An Introduction to Your Scalp’s Health
Despite people spending countless hours styling, cutting, and perfecting their hair, the scalp is often overlooked. That is until it starts to itch! An itchy scalp is a prevalent condition that affects everyone at some point or another. Whether it occurs due to insect bites, allergic reactions, or even pests like lice, a red, itchy, irritated scalp can be a truly uncomfortable experience. Not to mention just how difficult it can be to narrow down its root causes!
Not only can an itchy scalp cause an incredible amount of discomfort, the condition can also create issues with hair growth if left untreated. And though many irritations are simply a temporary concern, consistent irritation can cause sores and might be a sign of a more serious medical problem.
What are the Causes of an Itchy Scalp?
Determining the causes of an itchy scalp can sometimes feel a bit like being a detective. Various conditions can cause skin irritation and itchiness. For example, it could be seborrheic dermatitis dandruff, or it may occur due to eczema or an allergic reaction. As a result, sometimes, narrowing down the culprit can be a challenging process. But by taking the time to narrow down what is causing your scalp itch, you’ll stand a far better chance of finding the proper treatment.
To illustrate just how many different conditions cause itchy scalp, we’ve listed a few below:
1. Chemical reactions to hair products
Sometimes, hair products such as soaps, shampoos, and conditioners can lead to major skin irritation on the scalp.
Dandruff is a condition that develops due to extremely dry skin. It’s a common condition and affects millions of Americans daily.
Numerous over-the-counter dandruff shampoos are designed to alleviate skin flakes and irritation. However, these treatments sometimes contain chemicals and anti-fungal medications that inflame or irritate the skin.
3. Head Lice
Head Lice is a condition that has sent countless parents recoiling in horror. These parasitic insects can cause intense itching caused by biting the scalp’s surface. They’re relatively easy to identify and treat, however! Using a lice comb and an over-the-counter lice shampoo, these pesky creatures can be eliminated.
4. Allergies and Irritation
Often, itchy scalps can be traced back to allergic reactions. This can occur due to an internal allergic reaction caused by food or skin contact with a chemical or allergen. These reactions are often preventable if you can narrow down the root causes and avoid them.
5. Poor Diet
Believe it or not, a poor diet can cause or exacerbate itchy skin on the scalp! Unhealthy eating habits can lead to clogged pores, which, in turn, can cause severe inflammation and itching. Maintaining a healthy diet full of nutrient-rich choices can help clear skin and resolve uncomfortable scalp itch.
6. Air Pollution
Much like an unhealthy diet, air pollution is a potential contributor to itchy skin. Pollutants and microscopic particles can land on the skin, causing breakouts and allergic reactions.
7. Other Issues
Many skin conditions can cause an itchy scalp as well. Psoriasis, eczema, and others can cause dry patches of skin and an intense itch.
Symptoms of a Dry Itchy Scalp
Having a dry scalp can cause several symptoms to manifest on your skin. Whether by persistent scratching or as a result of breakouts, people often notice the following symptoms accompanying their itchy scalp:
• Bald patches
Repeated scratching can damage and irritate the skin’s surface, causing intense itching as a response. On the scalp, this scratching can continue until it damages the hair follicles, inhibiting growth. This condition is often temporary, and hair will return once the site of irritation is healed.
• Dry skin
Sometimes, dry skin can simply make your skin feel brittle, paper-like, and itchy. This can be made worse in the winter months when your skin is subjected to frigid temperatures and dry air.
• Low-grade fever
Believe it or not, dry, itchy skin can lead to a fever. Any inflammation can cause the body to react with a low-grade fever.
• Pus-filled sores
If your scalp has been damaged by repeated scratching, it can lead to some nasty infections. Additionally, fungal infections can cause sores if not properly treated.
Another byproduct of skin inflammation and irritation is swelling.
Medically Treating an Itchy Scalp
Like the many causes of an itchy scalp, there are also a ton of different remedies. There are many choices available, from topical ointments to moisturizers and anti-fungal creams. Some of these treatments include:
1. Anti-Fungal Creams
If you suffer from fungal infections, such as ringworm, anti-fungal creams are an incredibly effective treatment. These creams are available in both prescription and over-the-counter forms, depending on the severity of your issue.
2. Keratolytics/Salicylic Acids
These exfoliating chemicals can help remove dry, dead skin from the surface of your outer dermal layer.
3. Pyrithione Zinc
This compound has incredible anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties and can help alleviate itching caused by fungal infections.
4. Topical Steriods
For those who suffer from eczema, topical creams that include steroids can reduce inflammation and stave off excessive itching.
Seven Dermatologist-approved Treatments for an Itchy Scalp
If you suffer from an itchy scalp, have no fear. There are a ton of home remedies that can help alleviate excessive itching. Below, we’ve put together just a few homemade solutions for your itchy skin:
Keeping your skin clear of dirt, debris, and dead skin will help your skin remain clear and free of breakouts that can cause intense itching.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a mile form of acid that can defoliate the skin, reducing inflammation and providing much-needed itch relief.
3. Dandruff Shampoo
There are several different types of over-the-counter shampoos that treat dandruff. Reducing dead skin flakes and dry skin can keep your scalp clear and itch-free.
4. Stop Using Dry Shampoo
Dry shampoo is not an excellent replacement for the real thing. The chemicals contained within many dry shampoos can irritate and inflame the skin.
5. Use Coconut Oil
This clever home remedy can soothe dry and irritated skin among a host of other benefits. These include antimicrobial properties that reduce the presence of bacteria and moisturizing benefits that will reduce troublesome itches.
6. Tea Tree Oil
In addition to reducing the presence of dandruff, tea tree oil possesses a ton of anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. If you decide to use this product at home, adding between 8-10 drops to your shampoo can work wonders on a dry, scratchy scalp.
7. Homemade Treatments
There are many ingredients lying around the house that could make excellent treatments for an itchy scalp. Products that have soothing properties, such as milk-based products, yogurt, and even bananas, are a great choice to calm inflamed skin.
Changes that Can Alleviate Scalp Itch
If you suffer from dry, itchy scalp, you can rest assured that you’re not alone and that there are ways to reduce symptoms. These include:
Stress levels have a lot to do with the quality of your skin. People with increased stress are more likely to experience breakouts and skin irritation. By managing your stress levels, you can reduce breakouts and issues that cause itchiness.
• Staying Hydrated
This is one of the most important ways to reduce any form of skin irritation! Keeping your body properly hydrated allows your skin cells to remain properly moisturized, significantly reducing itching skin.
• Improving Your Diet
As we’ve mentioned, maintaining a nutrient-rich diet can have tremendous effects on the quality of your skin. It can reduce breakouts acne symptoms and reduce overall inflammation.
• Get Some Rest!
Another often overlooked aspect of maintaining healthy skin is to get plenty of rest. Staying well-rested encourages cell production and can promote a reduction in overall inflammation.
Dealing with Severe Itchy Scalp? Winston Salem Dermatology Can Help!
If you suffer from dry skin and an itchy scalp, don’t fret! There are a ton of over-the-counter solutions available, depending on the root causes of your skin condition. However, for those that experience intense irritation that has progressed to causing sores, it may be time to consult with a dermatologist.
And that’s where we come in! With years of experience assisting patients in skincare solutions, our team of experts can help diagnose and treat a wide variety of skin issues. In addition, we offer treatments for conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis, and even skin cancers.
And if you’re simply looking to reclaim that youthful glow, Winston Salem Dermatology is also proud to present a wide selection of cosmetic treatments. We offer chemical peels, IPL therapy, laser hair removal, and much more!
Give us a call today at (336) 774-8636 and let our specialists help schedule an appointment!