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