How to Treat an Itchy Scalp, According to Experts

Relief is around the corner.

How to Treat an Itchy Scalp, According to Experts

Getty Images

Let’s be honest: it isn’t fun when something feels itchy, much less your scalp. After all, your scalp is the foundation for your hair. But while it’s not exactly the sexiest of beauty topics, having an itchy scalp is pretty common.

According to trichologist Bridgette Hill, an itchy scalp can be caused for any number of reasons, ranging from an irritating products, to a more clinical condition like eczema. And luckily, interest in scalp care has never been more prevalent.

So, regardless of whatever reason you’re struggling with an itchy scalp, you’ve got pretty good odds at figuring it out what’s causing it and what you need to start doing to prevent it. Read ahead for some expert advice on how to treat your itchy scalp, once and for all!

What causes an itchy scalp?

According to Hill, an itchy scalp (aka scalp pruritus) can be a symptom of using products incompatible with your scalp, a dry or dehydrated scalp, different types of dandruff, or more severe medical scalp conditions like dermatitis, psoriasis, Lichen planopilaris, and eczema. And Fabian Lliguin, hairstylist and co-founder of Rahua Beauty, attributes 90% of itchy scalps to over-shampooing hair and scalp with strong sulfates contained in conventional chemical base shampoo.

Lliguin’s logic makes plenty of sense — your scalp can be seen as an extension of the skin on your face, and using harsh cleansers too frequently can leave your face feeling dry, itchy, and irritated. In cases like over-shampooing, He says that any flakes that could come off your head will usually be small, dry, and white. In the remaining 10% of cases of itchy scalps Lliguin sees, he notes that itching can be attributed to super oily scalps, or to dandruff (which will have waxy, yellow-y, oily clusters on the scalp with some odor). 

How to treat an itchy scalp:

Troubleshooting the root cause of your itchy scalp is to evaluate your products. Both Hill and Lliguin recommend checking if your hair products are formulated without strong irritants or harsh sulfates. Reducing how often you shampoo and using gentler products could potentially sort out potential itching caused by dryness. Lliguin also discourages the use of dandruff-specific shampoos, which can be especially drying and may exacerbate the root cause of the itching.

From there, if changing your products results in no change, pay closer attention to your routine in general — the itching could also be attributed to not washing shampoo or other products out of your hair entirely.

Finally, if the itching doesn’t go away, consider going to a doctor for a more specialized diagnosis. The root cause of the itch could be seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis, or Lichen planopilaris. Hill also suggests going to the doctor in the event that your scalp itches, but shows no signs of redness or flakiness, there’s a chance the itching could be caused by a parasite in the follicle called demodox.

Types of products to use if you have an itchy scalp:

Hill is a big fan of pre-treating your scalp before you shampoo your hair and strongly recommends the René Furterer Astera Collection, which has a cooling pre-shampoo concentrate. She says to then follow up with refreshing shampoo. The mint and eucalyptus extract should soothe irritated and itchy scalps.

A soothing, sulfate-free shampoo will be the cornerstone product to treat your itchy scalp. Rahua’s Classic Shampoo is a great option, as well as Act+Acre’s Cold Pressed Hair Cleanse — but the important things to keep in mind are a shampoo formulated without SLS, (aka unnecessary fragrance). Finally, consider investing in a post-wash product for your scalp to keep things balanced and soothed to keep the itch away. Rahua’s Scalp and Skin Toner is a fantastic option for those with oilier scalps in need of a lighter touch of hydration, while GM Reverie’s Cake Restorative Scalp Treatment Serum is perfect for a scalp in need of a juicy quenching serum full of soothing hydrosols and peptides.

Related Articles