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Does Dandruff Itch? Here Is Why You Have an Itchy Scalp

3 mins

Andela Patrnogic

Does Dandruff Itch? Here Is Why You Have an Itchy Scalp

Dandruff is a scalp condition in which small visible flaky skin comes off the scalp. It is caused because the topmost layer of the scalp sheds too quickly, which produces a dry, flaky, itchy scalp. 

There can be many different causes of dandruff. Some of the most common ones are fungal infection, excessive sebum production, emotional stress, genetic factors, immune response, nutrition, etc.

While it is true that dandruff causes an itchy scalp, it isn't the only condition to do so. This article will explore the other reasons for itchy scalp and different ways to relieve it.

Table of Contents:

  • Why Do I Have an Itchy Scalp?
  • Reaction to Hair Products
  • Allergic Reaction
  • Hives
  • Head Lice
  • Scabies
  • Scalp Ringworm
  • Scalp Psoriasis
  • Atopic Dermatitis
  • Nerve Conditions
  • How Can I Get Relief from an Itchy Scalp?
  • Essential Oils
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Organic Coconut Oil
  • Shampoos With Specific Ingredients

Why Do I Have an Itchy Scalp?

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, there can be several other reasons for an itchy scalp. 

Some of the most common ones are mentioned below. 

Reaction to Hair Products

Hair products like chemical dyes and bleaches can cause itching and burning sensations on the scalp. Many products contain ingredients that cause dryness and itchiness on the scalp. 

itchy scalp, healthy scalp

Shampoos that contain surfactants like SLS are one such example. 

Or, if you do not rinse the shampoo thoroughly from your hair, that too can cause an itchy scalp.

Allergic Reaction

You may have an allergy to certain hair products because of specific ingredients. 

According to one study, the most common allergens present in shampoos are:

  • fragrance, 
  • cocamidopropyl betaine, 
  • methylchloroisothiazolinone, 
  • propylene glycol, 
  • vitamin E, and
  • parabens.

    Check your hair products for such ingredients.


    Hives are red, scaly, and itchy bumps that form on the skin. It can be caused due to a hair product or other conditions like eczema, psoriasis, etc.

    Head Lice

    Head lice are tiny insects that thrive on the scalp by feeding on human blood. It is common in children and results from the direct transfer of lice from one person's hair to another. 

    They are one of the most common reasons for an itchy scalp.


    It is a condition caused by a small bug called the human itch mite. It causes your scalp to be itchy. You should consult a doctor to treat scabies. 

    Scalp Ringworm

    It is a fungal infection that causes a red and extremely itchy rash.

    Scalp Psoriasis

    Scalp psoriasis is a skin condition that causes red patches, flaky, scaly, and a dry scalp. The itching can range from mild to intense. It can be managed by using medicated or OTC hair products. 

    Atopic Dermatitis

    Atopic dermatitis is a type of eczema, which can develop on the scalp. Like other conditions, its main symptoms are redness, scaly and itchy scalp. 

    One of the main risk factors for this condition is a positive family history. 

    Nerve Conditions

    An intensely itchy scalp that isn't caused due to another skin condition may be a sign of a nerve condition or neuropathy. 

    Conditions like diabetes are one such example.

    How Can I Get Relief from an Itchy Scalp?

    If you have an itchy scalp that does not seem to get any better with time, you should consider consulting a doctor. 

    In the meantime, you can try getting relief by trying the following methods.

    Essential Oils

    Essential oils like tea tree oil and peppermint oil can help relieve an itchy scalp. 

    Tea tree oil has antimicrobial, antifungal, antiseptic, antiviral, insecticidal, and anti-inflammatory properties. According to one study, it can reduce the itching associated with conditions like head lice, dandruff, and seborrheic dermatitis

    WOW Tea Tree Essential Oil

    WOW Tea Tree Essential Oil is a 100% pure oil obtained from the Melaleuca Alternifolia tree. It is beneficial for an itchy scalp. 

    tea tree, essential oil, tea tree essential oil, wow skin science, wow tea tree essential oil, buywow

    You can add about 2 to 4 of this tea tree oil to a carrier oil of your choice, like olive oil. Massage the mixture directly to your scalp. 

    You should do this about once a week for a few weeks and relieve the itchiness and dry scalp.

    Apple Cider Vinegar

    Apple cider vinegar has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antifungal properties, which can help in reducing itchy scalp. 

    It is rich in vitamin B, vitamin C, and other beneficial ingredients which help in gently exfoliating scalp skin. 

    There are two effective ways to use apple cider vinegar for an itchy scalp. You can either dilute it in warm water and massage it on the scalp or choose an apple cider vinegar shampoo. 

    WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo

    WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo is infused with raw apple cider vinegar. It helps in gently clarifying and rebuilding your hair. 

    It breaks down product build-up, fights flakes, deep cleans clogged hair follicles, balances scalp pH levels, and helps strengthen your hair. 

    Plus, it does not contain irritants like sulfates and parabens, so your scalp will thank you.

    apple cider vinegar shampoo, best dandruff shampoo

    Organic Coconut Oil

    Organic coconut oil has antimicrobial properties due to the presence of saturated fat called lauric acid. It soothes the scalp and relieves the itchiness. 

    According to one study, it may also be useful in treating lice when mixed with anise. 

    A hot massage with this oil once a week should relieve the dry and itchy scalp.

    Shampoos With Specific Ingredients

    Look for shampoos with ingredients such as zinc pyrithione, salicylic acid, ketoconazole, or selenium sulfide. 

    Zinc pyrithione is beneficial for people who have an itchy scalp due to allergies because it acts directly on reducing histamine levels. 

    Salicylic acid is beneficial for people who suffer from scalp psoriasis or seborrheic dermatitis. It has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. 

    If you have a fungal infection on the scalp, you should use a shampoo containing the antifungal agent called ketoconazole. 

    Most of these shampoos are available in different strengths, so you may have to experiment a little before finding the one that best suits you. 

    Itchy scalp is a common condition that is caused due to dandruff, lice, or other conditions. Although sometimes it can be treated at home, seeking medical treatment is always the right option; especially if the condition does not resolve on its own in a few weeks.

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