An itchy scalp is an irritating problem that can occur for a number of reasons. Chronic scalp itching could indicate an allergy to foods or hair care products. Scalp itching can also be a side effect of certain medications. The scalp also flakes and becomes itchy as a result of irritation. Individuals should be sure to check the ingredients in their shampoos and conditioners to make sure they contain no harsh chemicals that could cause itching and redness. Washing hair with very hot water can lead to an itchy scalp as well.
Here is a guide to popular remedies for an itchy scalp.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil, which can be found at most health food stores, is an essential oil with antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties. The oil affects the scalp and gets rid of toxins and debris that may be causing scalp itching. The essential oil also has anti-inflammatory properties and can soothe the redness and swelling of an itchy scalp. Since tea tree oil is so strong, individuals must dilute it before applying it to their scalp. Adding a few drops to shampoo is ideal. Individuals can also mix it with a carrier oil like olive or coconut oil before using it as a scalp treatment. Individuals will likely notice their scalp feels considerably better and their dandruff will be reduced. This is also an effective treatment for seborrheic dermatitis and even head lice.
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Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is another natural remedy that helps remove fungus and infection from the scalp. The vinegar can also reduce scalp inflammation and get rid of redness that sometimes forms on the scalp due to dermatitis or psoriasis. Apple cider vinegar has quite a strong smell, so mixing it with warm water and rinsing the hair thoroughly after shampooing is like the best way to use this natural remedy. Apple cider vinegar helps reduce itching and discomfort and helps keep an infection from settling onto the scalp, and is an affordable treatment that is safe to use each time individuals wash their hair. Using this remedy regularly can also prevent damage and scalp irritation.
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Peppermint oil can immediately make the scalp feel refreshed and invigorated, as this oil has a soothing effect on the scalp and calm down itching. Peppermint essential oil also has a calming effect on the nervous system, so individuals will find they feel better overall. Individuals can add peppermint oil to shampoo to wash their hair. Adding a few drops to olive oil and using this as a scalp treatment after washing and conditioning their hair can work as well. If peppermint oil is too strong, they should brew a cup of peppermint tea and use the tea as a hair rinse after the tea cools.
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This natural oil is taken from mature coconuts. Coconut oil is a reliable source of lauric acid, which is an antimicrobial, saturated fat. Lauric acid also works to make the skin effectively absorb coconut oil, which makes the oil particularly soothing. Coconut oil also has a neutral smell and isn't harsh, so individuals won't need to dilute it before applying it to their scalp. This oil can also be used for an itchy scalp that occurs due to eczema. Placing the oil on the scalp can prevent and reduce head lice as well. If coconut oil is mixed with anise, the combination will help to eliminate scalp irritation caused by lice, according to a study conducted in 2010.
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Specially Formulated Shampoos
According to a large study, individuals who have seborrheic dermatitis or dandruff have high amounts of histamine stores in the skin on their heads. This means shampoos containing ingredients like zinc pyrithione can reduce histamine levels, leading to a scalp free of irritation. Individuals can find these shampoos at their local drug store or grocery retailer. Shampoos that contain ketoconazole is another remedy for an itchy scalp, as ketoconazole removes fungus from the scalp and reduces the amount of Malassezia yeast on the scalp, which can cause itching and lead to psoriasis. This is one of the specially formulated shampoos that is usually available only by prescription. Individuals may also want to use salicylic acid shampoo to get rid of an itchy scalp, especially if they have psoriasis or seborrheic dermatitis. Salicylic acid makes the scalp softer, gets rid of dry skin with gentle exfoliation and removes harmful bacteria for a healthy, itch-free scalp.
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Switching To Hypoallergenic Products
An itchy scalp sometimes develops due to an allergy to ingredients in store-bought shampoos and hair care products. In these cases, switching to hypoallergenic products may help alleviate itching. Hypoallergenic shampoos, conditioners, and styling products are designed to be gentle on sensitive skin. They are usually free from fragrances, harsh detergents, parabens, and other ingredients that could cause irritation. Many hypoallergenic products are organic, and they may contain soothing ingredients like lavender, tea tree oil, and jojoba. Haircare products formulated for infants are typically some of the purest and most hypoallergenic products on the market, and these may be especially beneficial for adults struggling with significant scalp itching. Patients might need to try several different hypoallergenic products to find the combination that works best for their needs.
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Head Lice Medication
Patients who have head lice will often experience severe itching. The itching occurs due to an allergy to louse saliva. It normally starts two to six weeks after the infestation and typically affects the scalp, neck, and ears. Patients may also notice lice on the scalp, and lice eggs could be present on the hair shaft. Dandruff, scabs, and product residue could be mistaken for lice, so patients must see a doctor to confirm a lice infestation. If the infestation is confirmed, physicians often recommend starting treatment with an over-the-counter head lice medication. These medications kill lice and some of their eggs, but they may not kill eggs that have been laid recently. Examples of over-the-counter lice medications include permethrin and pyrethrin with additives. The medicines may cause scalp redness and itching. After the first treatment, patients may need a second treatment roughly nine days later to kill all of the lice. If over-the-counter options are ineffective, doctors can prescribe ivermectin, malathion, or spinosad.
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Colloidal oatmeal is produced by grinding and boiling oats so they can be evenly dispersed in water. Research suggests this type of oatmeal helps form a barrier against irritants, and it can be particularly effective at soothing scalp itching and irritation. To use colloidal oatmeal as an itchy scalp treatment, patients should mix one-third of a cup of colloidal oatmeal into a pitcher of warm water. Next, they should wash their hair with a hypoallergenic shampoo. After rinsing off the shampoo, the colloidal oatmeal mixture can be massaged into the hair and scalp. A shower cap should be placed over the head for fifteen minutes, and the oatmeal can then be rinsed off. Patients should allow their hair to air dry after this process.
Some might prefer to make a homemade shampoo with colloidal oatmeal. To do this, patients should begin by grinding one cup of long-cooking oatmeal (not instant oatmeal) in a blender or food processor until it becomes a fine powder. The powder should be placed in a bowl and combined with two cups of boiling water. This mixture needs to be stirred until the oatmeal has completely dissolved. After the mixture sits for five to ten minutes, it should be strained through a sieve or coffee filter. The filtered liquid should be saved, and any remaining solids can be thrown away. To make the shampoo, patients need to add one teaspoon of lemon juice and one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to the filtered liquid. Individuals with color-treated hair should omit the lemon juice. If desired, ten to twenty drops of essential oil can be added. After stirring the liquid together, it should be poured into an empty bottle. Patients should wet their hair with water before applying the mixture, and it needs to sit on the hair for at least two minutes before being rinsed off.
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Many patients experience scalp itching as a result of seborrheic dermatitis, and studies suggest olive oil could help relieve this symptom and loosen scales on the skin's surface. Patients may want to choose high-quality olive oil for this purpose; it is important to check the ingredients list to confirm the olive oil is pure and free from any other oils. Before applying the oil to the scalp, patients should warm it in their hands for a few minutes. It can then be massaged into the scalp, and it should be left on for at least two to three hours. After rinsing off the oil, experts recommend that patients with seborrheic dermatitis wash their hair with a medicated shampoo containing salicylic acid or coal tar. Individuals with no known scalp conditions should wash their hair with hypoallergenic shampoo, and they can use medicated shampoos if they wish.
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Avoid Using Sulfates
Sulfates are detergents that are commonly used in store-bought shampoos. They are used to remove oil and dirt from hair, but they also strip the hair and scalp of natural moisture and lipids. Once the scalp's lipid barrier is removed, parabens and artificial fragrances that may be present in the shampoo can enter the top layers of skin on the scalp, and this may produce irritation. To avoid using sulfates, patients need to carefully read the full ingredients list for any shampoos and hair care products they are considering. Sulfates are often hidden under names such as disodium laureth sulfosuccinate, sodium lauroyl isethionate, and sodium lauroyl taurate. Most organic shampoos are sulfate-free, and patients could also consider making their own shampoo.