At some point of life each person would have gone through itchy scalp. It is quite common to have dandruff on your scalp which is nothing but flaking of skin of the scalp. Dandruff or itchy scalp can be controlled with medicated shampoos. Skin dryness is the major cause for itchy scalp and some people develop it due to inflammatory disorders like lichen planus and other problems. It is enough if you keep your hair clean and dry-free to prevent itchy scalp.
Dandruff and itchy scalp can be easily identified with white flakes of dead skin on your shirt and shoulders. Any person can develop itchy scalp and sometimes it can affect babies also. Newborns getting itchy scalp is known as cradle cap and they are often seen scratching their head. And the symptoms of itchy scalp gets worse during winter due to indoor heating.
Some of the common signs of itchy scalp include irritation, scratching of scalp, white dot like matter falling from your head (flakes of skin), scaling and even redness of skin. Some people may develop sores or lesions on the scalp adding more problems. Hair loss can occur due to severe itchy scalp. Hair may start losing the required protein content resulting in thinning of hair. In severe cases it can cause physiological symptoms like cough or runny nose if flakes of skin are inhaled. For some people it can cause rashes or burning pain on the scalp.
Number of factors can cause itchy scalp but major cause is dryness of skin. It can be due to infection or dryness of skin or inflammatory disorders.
- Dry Skin :
Dry skin is the major cause of itchy scalp and dandruff. There would be optimal balance of dryness and oily nature of the skin on the scalp and when it is disturbed it can lead to dryness of scalp forcing you to itch or scratch the scalp. Some people are born with dry skin and for them daily application of oil is necessary to prevent dryness. Dry skin can be caused due to over exposure to sun, due to winter climate and due to poor maintenance of the scalp.
- Disorders :
Various disorders like psoriasis, Lichen planus etc contribute for inflammatory problems. Psoriasis is one of the most common problems that cause itchy scalp. Thick patches are formed on the scalp here and there and are covered by silver crusty matter. The problem can be mild or moderate or severe and it can cause inflammation of the scalp and severe itching.
Similarly Lichen planus is another problem causing itchy scalp which requires medical treatment. Dermatitis is a type of allergic reaction when the scalp is treated with bad shampoos or dyes. Any foreign chemicals like dye can cause rashes and itchy scalp. Changing the shampoos or dyes frequently can lead to contact dermatitis.
- Infection :
Bacteria or virus or fungus can cause infection on the scalp. Chicken pox can cause blisters and scales on the scalp. Folliculitis is a type of bacterial infection affecting the scalp causing itching and pain. Dandruff can be due to fungal infection and improper maintenance of hair. Eczema and seborrheic dermatitis are some other reasons for itchy scalp. Tinea capitis is a type of ringworm causing red scaly patches on the scalp with seveer itching. This type of fungal infection can easily spread by exchanging combs.
Cradle cap is a major problem for newborns leading to itchy scalp. This can occur due to increased hormone secretion and oily glands. Increased stress and emotion and anxiety can also affect the balance of your scalp leading to hair loss and itching. Increased number of head lice can cause severe scratching and is common in teenage girls and women. Poor maintenance of hair is considered to be root cause for lice formation. If you are not shampooing your hair regularly dead skin cells can pile up causing patches and itchy scalp. Changing hair oil/dye/shampoo frequently can cause contact dermatitis.
Itchy scalp can be easily detected with visible signs of scratching.
Most of the issues of itchy scalp can be resolved by home remedies and proper maintenance of hair. Itchy scalp is surely a nuisance and cause embarrassment for the affected person. But little care and regular washing can help in preventing itchy scalp. You need not have to consult your doctor or dermatologist unless there is severe itching caused by infection or inflammatory disorders. Itchy scalp can be often controlled and prevented by using medicated shampoos over the counter.
Wash your hair regularly and apply oil alternate days. You need to brush your hair daily to facilitate equal distribution of oil over the hair. Do not change the hair care products frequently. Stick on to branded products and choose only unscented oil and shampoos. For some people using hair conditioner or hair gel can cause itchy scalp and irritation. Nizoral provides excellent relief from dandruff and head lice. Don’t share your comb, brush and pillows with others if you have lice.
Natural moisture of the scalp can get disturbed if you wash your hair daily or very frequently. Similarly if you ignore hair wash dust particles can get accumulated on the hair leading to dandruff and itchy scalp. Choose the shampoo that contains zinc pyrithione or ketoconazole or salicylic acid to manage dandruff and head lice. Most of the issues of seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff will get resolved by using these medicated shampoos. Shampoos like Neutrogena T and other Tar based shampoo can also be used. While using shampoo gently massage the shampoo after wetting your hair properly and leave it for few minutes. Thoroughly rinse your hair and after drying the hair completely apply oil or gel on it. Eat a balanced diet and drink enough water to maintain moisture on your skin and hair. Do not use hair sprays and mousses on your hair since it can build up scalp leading to dandruff.