penetrate through the broken skin. Eczema is common and it may run in the family. Moreover, there are a number of available triggers that can lead to an eczema outbreak including heat, allergies, sweat, stress, and dust.
Remedy: For both eczema and psoriasis, topical steroids, salicylic acid, phototherapy, excimer laser, and immunomodulatory agents are useful. But above all, see your doctor for treatment in such skin conditions.
Head lice: This is particularly common among school-age children. Head lice, “nits”, are tiny insects living on the scalp while collecting nutrition from it. They can cause intense itching. Generally, these insects are harmless. However, the itching can be seriously unpleasant.
Remedy: Over-the-counter lotions, shampoos, and creams containing Malathion or permethrin should take care of the lice. This should be used once a week and treatment should continue for several weeks.
Tinea capitis: It is a fungal infection that is familiar with a more common name (ringworm). It can infect the scalp. Tinea capitis is capable of extending deep into the hair follicles. This can lead to round patches of lost hair that will eventually increase over time. Scalp ringworm can spread on contaminated combs, brushes, hats, and pillows.
Remedy: If you are facing a ringworm infection, an over-the-counter antifungal formula can help. Since the fungi dig deep into your skin, you will also need to take oral anti-fungal medications. Treating ringworms on the scalp requires prescription medications, so you will have to see your doctor to get the correct diagnosis as ringworm can sometimes be confused with other skin problems.
Allergic reactions: This is caused by a reaction to certain allergens. It is not a common cause of an itchy scalp.
Remedy: You can avoid such allergic reactions if you identify the elements causing the problem and staying away from it. However, it’s a challenging task and requires specialized tests in a dermatologist’s office.
Scabies: Scabies is an infestation of the “human itch mite” It’s another type of insect. The adult, female scabies mites, burrow itself into the upper skin layer. There they live and deposit eggs.
Remedy: If you are suffering from scabies, you will need prescribed treatments, so see your doctor right away to get the right diagnosis and treatment for your condition.
When To Worry About Scalp Itchiness
In most cases, an itchy scalp is nothing to worry about. However, in cases, it can easily indicate something more serious. See your doctor if you experience red or swollen scalp. Don’t forget to check whether your shampoo is helping your condition, redness, flaking is spreading throughout your face or other skin areas, you notice lice or nits in your hair, or the itching starts interfering with your everyday life.
Never, ever leave your itchy scalp down to your guesswork. You have just read some of the serious conditions that can cause an itchy scalp. However, there are even more situations like a Nerve problem, atopic dermatitis, sunburn, skin cancer, rosacea, sarcoidosis, folliculitis, phantom scalp itch, lupus, lymphoma etc.
If you are having trouble pinpointing the cause of itching, don’t panic, just see your doctor. He or she will order the necessary treatment for you or advise you to see a dermatologist for your condition. The specialist will be able to give you an accurate diagnosis and suggest treatment plans specifically tailored for your needs. I do hope, what your itchy scalp is trying is trying to tell you will be of some help to you.
Did I miss anything? Feel free to leave a comment or share. Have an itch-free scalp today!