UNDERSTANDING CAUSES OF ITCHY SCALP
An itchy scalp is just like any other itching. It is a result of a complex process your body goes through in response to some irritation. Find out why your head is itching and what you can do about it.
Nobody likes to sit and scratch their head, be it due to an infection or confusion. It has too many negative associations for anyone to invite it into their lives. And although the severity of the scalp itch might vary, everyone has experienced this in some form or the other.
What is an itchy scalp?
Itching is the body’s response to irritation, whether it’s chemical – such as an allergen – or mechanical, such as an insect or fabric rubbing on your skin. When you experience some irritation, your body triggers an itch response within seconds at the site of the irritation.
This response is commonly seen on the head and the two most likely suspects for an itchy scalp are dry scalp and dandruff. They aren’t the same and shouldn’t be mixed up, as their treatments are quite different. But apart from these, there are a host of itchy scalp causes that you might need to be aware of.
What are some of the reasons for itchy scalp?
Allergic reactions –When your body is exposed to allergens or irritants, your scalp might react with severe itching. This happens often when you shift to a new hair product, which your body might be sensitive towards. This is also seen with people who’ve decided to colour their hair. Some salons use harsh chemical treatments which can force your scalp to react. This can be handled by removing the product in question or with medication.
Sunburn –You might not think of this as a reason for an itchy scalp, but venturing out into the heat without covering your head can cook your scalp. This can force your scalp to lose large amounts of moisture, leading to redness, swelling and unfortunately – an itchy scalp. It can also cause sensitivity, scaling and hair loss, but those are in extreme cases. Always cover your head when you’re stepping out into intense sunlight and use heat protection oils like Argan oil.
Scalp Psoriasis –Scalp Psoriasis is a rare auto-immune disease that affects about 3% of the world. It is instigated by a hyperactive immune system that leads to a build-up of cells on your scalp and is characterised by raised red patches of scaly skin. Generally, these are mild and slip below our radar, but sometimes they can form multiple patches across the scalp. It is accompanied by intense itching, dry scalp, flaking, burning or stinging sensation, and a silver texture to the scales. The treatment requires medicated shampoos and oral medication. You should always visit a dermatologist to get an accurate diagnosis.
Seborrheic Dermatitis –This can almost be considered as a harsher form of dandruff. It is accompanied by thick oily patches of red skin and severe itchy rashes. Not relegated just to your scalp, it can show up in different parts of the body. It is caused by a naturally occurring fungus and excessive oil secretion on the skin. It sometimes clears up on its own but can flare up again. If anti-dandruff scalp shampoos don’t work, it is important to visit a dermatologist to get a medicated shampoo.
Lice –Nobody wants to accept that they might have lice on their head, but it’s one of the most common reasons for itchy scalp. These are tiny, wingless insects that take root on your scalp and feed on the blood. Most people have had some experience with lice when they’re young, but it can always come back around. These are easier to identify and take care of. You can use the old school method of oil and comb, or you can find a medicated shampoo that kills the lice.
Acne and Inflammation –It doesn’t sound like a fancy reason for an itchy scalp, but poor hygiene and blocked pores can lead to acne and inflammation on your scalp. Folliculitis is a common condition where your hair follicles get inflamed, and you’ll find red welts on your scalp. This rash-like feeling is accompanied by severe itching and the infection can grow if not taken care of. Maintaining scalp health with the use of shampoos and medicated creams can help get rid of this problem.
Itchy scalp and Dandruff
The cause of dandruff is a naturally occurring fungus called Malassezia Globosa. This fungus feeds on any excess oil found on your scalp and breaks it down into constituents that you might be sensitive towards. Almost half the world is.
Dandruff is the body’s response to this irritation, and this irritation can trigger the body’s itch response. So, if your scalp becomes irritated by dandruff, it triggers an itchy feeling. This slowly develops into redness on your scalp and then the flaking of white oily dead skin cells.
But the itch can start before the flakes. The body’s itch response is fast and can happen before dandruff flakes even appear. So, while you might think you don’t have dandruff, if you’re itching, there’s a good chance you will soon have a dandruff itchy scalp.
What should you do?
An itchy scalp causes everyone to pour oil onto their head, hoping that it will magically solve all their problems. The best way to tackle your itching is to identify the root cause of the problem. You can’t use the medicated shampoos that are meant for Scalp Psoriasis on your lice problem. And vice versa.
Similarly, you might want to use oil on a dry scalp, but that could make your dandruff problem much worse. Visit a dermatologist for an accurate reading of what troubles you before trying anything.
The most common ailment is dandruff as it affects so many people across the world. You should use a reputed anti-dandruff shampoo to help with this. Try the Head and Shoulders Cool Menthol shampoo infused with a cooling menthol complex – it’s been proven to tackle itch and irritation caused by dandruff, while giving a cooling sensation in the shower. If you want a product that cleans your scalp and gets rid of the germs that are causing your itch, use the Head and Shoulders Neem. Try and see if these can finally help you get rid of that itchy scalp.