An itchy scalp can be irritating and uncomfortable and there are a number of reasons that can be attributed to the development of an itchy scalp. However, with so many causes, a proper diagnosis is beneficial in order to treat your itchy scalp in the most effective way.
At Ahmeys, our trained medical professionals are able to discuss your issue, form a comprehensive diagnosis and offer practical advice and any necessary medication to treat the problem more efficiently.
Common reasons for an itchy scalp include:
- Head lice
Dandruff is a skin condition that causes flakes of skin to appear on the scalp and can make the scalp itchy. Aside from the obvious discomfort, dandruff can be embarrassing for individuals as the flakes can become noticeable as they fall on to your clothing or show up in darker hair.
Dandruff occurs when you produce new skin cells on your scalp too rapidly. The dead skin cells then come away into the hair.
This flaking to the scalp may be due to a number of reasons, such as:
- Seborrhoeic dermatitis – a skin condition often as a result of an overgrowth of yeast on the skin
- Allergic contact dermatitis – a reaction to products that come into contact with the scalp (e.g., hairspray, hair gel, hair dye or mousse).
- Tinea capitis – more commonly known as scalp ringworm, it is a fungal infection that affects the scalp
- Eczema – a skin condition that causes the skin to be dry, flaky, red and itchy (see below for further information)
- Psoriasis – a skin condition that causes flaky and crusty patches of skin covered with silvery scales (see below for further information)
Other factors that worsen dandruff are heat, cold and stress. Additionally, washing your hair too frequently can exacerbate dandruff by irritating the scalp. Alternately, not washing your hair enough can also worsen dandruff as the dead skin cells are left on the scalp and visible in the hair.
The most common treatment for dandruff is anti-dandruff shampoo. There are many to choose from, but you should seek one that contains either zinc pyrithione, salicylic acid, selenium sulphide, ketoconazole or coal tar. In addition to using an anti-dandruff shampoo, it is important to avoid any hair products that you also think may be responsible for dandruff. This will allow your anti-dandruff shampoo to work more effectively.
Ahmeys healthcare professionals are available to offer advice and help you make an informed decision, in order to tackle dandruff more effectively.
Psoriasis is a skin condition that causes your skin to be dry, red, flaky and results in patches of skin becoming scaly. The scalp is often the worst-affected area, with the severity varying from person to person. Scratching the itch can make the skin sore and may make the skin bleed or crack. Also, you may suffer from temporary hair loss in patches.
Similar to dandruff, psoriasis occurs when there is an overproduction of new skin cells. This process should usually take up to 3 or 4 weeks. However, in cases of psoriasis, this process is accelerated and only takes about 3 to 7 days. This build-up of skin cells results in the silvery, scaly patches of skin.
Psoriasis is often attributed to a problem with the immune system. Ordinarily, your immune system fights off disease and infection to keep your body healthy. However, where psoriasis is concerned, the cells that normally fight bacteria start attacking healthy cells and prompt the skin to produce a new layer much earlier than required.
Psoriasis is thought to have a genetic link. Also, triggers, such as alcohol, smoking, injury and certain medicines can initiate and worsen the effects of psoriasis.
There is no cure for psoriasis but there is a range of treatments available to improve your symptoms and help keep the condition under control. Our experts can help form a diagnosis and provide effective treatment based on their assessment, including:
- Topical creams and ointments
- Tablets and injections (severe cases)
Eczema is a common condition, where the skin is unable to retain moisture effectively. This leads to itchy, red, dry and cracked skin on many areas of the body, including the scalp.
The itching varies in severity. However, constant itching and scratching can lead to infection, requiring further treatment.
Although eczema is not contagious, those who have siblings or parents with eczema have an increased likelihood of developing eczema themselves. Additionally, the dryness of the skin can make the skin more sensitive to triggers that can cause flare-ups.
- Irritants (e.g., soaps and detergents)
- Hormonal changes
- Skin infections
If you are aware of any triggers, it may be possible to eliminate them from your everyday life. However, this may not always be possible. For example, you can stop using certain irritants but you cannot control the weather.
At Ahmeys, our healthcare professionals are well placed to help highlight any potential triggers and provide a management and treatment plan, including any necessary medication, that is tailored to the individual.
Head lice are commonly associated with young children. However, head lice can affect people of any age. Itching is often caused by lice or their eggs present in the scalp.
Head lice are contagious and are picked up through head-to-head contact.
Head lice and nits can be removed through wet combing. You can buy specialist nit combs (detection combs) that are fine-toothed. Once you have washed your hair and applied large amounts of conditioner, you can comb the entire head to locate and get rid of the head lice.
If you are concerned, Ahmeys healthcare professionals are available for further advice and if needed, offer medicated lotions and sprays.