Itchy scalp is a common problem among men and women today. There are numerous causes of an itchy scalp, but the exact reason is still not apparent.
However, most people associate it with an overgrowth of a yeast skin organism, which makes seborrheic dermatitis more intense, especially during winter. This condition is more common in men; it is, therefore, essential for you to learn in detail about the causes.
In this article, I have listed the most common causes of itchy scalp and how to prevent them.
12 Most Common Causes of Itchy Scalp
1. Head Lice
It is funny how most of you assume that head lice mostly affect children.
Head lice are tiny grey-brown insects that live on the scalp of the head. These insects are typically spread through a head to head contact and usually cause itching if your scalp is sensitive to saliva or lice faeces.
Rhonda Q. Klein, MD (1), explains that head lice generally appear in the form of eggs along the hair shaft.
Well, it is easy to confuse the nits with dandruff, but with time, the adult lice will start moving around your head, and that is when you will realize that things are getting serious.
To get rid of head lice, you can use physical methods or use natural shampoos. Another simple solution is to shave your head entirely.
2. Psoriasis or Eczema
Eczema is an inflammatory condition that occurs in babies, while psoriasis occurs in adults.
Both conditions are a common cause of an itchy scalp, and according to Dr. Zeichner, the two conditions occur when the immune system is at loggerheads with the skin. Red, itchy, flaky patches characterize it.
Psoriasis is identical to dandruff, but it is much conspicuous and red.
Chronic eczema and psoriasis can be treated through phototherapy, excimer laser, and the use of steroids.
Scalp psoriasis can appear beyond the scalp at the back of the neck or behind the ears.
Scabies is caused by a tiny human itch mite, which digs into your scalp and can cause itchiness.
Scabies not only causes itching on the scalp but also on the entire body. The tiny mites are spread through skin-skin contact with an infected person, although scabies in adults is mostly spread through sexual contacts. It can easily be spread in crowded areas like nursing homes, prisons, and extended care facilities.
It is not every time that scabies causes itchy scalp unless your immune system is weak.
4. Allergic Reaction
Like the skin, the scalp is susceptible, and when you use specific hair products or shampoos, itching may occur.
According to Dr. Heather Haley, MD (2), people can have allergic reactions to anything applied on their scalp, from conditioners to hair dyes to shampoos.
Many black hair dyes contain a particular chemical known as paraphenylenediamine (PPD) (3), which is among the common cause of allergic scalp reactions. Interestingly, some creams can be used to diagnose the itchiness.
It is advisable to avoid using products that cause allergic reactions to your scalp; instead, try a different product brand that contains less hazardous chemicals.
Dandruff is a usual cause of dry, flaky scalp. It comes about when dead skin cells are shed faster, and although it is harmless, it can be annoying.
According to Jennifer Haley, MD (4), approximately 40% of people are affected by dandruff during their lifetime.
Some of the notable causes of dandruff include increased stress, high levels of sugar content in food, weather changes, and the use of certain hair products.
Sometimes the itching may be caused by a severe form of dandruff called seborrheic dermatitis, which occurs as a result of overreaction the body has to yeast.
Over the counter medications like salicylic acid, ketoconazole, and selenium sulfide can be administered to treat dandruff. Other natural remedies like tree oil and tea can be used while scalping can be taken to minimize itching.
If the medications fail to work, it is vital to visit a certified dermatologist who will determine the real culprit.
6. Scalp Ringworm
Ringworm is a typical fungal infection that creates dry, scaly patches within the hair or a red ring-like patch.
Ringworm can result in itchy scalp and hair loss. It can easily be transmitted from an infected person to another through towels, hairbrushes, and chairs.
Antifungal tablets can be used to treat scalp ringworm.
This condition is characterized by red pimples with strands of hair in the center of each. The red spots may usually contain pus and hence tend to be very itchy.
Sometimes, the symptoms may even disappear on their own within a few weeks but in case it does not disappear, Dr. Kronberg advises that you should take oral antibiotics.
8. Dirt and Sweat
Like the face and skin, the scalp needs to be thoroughly washed to prevent the residue build-up on hair roots and scalp, which causes itching.
Skipping a shower could also lead to itchy scalp, especially after having performed rigorous exercises. As soon as the sweat on the scalp dried, the skin gets irritated, causing the itchiness.
The simplest solution to these problems is to wash your hair carefully every time you exercise or sweat.
The condition is characterized by the growth of granulomas cells in various parts of the body.
Most doctors believe that sarcoidosis occurs when the body’s immune system comes into contact with a foreign substance.
Sarcoidosis is not necessarily a cause of itchy scalp unless other symptoms are involved, including:
- Persistent chest pains
- Swollen lymph glands
- Weight loss
- Fatigues and fever
- Lesions on the nose
10. Alopecia Areata
This condition causes tiny patches of hair to fall out quickly and can result in itchiness on the scalp. It is most common among people with a history of autoimmune disease.
The disease’s exact cause is unknown, but most scientists and researchers believe it occurs when the immune system attacks hair follicles.
Treatments for alopecia areata include steroids, immunotherapy, and antifungal medications.
Patients with this disease develop bald spots and, in chronic cases, experience hair loss. An itchy scalp is one of the early signs of alopecia areata, later accompanied by severe hair loss.
While the condition typically affects the nose, chin, and cheeks, it can also affect the scalp, causing itchiness.
It appears as pimples on the face and my burst up in the heat or after eating hot spicy foods and also when you are emotionally stressed.
In case you are suffering from rosacea, kindly visit your dermatologist to figure out the best treatment plan.
12. Skin Cancer
According to Dr. Khatri (5), skin cancer is a rare cause of itchy scalp. The. A specific cancer lesion that causes itching is melanoma.
In case of any bumps or sores on your scalp, it will be great if you ask someone to look at it to see if there are sores or perhaps allow a dermatologist to examine your scalp.
These doctors have significant expertise when it comes to treating skin cancer, and they can tell whether you need a test or not.
I have listed and explained the common causes of the itchy scalp, and I hope that the article has been helpful and that you enjoyed reading it.
The list has been useful to me because I have had my share of struggles with itchy scalp, and I have friends who have suffered from the same.
Well, I would also like you to comment about these causes from list complied above and share the article if you enjoyed it and have been helpful to you.
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(Important: The information in our articles are NOT intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and are not intended as medical advice.)