Causes & Remedies for Itchy Scalp

a woman scratching her scalp

Itchy Scalp

Scalp pruritus, known as itchy scalp, is an ordinary condition. There’s a wide range of causes. Dandruff and an inflammatory skin condition called seborrheic dermatitis are the most common reasons for itchy scalp.

Causes of Itchy Scalp

Seborrheic dermatitis can be the effect of stress, seasonal changes, changing hormones, or an overgrowth of yeast on the skin. Dandruff can be caused by a scalp that’s too dry, oily hair, and multiple skin conditions.

Other causes of itchy scalp include:

  • autoimmune disorders, such as psoriasis
  • fungal infections, such as ringworm
  • allergic reaction to certain products
  • eczema
  • atopic dermatitis
  • head lice
  • stress or anxiety
  • diabetes
  • herpes zoster, or shingles

Some causes of itchy scalp require medical treatment. See your doctor if your symptoms:

  • last longer than a week
  • include pain, sores, or swelling
  • intense itching that interferes with your sleep 

Home remedies for itchy scalp

Multiple home remedies may be effective for an itchy and oily scalp that doesn’t require medical treatment.

Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar consists of antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antifungal properties. It can help to lessen the itching caused by dry skin. Try diluting apple cider vinegar in warm water and utilizing it as a rinse after shampooing to relieve dandruff and an itchy scalp.

Organic coconut oil

Organic coconut oil is naturally pulled from mature coconuts. It contains lauric acid, a saturated fat that has antimicrobial properties which help the skin soak coconut oil efficiently. Hair oiling benefits make it a relaxing treatment for itchy scalp.

Coconut oil scalp massage may be useful for itchy scalps caused by eczema. It may also help tackle head lice. One study analyzed the recovery power of coconut oil mixed with anise. Researchers found this combination to be additionally successful at delousing and eliminating scalp itch than permethrin, a medicine used to treat lice.

Peppermint oil

Peppermint oil may be potent at reducing dandruff and comforting the scalp, soothing the itch. Try diluting it with other carrier oils, such as olive oil, and massaging it into the scalp before shampooing. You can also make use of peppermint tea as a rinse after shampooing your hair.


It may not surprise you that activities which reduce stress, like meditation, may be effective at eliminating itchy scalps caused by anxiety. It may also aid with itching due to eczema.

A study on meditation pointed out that the perception of itching may be enhanced by this age-old practice by giving a coping process and a sense of control. Meditation can be tried alone or in conjunction with other itchy dry scalp remedies. 

Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil that is easily available has antimicrobial, antifungal, and antiseptic properties. It also has anti-inflammatory effects. Tea tree oil can be itchy to the skin, so it’s vital to use it sparingly or dilute it before use.

Try mixing 10-20 drops of tea tree oil into a gentle shampoo or mix it with olive oil and massage it directly into your scalp. Tea tree oil can help reduce or eliminate itching linked with dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, and head lice.

Zinc pyrithione shampoo

A large study found that people with dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis have more than double the quantity of histamine on their head skin than those without itchy scalps. The study examined the effect of shampoos containing zinc pyrithione on histamine levels. Participators with scalp itch who used zinc pyrithione shampoo had a significant reduction in histamine levels and itch intensity.

These types of shampoos are easily accessible in pharmacies and other retail stores. The quantity of zinc pyrithione in each shampoo varies by brand, so you may require to experiment with several to find the one which works best for you.

Some people may find that daily shampooing provides the utmost itch relief. Others may find it too drying for the scalp. They may find lesser relief of scalp itch from shampooing their hair every two or three days rather than daily.

Salicylic acid

Shampoos containing salicylic acid are efficient at treating itchy scalp caused by psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis. Salicylic acid has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. It’s also able to prompt exfoliation of the skin, which may make it especially effective for the scaly, itchy patches linked with psoriasis.

Shampoos containing this component may vary by strength, so make sure to read labels and follow the application instructions given. Some salicylic acid shampoos need light massage into the scalp during use, repeated daily or almost daily. Shampoos with this component can be found in health food stores, online, and in pharmacies.

Salicylic acid shouldn’t be used by people who are having aspirin allergies.

Ketoconazole shampoo

Ketoconazole is a broad-range, antifungal agent. It’s potent at reducing Malassezia yeast. This is a fungus that may become overabundant on the scalp and cause Malassezia folliculitis, or scalp psoriasis. It’s accessible by prescription and also as a component in some shampoos.

Ketoconazole shampoos may help to reduce dandruff, scaly patches, and the itch caused by seborrheic dermatitis. Shampoos may hold 1 or 2 per cent of ketoconazole as an active component. They may need different use methods, such as daily shampooing or shampooing every other day.

Selenium sulfide

Selenium sulfide is an anti-infective drug used to treat seborrheic dermatitis. It works by declining the growth of yeast on the scalp. It’s available as a shampoo and lotion. It may be either found in commercially prepared products or prescribed by your doctor.

The suggested dosage for prescription-strength selenium sulfide is biweekly for the first two weeks, followed by once a week use for over one month. However, make sure to follow the label instructions, if you’re using a store-purchased product bearing selenium sulfide. If any irritation occurs immediately stop using it.

Take Away

Scalp itch is a usual complaint with many causes. It can frequently be treated at home, but sometimes requires medical treatment. However, talk to your doctor about the underlying cause of itchy scalp and how best to treat it, if your symptoms don’t clear out smoothly or within a few weeks.