Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

Dandruff can be a possible causes of an itchy scalp.

Dandruff can be a possible causes of an itchy scalp.
beginning of content

Itchy scalp

An itchy scalp is annoying. There are many different reasons your head might be itchy. It’s important to know why your scalp is itchy, so you can get the right treatment.

What is itchy scalp

An itch is an irritation of your skin that makes you want to scratch.

You can develop itchy skin anywhere on your body, including your scalp. Doctors sometimes call itchiness pruritis.

Common causes of itchy scalp

There are many possible causes of an itchy scalp. Some common conditions include:

  • Dandruff – white, dry flakes of dead skin on your scalp and hair from excessive skin production. Usually there’s no obvious reason for it to happen, but sometimes it’s caused by seborrhoeic dermatitis.
  • Seborrhoeic dermatitis – inflammation of your scalp and causes itch and skin flaking.
  • Psoriasis – a chronic skin condition that causes raised red scaly areas of skin (also called plaques).
  • Tinea – a fungal infection of the skin causing red, flaky patches and itching. If you get tinea on your scalp, it is called tinea capitis.
  • Head lice – contagious small insects that live in your hair and cause itching.

Itchy scalp treatment

There are different treatments for different causes. Your doctor or pharmacist can help.

Treatments may include:

  • moisturising creams and ointments
  • special shampoos, such as anti-dandruff shampoos
  • specific treatment, such as:
    • head lice treatment
    • antifungal medicine for tinea capitis
    • corticosteroid creams for seborrheic dermatitis
    • psoriasis medication.

Itchy scalp prevention

If you get an itchy scalp often, see your doctor and make sure you know what causes it. If you have chronic conditions such as dandruff, seborrhoeic dermatitis or psoriasis, you might need regular treatment. There are some shampoos that can help – talk to your pharmacist.

If you have tinea capitis or head lice, proper treatment will help. Then you can talk to your doctor or pharmacist about how to stop it coming back.

Last reviewed: November 2015

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Found 82 results

Kids' Health - Topics - Dandruff - does your head feel itchy?

The skin of the scalp has many layers. Cells start growing in the dermis at the bottom, and work their way up until they form a layer of dead cells on the skin surface.

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website

Dandruff and itching scalp

Itching scalp can be caused by a number of conditions, including dandruff, seborrhoeic dermatitis and psoriasis.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Head lice

Head lice is common among school-age children. Find out more about head lice, causes, symptoms, prevention and a step by step guide to removing head lice.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Dandruff - myDr.com.au

Dandruff is when your scalp sheds excessive amounts of larger-than-normal skin flakes. These flakes stick to the hair shafts, eventually falling on the collars and shoulders of clothes.

Read more on myDr website

Head lice

Head lice are tiny insect parasites that live on your head and feed on your scalp (the skin covering your head).

Read more on WA Health website

Tinea capitis - ACD

Tinea capitis is a fungal infection of the scalp and hair. It most commonly affects children between three to seven years of age but adults can also be affected.

Read more on Australasian College of Dermatologists website

Daivobet 50/500 Gel - myDr.com.au

Daivobet 50/500 Gel - Consumer Medicines Information leaflets of prescription and over-the-counter medicines

Read more on myDr – Consumer Medicine Information website

Hair transplant surgery

Hair transplant surgery is a procedure used to treat hair loss. Various techniques are available, but all hair transplants involve taking hair-bearing skin from one part of the scalp and grafting these pieces of skin onto bald or thinning areas of the scalp or areas of trauma.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Psoriasis: what you need to know - myDr.com.au

Psoriasis is characterised by red scaly patches on the skin that may be sore or itchy. Although there is no cure for psoriasis, in most cases the disease can be well controlled.

Read more on myDr website

Dermatitis herpetiformis - ACD

Dermatitis herpetiformis is an uncommon itchy skin condition which can occur at any age. It is a specific skin change seen in coeliac disease.

Read more on Australasian College of Dermatologists website

Check your symptoms Find a health service

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo
Feedback