Reviewed by Dr Claudia Pastides, 25th April 2019
An itchy scalp can be incredibly irritating, especially if the itch is so bad that it’s difficult to go about your everyday life. There are dozens of reasons why you might experience an itchy scalp, from using certain haircare products to contracting a fugal infection. In some cases, the itching is accompanied by more serious side-effects, like hair loss and a crusted, blistered scalp.
It can be tempting to try and self-diagnose an itchy scalp, but treating it incorrectly could make the problem worse. Speak with a GP today to pinpoint the cause of your itchy scalp and set yourself on the path to getting the right treatment.
Causes of an itchy scalp
The most common reasons for an itchy scalp are:
- Dandruff - dandruff is the result of the skin cells on the scalp renewing too quickly, causing an excess of old, dead skin cells. Dandruff can be itchy, and can cause white flakes to fall from the scalp.
- Psoriasis - this skin condition is often worse around the scalp area. Psoriasis can cause the skin on the scalp to become dry and scaly, and in serious cases, you may notice temporary hair loss.
- Eczema - eczema is another condition which causes itchy, red and dry skin on the scalp. Complications of eczema include infection of the skin, as bacteria can more easily breach broken skin. Eczema is common and may run in families; moreover there are a number of triggers that can cause an eczema outbreak, including sweat, stress, heat, allergies and dust.
- Head lice - particularly common in children of school age, head lice, or ‘nits’, are tiny insects that live on the scalp and cause itching. They’re harmless, but the itching can be very unpleasant.
Of course, there are many other reasons why your scalp may feel itchy. A slight reaction to a hair product, a change in climate and a variety of autoimmune conditions can cause an itchy scalp. Self-diagnosing the cause of your itchy scalp can be challenging - speak to a doctor to find out the root cause and discuss the best treatments possible.
Treating an itchy scalp
Treatment for your itchy scalp will depend on the cause of the problem. In many cases, a medicated shampoo or cream for your scalp will help resolve the issue. If your itchy scalp was caused by eczema or psoriasis, your doctor might encourage you to pinpoint your triggers and make an effort to avoid them in the future.
Where head lice are concerned, medicated lotions and sprays are available to buy at local pharmacies and supermarkets. Everyone in the household should be treated at the earliest opportunity.
Don’t leave the diagnosis of your itchy scalp down to guesswork. Get in touch with a GP today to find out how you can treat the problem and find relief from itching.
The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of a doctor with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never delay seeking or disregard professional medical advice because of something you have read here.