About Itchy Scalp
Itchy scalp is one of the most common health complaints, because it can occur for a variety of reasons. Dry scalp, which results from an underproduction of lubrication secretions from sebaceous glands, often leads to irritating – and sometimes quite painful – itchy scalp.
On the other end of the spectrum, oily scalp, which is often associated with dandruff, can lead to aggravating itchy scalp. Oily scalp most often occurs when the dermal (top) level of the scalp is exposed to over-producing sebaceous secretions.
Whatever the cause, most people will agree that itchy scalp is at best a very irritating problem, and at worst, a serious health ailment that can negative affect sleep, ability to concentrate, and ability to perform day-to-day functions.
Cause of Itchy Scalp
Itchy scalp is most often due to dry scalp or oily scalp. However, that begs another question: what causes dry and oily scalp? A number of factors create these two conditions that can lead to dry scalp. These factors include:
- poor diet, such as one lacking enough Vitamin B, C, zinc, and iron
- an excess intake of Vitamin A
- not enough protein in diet
- too much stress and anxiety
- poor hair washing technique (not cleansing the scalp)
- exposure to very dry conditions, such as during winter or in an air conditioned environment
- air travel
- harsh shampoos which pull moisture away from the scalp
Unfortunately, whatever the cause, the itchiness of itchy scalp often compels people to scratch; and this almost always makes things worse! In fact, the situation can become so severe, that medical intervention is necessary. Indeed, even people who carefully resist the temptation to scratch their itchy scalp during the day may not realize that they unconsciously scratch their head during sleep; and when they wake up, they’re greeted with a sore and tender scalp that is vulnerable to infection.
How to treat Itchy Scalp
The key to treating itchy scalp is to understand why the itchiness is occurring. For people who experience itchy scalp due to dry scalp or dry environmental conditions, increasing water intake and/or reducing intake of caffeine and alcohol (or any diuretic) can lead to improvement. Improvements to diet can also do the trick, such as adding citrus fruits to diet, increasing protein intake, and avoiding foods that are high in fatty acids (such as potato chips!).
If the problem is more severe or prolonged, a specially formulated anti-fungal shampoo may be necessary. Most people who experience itchy scalp due to dandruff will choose this solution. Most of these shampoos are available without a prescription, though if the problem is serious and the itch is spreading to the ears, face, and neck, then a doctor may prescribe a more potent shampoo.
Another treatment that some people find relief from is actually not a treatment in the technical sense, but an avoidance of hair products that could be causing an allergic reaction. These can include hair sprays, gels, bleaches, and hair colors.