The Itchy Scalp

Common Causes of Itchy Scalp Conditions

& What To Do About Them

An itchy scalp can be one of the most bothersome experiences that you might have. There are many medical reasons that this condition can develop, but some are more common than others. Listed below are 10 conditions that can be associated with itchy scalp problems.

10 Common Causes of Itchy Scalp Conditions

  • There can be itching of the scalp that is associated with a normal appearing scalp. The itching can be mild, moderate, or severe and is frequently triggered by stress or anxiety. With chronic rubbing and scratching, patches of hair loss can develop. Medically, this condition is referred to as neurodermatitis.
  • Itching and flaking can be associated with scaling and flaking, which is common with seborrheic dermatitis.
  • Itchy, flaky scalp in children between the ages of 1 and 9 is oftentimes due to a ringworm infection of the scalp, also known as tinea capitis. This problem needs oral medication for 4 to 8 weeks to cure it completely.
  • Itchy scalp conditions associated with a crawling situation can be associated with head lice. White nits are present stuck on the hair, and it may be possible to identify live organisms crawling on the scalp.
  • Allergies to black hair dye can cause itching, blisters and oozing.
  • Lichen planus is a scalp disease that can cause itching associated with purple patches and hair loss.
  • Psoriasis of the scalp is associated with thick, silvery scales. Occasional individuals with psoriasis may get itching of the scalp as well.
  • Chemical treatments, and perm burns can lead to itching of the scalp in susceptible individuals.
  • Traction Folliculitis which causes bumps, dryness, and flaking due to excessive tension on the hair can be associated with itching in some cases.
  • Most individuals with scalp infections develop tenderness and soreness, but itchy scalp problems can also occur at the same time. Some individuals with itchy scalp actually scratch their heads so much that open areas develop that become secondarily infected and contribute to the bacterial infection.
  • What you can do to help your itchy scalp condition.

    1. Use a medicated shampoos containing zinc pyrithione to treat scaly, flaky scalp conditions and itching due to seborrheic dermatitis. These shampoos are most compatible with permed hair and less likely to cause breakage, however a conditioner is still required.
    2. Use over the counter 1%Hydrocortisone ointment or liquid drops up to twice daily as needed to stop scaling, flaking, and itching. (For adults only). There should be significant improvement in 1-2 weeks.
    3. All kids between the ages of 1 and 9 should be taken in for medical evaluation since there is a greater than 95% chance that they have a ringworm infection that will need oral antibiotics to cure the problem. As long as the child goes untreated, the condition will be contagious and can spread to others.
    4. If itching is associated with hair loss, seek medical attention as early as possible to have a diagnosis made and more potent treatment started if necessary to help prevent permanent baldness.
    5. In those cases where stress is a contributing factor, it is important to use behavior modification to find something else to do in place of scratching the scalp since this habit can become imprinted in the subconscious mind and continue on even when medications have healed the scalp.
    6. On occasion oral antihistamines are required to stop the itching sensation until medications used on the scalp heal the inflammation.
    7. If soreness develops and bleeding or pus bumps appear it may be necessary to take prescription antibiotics to help get the scalp to heal and stop the itching associated with the infection.

    If you are having a problem with an itchy scalp and would like to have an expert medical evaluation, call 713 665-7300 today to set up an appointment with Doctor Weaver.


    See our Scalp Diseases page for more information on
    conditions that cause Itchy Scalp.