Every one of us at some phase of life might have gone through the itchy scalp problem. Some people experience itchy scalp seasonally, mostly in the winter season, whereas, some face this problem continuously for the whole year. Seborrheic dermatitis is the primary cause of itchy scalp and leads to dandruff. The skin over the scalp begins to itch with flakes, giving symptoms like redness, swelling, and even balding.
Usually, a functional variant of anti-dandruff shampoo will solve this problem. But if this problem persists, then you should find out what is the cause behind it. Sometimes yeast infection or bacterial infection can occur over scalp and for this antimicrobial measures needs to be taken.
Itchy scalp causes
1. Seborrheic dermatitis
Seborrheic dermatitis has been the leading cause diagnosed with the itchy scalp condition. The offending reason behind seborrheic dermatitis is a yeast infection, which is further caused by Malassezia.
Yeast, also known as Candida albicans, is a fungus that is present in the human body. Whenever there is an imbalance produced in our body, these yeast start multiplying at a faster rate.
This overgrowth leads to an immune reaction which results in inflammation. Inflammation produces anywhere in the body leads to itching sensation.
Lice infestation is the second most common reason contributing to an itchy scalp. Lice are typically parasites that tend to occur in the areas of the body covered with hair. It spreads on contact with the infected person.
These parasites feed on by drawing blood from the scalp, which causes acute itching around that area. The experience is similar to that of a mosquito bite. Our body reacts to the saliva of these parasites, causing itching and inflammation.
Lice spread by laying eggs, known as nits. These eggs attach itself at the base of the hair shaft and do not go away easily. There are several natural methods that you can try to get rid of lice infestation.
3. Allergic reaction
Certain chemicals present in hair products like hair sprays, shampoos and conditioners can cause contact dermatitis. Contact dermatitis can cause acute itching and flaking of the scalp.
You should be able to identify and discontinue the product to avoid any further complication.
4. Autoimmune reaction
People suffering from skin disease, such as psoriasis have shown reddish, elevated, scaly patches on the scalp (1).
The exact cause is unknown, but psoriasis is considered to be hereditary. You should not ignore this skin disease since it can cause some permanent damage.
5. Tinea capitis
Tinea capitis is a fungal infection of the scalp commonly called ringworm. This infection can grow deep within the hair follicles and cause bald patches to appear.
Children around 4 to 15 years of age are most likely to develop tinea capitis of the scalp, and occasionally it can also occur in adults. (2). The fungus spreads in the form of spores which can transmit through contact with an infected person.
How to get rid of itchy scalp naturally?
1. Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil has antifungal, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties and can be used to treat itchy scalp. The active ingredient, terpinene-4-ol, found in tea tree oil penetrates through the hair follicles.
Further, it unclogs the hair follicles from bacteria and dead skin cells, which are nothing but dandruff (3). The natural disinfectant and antiseptic property of tea tree oil help in killing germs that cause scalp and hair problems.
The anti-inflammatory properties of tea tree oil help in reducing the swelling and itching associated with the condition. Tea tree oil is mixed with a carrier oil, like coconut oil or olive oil, and applied thrice weekly till the problem subsides.
2. Fullers earth
Fuller’s earth has oil-absorbing, cleansing, and antiseptic properties. Fuller’s earth absorbs the oil, grease, and dirt which causes dandruff. It also facilitates blood circulation in and around the scalp, helping it in the healing process.
3. Lemon juice
Lemon juice has antifungal properties. The antioxidants help in reversing the damage caused to the scalp and promote its healing. The citric acid found in lemon juice balances the scalp’s pH level and sheds away dead skin cells.
4. Avocado oil
Avocado oil has recently been proven to be very useful in treating seborrheic dermatitis. (4). It helps in the deep conditioning of your scalp and hair. Avocado is also rich in antioxidants which helps fight the free radicals damage that can lead to acute hair fall.
Apple cider vinegar helps in balancing the pH of the scalp. A balanced pH can change the holistic living environment of bacteria and fungus, making them difficult to survive (5).
Also, apple cider vinegar has anti-inflammatory properties which help in reducing the itching and swelling associated with seborrheic dermatitis.
6. Coconut oil
Coconut oil has antifungal properties. It helps in treating the dandruff problem by killing the fungus that causes itchy scalp. The fatty acids, lauric, caprylic and capric acid, found in coconut oil penetrates deep into the hair shaft and scalp.
It helps the coconut oil to kill the fungus which causes dandruff. Coconut oil also moisturizes the scalp and removes the dandruff flakes. Its healing properties offer a soothing effect to the irritated and itchy scalp.
Aspirin contains salicylic acid as an active component, which is also found in most anti-dandruff shampoos and conditioners. This salicylate prevents the flaking of scalp tissue and keeps the irritation of the scalp to a minimum.
Garlic has potent antimicrobial properties. It also contains active ingredient selenium, which helps in balancing the scalp ph and maintains scalp health.
You can use garlic in conjunction with honey as a mask. The antimicrobial properties of honey help in fighting the infection-causing bacteria. In the end, relieving you from the itchy scalp.
Final words on itchy scalp
Identifying the reason behind the itchy scalp will help solve it more efficiently. Having a diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids, incorporating seafood, nuts, and seeds will maintain a healthy scalp.
Try and avoid sharing your combs, hair ties, and towels with other people. Also, clean your combs often thoroughly. Occasional, you should rinse your hair from apple cider vinegar, which is also an efficient way of preventing any form of scalp contamination.
You can prevent any form of bacterial and fungal infection by maintaining proper personal hygiene. During the winter season, it is advised to hydrate the scalp with hair masks and oils, which is an efficient way to prevent flaking. For people suffering from psoriasis and eczema, proper treatment under the consultation of a dermatologist will avert balding and damage to the scalp.