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What are the Different Itching Scalp Causes?

By Meshell Powell
Updated May 17, 2024
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Many people will suffer from an itching scalp on occasion. However, if the itching is persistent, it is wise to consult a doctor for a proper diagnosis. There are several potential itching scalp causes, including dandruff, skin conditions such as psoriasis, and a parasitic condition such as head lice. Treatment varies depending on the reason for the itching but often involves the use of medicated shampoos.

Dandruff is one of the most common itching scalp causes. Dandruff is a skin condition that causes scalp itching and flaking. There are many dandruff shampoos available over the counter, and these shampoos are often enough to keep the dandruff under control. However, if the dandruff does not respond to normal shampoos, a doctor may prescribe prescription-strength shampoos to help ease the symptoms.

Psoriasis of the scalp is another of the more common itching scalp causes. This condition causes itching and thick scaling of the scalp. Medicated shampoos are often used to treat this condition, although in extreme cases steroid medications may be injected directly into the scalp. Oral medications and treatment with ultraviolet light may become necessary in the most extreme cases of scalp psoriasis.

Head lice are among the most dreaded itching scalp causes. The lice are small insects that live on the scalp, easily spreading to other people. Head lice cause intense itching and can also cause small red bumps on the head and neck. The eggs look a bit like dandruff, but they stay stuck to the hair when trying to brush them out. There are several brands of over-the-counter medications available to help to kill the lice, allowing the insects and the eggs to be removed.

Other itching scalp causes can include unwashed hair or sensitivity to perfumes or chemicals in shampoos or other hair-care products. Washing the hair at least once per week may relieve the itching in some patients. For those who are sensitive to certain hair care products, switching to a gentler shampoo or using hypoallergenic hair-care products may prove to be helpful. For those patients who tend to have dry skin, especially on the scalp, it may be helpful to avoid the use of hair dryers.

Stress is one of the more overlooked itching scalp causes. Stress can cause itching all over the body, and the scalp is no exception. Some fungal infections may also cause scalp itching. It is important to see a doctor to find out what is causing the itching and follow medical advice concerning individualized treatment options.

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