What To Do When Scalp Is Dry And Itchy

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Dry and itchy scalp is a common issue that many people face, and it can be both uncomfortable and frustrating. If you’re dealing with this problem, you may be wondering what you can do to get some relief.

The first step you should take when experiencing a dry and itchy scalp is to identify the cause of the problem.  This could include factors such as harsh hair products, weather changes and many others factors which we are going to discuss ahead. Once the cause is identified, you can then take appropriate action, such as switching to a milder hair product or seeking medical treatment.

In this article, we’ll explore the various causes of dry and itchy scalp and provide you with tips and tricks on how to treat and prevent this uncomfortable condition. From natural remedies to medicated shampoos, we’ll cover it all.

So, let’s dive in and learn how to soothe your scalp and get rid of that pesky itch for good.

Dry and itchy scalp can present itself in a variety of ways, and the symptoms can vary from person to person. However, there are some common symptoms that are associated with this condition.

One of the most obvious symptoms is an itchy scalp. You may experience an overwhelming urge to scratch your scalp, and this can be particularly bothersome when you’re trying to focus on other tasks.

Another symptom of dry and itchy scalp is flakiness. You may notice small white flakes in your hair or on your clothing, which is caused by the shedding of dead skin cells from your scalp.

In addition, you may also experience redness and inflammation on your scalp, which can be both uncomfortable and unsightly. Your scalp may also feel tight and dry, and you may experience a burning sensation or soreness. These symptoms can be particularly frustrating.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to take action to soothe your scalp and prevent further discomfort.

Understanding The Causes Of Dry And Itchy Scalp

Dry and itchy scalp can be caused by a variety of factors, including skin conditions, hair care practices, and allergic reactions.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common causes:

1. Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis is a common skin condition that mainly affects the scalp, but can also occur on other oily areas of the body such as the face, chest, and ears. It causes scaly patches, inflamed skin, and stubborn dandruff. When seborrheic dermatitis affects the scalp, it can lead to a dry and itchy scalp.

The condition causes an overgrowth of yeast on the skin, which leads to inflammation and irritation. The inflamed skin can become dry, itchy, and flaky, resulting in dandruff.

Seborrheic dermatitis can also cause redness, swelling, and inflammation of the scalp, which can further contribute to itchiness and discomfort.

The exact cause of seborrheic dermatitis is unknown, but it is thought to be related to a combination of genetic, hormonal, and environmental factors. While the condition is not contagious, it can be chronic and recurring, and may require ongoing treatment to manage symptoms.

Related: How to Treat Dandruff Naturally And Permanently

How To Treat Seborrheic Dermatitis On Scalp

The most common treatment for mild cases of seborrheic dermatitis is anti-dandruff shampoos that contain active ingredients such as selenium, zinc pyrithione, salicylic acid or coal tar.

These ingredients reduce inflammation and control the growth of yeast on the scalp, which can cause dandruff. It’s essential to use these shampoos as directed on the label, which may involve shampooing your hair twice a week or more frequently.

If over-the-counter products don’t help, your healthcare provider may recommend an antifungal shampoo containing ciclopirox or ketoconazole.

For moderate to severe cases, your healthcare provider may prescribe a shampoo containing betamethasone valerate, clobetasol, fluocinolone, or fluocinolone solution.

It’s important to watch for any side effects and follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations. With the right treatment, seborrheic dermatitis can be effectively controlled, improving the health and appearance of your scalp.

2. Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition that affects the skin, including the scalp. It occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy skin cells, causing them to grow too quickly and build up on the surface of the skin. This results in thick, scaly patches of skin that can be itchy, red, and inflamed.

When psoriasis affects the scalp, it can cause a dry and itchy scalp. The thick, scaly patches of skin can accumulate on the scalp, causing it to become dry and flaky. The patches can also be itchy and uncomfortable, leading to further scratching and irritation.

How To Treat Scalp Psoriasis

There are a variety of treatment options available. One of the first-line treatments for scalp psoriasis is topical medications, such as medicated shampoos, creams, gels, lotions, foams, oils, ointments, and soaps.

Over-the-counter (OTC) products containing salicylic acid or coal tar are often recommended for mild cases.

Salicylic acid is a peeling agent that can help soften scales, making them easier to remove. Coal tar products can help reduce inflammation, itching, and scaling by slowing skin growth.

If OTC shampoos fail to provide relief, stronger prescription-strength shampoos and medications may be recommended by your healthcare provider.

These may include shampoos containing higher concentrations of salicylic acid or coal tar, as well as corticosteroids, vitamin D analogs, or topical retinoids.

In addition to topical treatments, phototherapy, or light therapy, may be recommended in some cases. This involves exposing the scalp to controlled amounts of natural or artificial light to help reduce inflammation and scaling.

If all else fails, systemic medications, such as biologics or oral medications, may be recommended by a healthcare provider. These medications work throughout the body to help reduce inflammation and improve symptoms.

It’s important to work closely with your healthcare provider to determine the best treatment plan for your individual needs and to monitor any potential side effects from medications.

3. Hives

Hives, also known as urticaria, is a skin condition that can cause an itchy scalp. Hives are raised, red welts that can occur anywhere on the body, including the scalp. When hives occur on the scalp, they can be very itchy and uncomfortable.

When hives occur on the scalp, they can cause intense itching, which can be difficult to relieve. Scratching the scalp can further irritate the skin and worsen the itching, which can create a cycle of discomfort.

How To Treat Hives

If you are suffering from hives, you can try several treatment options to relieve your symptoms. The first thing you should do is avoid scratching or rubbing the affected area as this can aggravate the hives and spread them further.

Over-the-counter antihistamines can provide some relief by suppressing the histamine response that causes the hives. You can also use topical creams that contain hydrocortisone to reduce itching, inflammation, and redness.

These creams can be applied directly to the affected area, but be sure to follow the instructions on the package.

If your scalp hives do not improve with over-the-counter treatments, it’s important to see a healthcare provider. They may prescribe a stronger antihistamine medication or a topical cream with a higher concentration of hydrocortisone.

In some cases, they may also recommend oral steroids or other medications to control your symptoms.

It’s important to identify and avoid any triggers that may be causing your scalp hives. These can include certain foods, medications, or environmental factors like pollen or pet dander.

By avoiding triggers and following a treatment plan, you can manage your scalp hives and prevent them from recurring.

4. Hormonal Changes

Hormonal changes can cause dry and itchy scalp because they can affect the production of oil in the scalp. For example, during puberty, the increase in androgen hormones can stimulate the production of sebum, which is the oil that is naturally produced by the scalp to lubricate and moisturize the hair and skin.

However, during menopause or postpartum, the decrease in estrogen levels can lead to a reduction in sebum production, which can cause the scalp to become dry and itchy. In addition, hormonal changes can also affect the immune system, which can lead to inflammation and itching of the scalp.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Moisturizing Your Natural Hair

How To Treat

The best way to get rid of this condition is to address the underlying hormonal issue. It’s important to talk to your healthcare provider about your symptoms to determine the best course of action.

5. Ringworm

Ringworm, also known as tinea capitis, is a fungal infection that can affect the scalp and cause dry, itchy skin. The infection is caused by a type of fungus called dermatophytes, which can grow on the scalp and cause inflammation and irritation.

As the fungus grows, it can cause scaling and redness of the scalp, which can lead to dryness and itching. The itching can be intense and may cause the scalp to become sore or tender to the touch. In some cases, there may also be hair loss or broken hairs in the affected areas.

Ringworm of the scalp is more common in children, but can also affect adults. It is usually spread through direct contact with an infected person or animal, or through contact with contaminated objects such as combs, brushes, or hats.

How to Treat

Treatment for scalp ringworm usually requires prescription antifungal medication, such as terbinafine or griseofulvin.

These medications work by killing the fungi responsible for the infection. In addition to taking antifungal medication, it’s important to keep the scalp clean and dry to prevent the infection from spreading or recurring.

You may need to use medicated shampoos that contain antifungal agents, such as ketoconazole or selenium sulfide, to help eliminate the infection.

It’s important to follow your healthcare provider’s instructions carefully and continue treatment for the full course of medication, even if your symptoms improve.

If left untreated, scalp ringworm can lead to more serious complications, such as secondary bacterial infections or permanent hair loss. If you suspect you have scalp ringworm, it’s important to seek prompt medical attention from a healthcare provider.

6. Over Washing or Under Washing Hair

Over washing or under washing hair can both contribute to a dry and itchy scalp. Here’s how:

Over washing hair: Washing your hair too frequently or using harsh shampoos can strip the scalp of its natural oils, leading to dryness and irritation. When the scalp becomes dry, it can also become itchy and uncomfortable. Additionally, over washing can disrupt the natural balance of bacteria on the scalp, which can lead to an overgrowth of harmful bacteria that can further irritate the skin.

Under washing hair: Not washing your hair frequently enough can also contribute to a dry and itchy scalp. When oils and dead skin cells accumulate on the scalp, they can create an environment that is ripe for fungal and bacterial growth. This can cause inflammation and irritation, leading to a dry and itchy scalp. Additionally, not washing your hair can lead to the buildup of hair care products, which can also contribute to dryness and itchiness.

What to Do

If you’re over-washing your hair, try reducing the frequency of your washes. Your scalp produces natural oils that keep your hair and scalp moisturized, and over-washing can strip away these oils, leading to dryness and itchiness.

If you find that your hair gets oily quickly, try using a dry shampoo in between washes to absorb excess oil without drying out your scalp.

On the other hand, if you’re under-washing your hair, it’s important to clean your scalp and hair regularly to prevent the buildup of oils and dirt that can also cause dryness and itching. Try using a gentle, moisturizing shampoo and conditioner that are free of harsh chemicals, and make sure to massage your scalp thoroughly when shampooing to promote blood circulation and improve scalp health.

Lastly, incorporating a regular scalp massage with natural oils such as coconut oil or jojoba oil can also help to moisturize and soothe the scalp. Just apply a small amount to your fingertips and massage into your scalp for a few minutes before washing your hair.

Remember, finding the right balance between washing and not washing your hair is different for everyone, so don’t be afraid to experiment and see what works best for you. And don’t worry, a dry and itchy scalp due to over-washing or under-washing is a common issue that can be easily resolved with a few simple adjustments to your hair care routine.

7. Weather Changes

During the colder months, the air tends to be drier, which can lead to a loss of moisture from the skin and scalp. This can cause the scalp to become dry, itchy, and uncomfortable. Additionally, when the air is dry, it can cause static electricity, which can further exacerbate dryness and itching.

On the other hand, during the hotter months, excessive sweating can also contribute to a dry and itchy scalp. When sweat accumulates on the scalp, it can create an environment that is conducive to fungal and bacterial growth, leading to irritation and inflammation.

What To Do

Weather changes can cause your scalp to become dry and itchy, and finding relief can be challenging. However, there are several ways to alleviate the discomfort.

One option is to switch to a gentler shampoo that’s specifically formulated for dry or sensitive scalps. Avoid using hot water, which can further dry out your scalp, and instead opt for lukewarm water. After shampooing, consider using a conditioner to help restore moisture to your scalp and hair.

Another effective treatment is to use a scalp oil or serum that contains natural ingredients such as coconut oil, tea tree oil, or aloe vera. These oils can help soothe inflammation and provide moisture to the scalp.

You can also try using a humidifier in your home to add moisture to the air, especially during the winter months when the air tends to be drier. If you spend a lot of time outdoors, consider wearing a hat or using a scarf to protect your scalp from the elements.

Is There Eany Home Remedies For Treating Dry And Itchy Scalp

Yes, there are several home remedies for treating dry and itchy scalp, including:

  1. Aloe vera: Aloe vera is known for its moisturizing and soothing properties. Applying fresh aloe vera gel on the scalp can help reduce itchiness and inflammation.
  2. Coconut oil: Coconut oil is an excellent natural moisturizer that can help soothe dry and itchy scalp. Massage warm coconut oil onto your scalp and leave it on for at least 30 minutes before washing it off with a gentle shampoo.
  3. Tea tree oil: Tea tree oil has anti-inflammatory and antifungal properties that can help alleviate scalp itchiness and flakiness. Mix a few drops of tea tree oil with a carrier oil like coconut oil and apply it to your scalp. Leave it on for 15-20 minutes before washing it off.
  4. Apple cider vinegar: Apple cider vinegar has natural anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that can help soothe an itchy scalp. Mix equal parts of apple cider vinegar and water and apply it to your scalp with a cotton ball. Leave it on for 15-20 minutes before washing it off with a gentle shampoo.
  5. Baking soda: Baking soda can help exfoliate the scalp and remove dead skin cells, which can contribute to itchiness and flakiness. Mix a tablespoon of baking soda with water to make a paste, and apply it to your scalp. Leave it on for a few minutes before washing it off with water.
  6. Witch hazel: Witch hazel is a natural astringent that can help reduce inflammation and soothe an itchy scalp. Mix a few drops of witch hazel with water and apply it to your scalp using a cotton ball. Leave it on for 10-15 minutes before washing it off.
  7. Yogurt: Yogurt is a natural moisturizer that can help soothe dry and itchy scalp. Apply plain yogurt to your scalp and leave it on for 15-20 minutes before washing it off with a gentle shampoo.
  8. Honey: Honey has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce itchiness and dandruff on the scalp. Mix equal parts of honey and water and apply it to your scalp. Leave it on for 30 minutes before washing it off with a gentle shampoo.

What Preventive Measures Can You Follow For Dry And Itchy Scalp?

Preventing dry and itchy scalp involves some simple lifestyle changes and good hair care habits. Here are some preventive measures you can follow:

  • Harsh shampoos can strip your scalp of its natural oils, leading to dryness and itching. Choose a mild shampoo that is gentle on your scalp.
  • A good conditioner can help hydrate your scalp and prevent dryness. Apply it only to the ends of your hair and avoid the scalp to prevent build-up.
  • Avoid using hot water to wash your hair as it can strip away natural oils from your scalp.
  • Limit your use of hair styling products, such as gels, mousses, and sprays, as they can clog hair follicles and cause scalp irritation.
  • Use a wide-tooth comb to detangle your hair, starting from the ends and working your way up to the roots.
  • Protect your scalp from the sun by wearing a hat or using a sunscreen spray on your parting.
  • Avoid sharing combs, brushes, and hats with others to prevent the spread of infections like lice or fungi.
  • Manage stress through meditation, exercise, or other stress-relieving activities, as stress can trigger scalp inflammation and hair loss.
  • Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption as they can lead to scalp inflammation and hair loss.
  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet that includes foods rich in vitamins and minerals like zinc, biotin, and iron, which are essential for healthy hair growth.

When to See a Doctor

If your dry and itchy scalp persists despite trying various remedies or if it’s accompanied by severe symptoms such as bleeding, swelling, or hair loss, it’s essential to seek the advice of a dermatologist.

Other signs that you should consult a dermatologist include:

  • Rashes or blisters on the scalp.
  • Symptoms that affect other parts of the body, such as joint pain, fever, or fatigue.
  • Sudden or severe itching, redness, or inflammation on the scalp.
  • Worsening of the symptoms or failure of the over-the-counter remedies to provide relief

A dermatologist can diagnose the underlying cause of your dry and itchy scalp and provide a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs. They may recommend prescription medications or topical treatments to manage the condition effectively. In some cases, a skin biopsy or other diagnostic tests may be necessary to rule out other conditions.

Remember, early diagnosis and treatment can prevent further complications and help restore your scalp’s health and comfort.


Can Itchy and Dry Scalp Cause Hair Loss ?

Yes, dry and itchy scalp can cause hair loss. When the scalp is dry and itchy, it can become inflamed and irritated, which can damage the hair follicles and weaken the hair strands. This can lead to hair loss and thinning.
Additionally, when the scalp is dry and flaky, it can create a barrier that prevents new hair from growing, which can also contribute to hair loss. It’s important to address the underlying cause of dry and itchy scalp to prevent hair loss and promote healthy hair growth. If you are experiencing hair loss or thinning, it’s best to consult with a dermatologist or healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Can Stress Cause a Dry And Itchy Scalp?

Yes, stress can cause a dry and itchy scalp. When you are stressed, your body produces more cortisol, a hormone that can affect the health of your skin and scalp. Increased cortisol levels can cause inflammation and reduced blood flow to your scalp, leading to dryness, itchiness, and other scalp conditions like dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis.

Can Diet Affect My Scalp Health?

A healthy diet rich in vitamins and nutrients can help promote scalp health. Foods such as salmon, nuts, spinach, and eggs are rich in vitamins and minerals that can help nourish the scalp and prevent dryness and itching.

Abhijit Sarkar

Abhijit Sarkar

Abhijit Sarkar is a passionate automobile engineer and part-time content writer. With his deep interest in skincare and hair care, he brings a unique perspective to the world of beauty. Abhijit's expertise lies in dissecting the science behind various hair and skin problems, providing effective solutions, and sharing practical tips for a healthy and radiant appearance. As a meticulous researcher, he delves into the intricacies of beneficial and harmful ingredients, empowering readers to make informed choices. Through his engaging articles, Abhijit aims to simplify the complexities of hair and skincare, helping readers unlock their true beauty potential.

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