Dry and itchy scalp:
Symptoms, causes and solutions
What is it?
WHAT IS A DRY AND ITCHY SCALP?
- If the itchiness causes you to scratch, your scalp may become inflamed.
When your scalp’s natural moisture balance is disturbed, an itchy, dry scalp can be the result. A dry and itchy scalp can be associated with ageing or skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis or psoriasis, and its symptoms can range from very mild to extreme. A dry, itchy scalp can cause significant distress and discomfort, and hence cause your skin to become irritated or inflamed.
MAJOR CAUSES OF A DRY AND ITCHY SCALP
- A. Moisture is lost, causing dryness
B. Microinflammations cause further irritation
C. Scalp becomes itchy
Internal factors that can cause a dry and itchy scalp include:
Skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis or psoriasis
Age – the older you get, the dryer your skin becomes
Physical or emotional stress
External factors that can cause a dry, itchy scalp include:
Changes in temperature or seasons
Lifestyle factors, such as poor diet or smoking
Cosmetic shampoos, soaps and hair treatments
Once your scalp’s natural moisture is lost, its protective layer can become compromised. This can allow harmful substances to easily penetrate the skin, leading to microinflammations of the scalp. These microinflammations can cause your scalp to become even more irritated – leading to itching, redness, and a sensation of tautness.
MICROINFLAMMATIONS AND YOUR SCALP
What are microinflammations? They’re mild inflammations of the skin. They’re so mild, in fact, that even clinical testing won’t pick them up. But if we study skin tissue encountering microinflammations, we can detect the presence of inflammatory immune cells – in other words, the skin is responding to irritation with inflammation and thereby attempting to repair itself. If these skin cells are then subjected to further irritation, the skin can flip into a “true” inflammatory response.
How are they related to scalp conditions? There’s growing evidence that microinflammations of the scalp are involved in most common scalp disorders – from thinning hair and dandruff, to scalp dryness, itchiness and sensitivity.
If you experience sudden hair loss or brittle hair, you may have an underlying health problem such as thyroid disease, iron deficiency, or an autoimmune disease. Some medications can also cause hair loss. Contact a dermatologist in all instances to get further information.
- Natural remedies such as oils haven’t proven to be effective treatments for a dry and itchy scalp.
Vinegars, natural oils, and even athlete’s foot spray are among the remedies that have been claimed to treat an itchy and dry scalp. But there’s not much evidence to support these remedies.
DO YOU HAVE A DRY AND ITCHY SCALP?
You may have a dry and itchy scalp if…
You’re frequently scratching your scalp: Some people have even reported scratching in their sleep.
You’ve recently been exposed to one or more of the causes listed above: Especially if your symptoms developed soon afterwards.
You may have another scalp condition if…
You have white flakes or yellow scales on your scalp and hair: You may have dandruff or seborrhoeic dermatitis.
You have red, scaly, silvery-looking patches on your scalp: You may have psoriasis.
See your doctor or your dermatologist if you’re concerned, your symptoms are severe, or your scalp becomes inflamed, weepy or sore.