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Relief for an Itchy Scalp
The scalp is the soft tissue which covers the cranium. It has five layers which are the hairy skin, subcutaneous layer with blood vessels and nerves, a muscular layer, a loose layer with emissary veins and the 5th layer is called the pericranium, the periosteum which is next to the skull. When your scalp itches intensely one of your first thought is whether you need to wash your hair or whether you have head lice. The truth however is that there are many other causes for an itchy scalp including a bacterial infection, irritation from chemical products, or clogged pores from an excessively oily scalp. You may also have an underlying skin condition. Here are some helpful ways to soothe your skin. Just like the rest of the body, the scalp and hair requires daily care and attention to prevent a series of health-related issues. As soon as a child is old enough to take care of him/herself this has to be taught as part of the personal hygiene routine.
Common causes of itchy scalp
These are a few of the causes of dry and itchy scalp:
Dandruff is an accumulation of dead skin cells. The shedding of the dead skin results in flakes off your scalp, leaving you with unsightly white flakes in your hair and sometimes on your shoulders. Dandruff is thought to be caused by a yeast-like fungus called malassezia. Even though it is present on the scalp of adults, not everyone will develop the dryness and itching. Seborrheic dermatitis is a type of dandruff which causes redness, itching, and flaking. Severe cases are treated with prescription-strength medicated shampoos and steroid creams.
- Psoriasis of the scalp
Scalp psoriasis can cause dandruff-like itching and flaking. Psoriasis happens when the immune system triggers too many skin cells to grow on various parts of the body. That can include your scalp. People with psoriasis may be more likely to get dandruff, but psoriasis is not dandruff.
This skin condition can make your scalp itchy and flaky. It’s most common in babies and children, but anyone can get it. The cause is unknown. Moisturizers and prescription steroid creams can help relieve the symptoms, as can avoiding harsh soaps and scratching.
Itchy Scalp can be triggered or exacerbated by:
o Harsh hair care products including shampoo. It is important to use mild shampoos if you tend to have sensitive skin.
o Stressful events can trigger changes in the skin, hair and nails.
o Poor nutrition with insufficient vitamins from fresh fruits and vegetables can result in unhealthy hair and scalp.
o Cold weather dries out not only the skin but also the scalp and hair. Driness can promote fungal growth.
An experienced dermatologist can usually tell which condition is responsible for the itching and dryness simply by examining the scalp. It may become necessary to do a biopsy of the affected scalp and send the specimen to the lab to detect whether there is a bacterial or fungal infection. Eczema and psoriasis can appear similar but is distinguishable by the trained eye.
There are quite a few home remedies that can alleviate a dry itchy scalp. Usually these are safe to use and will not exacerbate the itching. Many of the products change the pH of the scalp and thus inhibit fungal growth. It is important though to see a doctor if there is no relief after a few days.
- Lemon juice: The juice of lemons has antiseptic properties. Lemon juice can help to ease an itchy scalp. The juice is applied on the scalp and left for about 10 minutes. It is then washed out.
- Baking soda: Baking soda is alkaline and helps to balance the pH of your hair to relieve itching. A paste made with baking soda and water is rubbed onto your scalp. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes and then rinse it out.
- Banana and avocado: This is a curious combination. Two bananas and an avocado are blended and the mixture is rubbed onto the scalp. After 30 minutes it is then rinsed out. Avocado treatment for your hair makes the hair shinier. It also promotes hair growth as well.
- Apple cider vinegar: This works in the same way that lemon juice does. Just put some apple cider vinegar into a spray bottle with some water. Spray it onto your scalp, let it sit for a few minute and then rinse out. (IMPORTANT: Do not leave the Apple Cider vinegar on the scalp for too long, and do not apply more than a few sprays with water, pure Apple Cider Vinegar can induce peeling)
- Coconut oil: This oil alleviates itchy scalp. It is recommended to massage some coconut oil into your scalp, let it sit for a while, and then rinse it out. Coconut oil is secretly one of the best hydration agents you will find period, again rinsing it out is important.
• Chemical shampoos work mostly by reducing the natural fungus on your scalp or by slowing the process of how skin cells die. Select one which has a pH of 4.5-5.
• Shampoos which contain Zinc Pyrithione contain anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. They are helpful in treating a variety of scalp issues including dandruff, psoriasis, eczema and seborrheic dermatitis.
• Polytar shampoo is made from coal tar, cradle oil and pine tar. It is used to treat dandruff, psoriasis and eczema. This medicated shampoo inhibits the growth of excess skin which causes psoriasis.
• Antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) are often helpful in reducing scalp itch.
• Anti-Itch Creams like our own that instantly halts itching by using chemicals that target the nerve endings. Massage the anti-itch cream gently using the tip of your fingers into the scalp.
Tips for healthy Scalp
- Wash your hair daily especially if you have oily hair and scalp
- Avoid hair products with heavy petroleum ingredients
- Brush hair and massage scalp at least once weekly to stimulate the circulation. The scalp has a rich supply of blood vessels and nerves.
- Eat healthy meals daily with generous amounts of fruits and vegetables.
- Drink 6-8 glasses of water
- Manage stress by dealing with heavy workload, delegating and good time management. Practice relaxation techniques such as meditation and yoga.
Do not ignore changes in your skin, hair and scalp which could indicate a more general health issue. Home remedies should only be used for a few days after which a dermatologists should be consulted if there is no improvement in the dryness and itchy scalp.
Want specific tips to handle Eczema related itchy scalp in the long term? Sign up for our Eczema Treatment Course.