Common Causes Of An Itchy Scalp & Ways To Prevent/Treat It

itchy scalp
Common Causes Of An Itchy Scalp. Photo by Vladimir Gjorgiev


An itchy scalp is the most common hair care complaint we hear. The skin on the rest of the body may be fine, but the scalp seems to suffer. After all, when was the last time you gave your scalp the same care and attention you give to your face, body and hair? The scalp is skin too, and the condition of this is linked to the condition of our hair, so how we feed and nourish it is vital. Below we share the primary causes of an itchy scalp and how you can give it the TLC it deserves.


You might also like: A Healthy Scalp Is Skincare For Heads



  • The most common cause is seborrheic dermatitis, or as we all know it, dandruff. Dandruff is an overgrowth of yeast on the scalp which can be caused by the scalp being too dry, oily hair or a skin condition. The skin cells on the scalp shed and replace themselves too quickly, resulting in a buildup of dead skin cells and causes an irritated, itchy, flaky scalp.
  • You may have a naturally dry scalp, eczema or psoriasis.
  • We all know that stress or anxiety can have an impact on the health of our skin – the scalp included.
  • Hormonal changes during the menopause can cause a range of skin complaints on the face, body and scalp. As the levels of estrogen begin to decline, there is a decrease in natural oils in the skin leaving the skin drier, thinner and sometimes sensitive to hair care products; resulting in inflammation to the skin and itchiness.
  • The water in your shower is too hot. Hot water opens up the pores in the skin on the scalp and completely washes out any natural oil, causing skin redness and dryness. It also causes hair to become brittle and prone to breakage.
  • Products containing perfumes or sodium lauryl sulfate/sodium laureth sulfate (SLS) as these can strip the scalp and hair of natural oils, making the scalp dry, tight and irritated. Remember, even products you apply to the ends only (such as hair styling products) can make their way onto the scalp.
  • An allergic reaction to an ingredient in your shampoo/conditioner or to any medication you are on. If an allergen or irritant is absorbed into the skin, the skin reacts by triggering its immune system. The scalp becomes red, inflamed and itchy but this is the skin’s way of trying to kill off the allergen or irritant.
  • Not washing products out properly. A product build-up can trap and lock in allergens and irritants.
  • Holding the hair-dryer too close to the scalp. Close heat exposure will dry out and burn the skin, causing redness, inflammation and itchiness.
  • Burnt scalp due to too much sun exposure – the scalp isn’t an area we commonly protect with an SPF, leaving it vulnerable to UVA and UVB rays.



  1. Look at the ingredients in your hair-care products. Although many anti-dandruff shampoos have antimicrobial and antifungal properties, they do contain SLS. Discover the best natural hair care products free from sulphates and silicones in our post here.
  2. Reduce the number of times you wash your hair per week, and make sure all products are washed out fully.
  3. Massage the skin on the scalp to release more natural oils and to boost circulation.
  4. Use nourishing oils like our Scalp Oil as a pre-shampoo treatment.
  5. This is a hard one to do but try to avoid scratching the scalp even if it is itchy.
  6. Regularly brush your hair throughout the day to remove dead skin cells. Don’t forget to keep cleaning those hairbrushes though!
  7. Practise stress-relieving techniques such as meditation and journaling.
  8. Eat a balanced and varied diet. Eating food rich in omega-3 fatty acids will help improve the skin’s moisture levels as well as reducing inflammation.
  9. Drink more water. Water is essential for hydrated skin.
  10. Wear a hat in the sun and/or use an SPF designed for scalps.



“This issue – expressed by family, friends, and customers alike – is something I have personally had issues with in the past. This has inspired me to develop a scalp oil which is an evolution of my mum’s family recipe and works wonders for the health of my scalp and in turn the health of my hair” – Sofia


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