Is your itchy scalp raising your hair?

 Is your itchy scalp raising your hair?

Having an itchy scalp can be frustrating and embarrassing. Here is what you can do to get some relief:

Causes of an itchy scalp

Before you can treat it, you should learn the cause of the affliction. According to Milady’s Standard Cosmetology (A. Alpert, ©2004), the most common causes of an itchy scalp are:

  • Build-up

Overactive sebaceous glands (oil glands) and a variety of hair products can build-up on the scalp and cause irritation.

  • Dryness

Inactive sebaceous glands and a lack of moisture in your hair or scalp, can result in an itchy scalp. Your scalp may become flaky. This will be aggravated by dry weather conditions or being in an airconditioned environment where the humidity is low.

  • Dandruff (Pityriasis) coupled with inflammation (seborrheic dermatitis)

Photo: Medical News Today

Dandruff can present as large flakes that are attached to the scalp or scatter in the hair and fall to the shoulders. In other cases, they may actually feel greasy, and FORM? scales and crusts. If it becomes itchy, painful and red with inflammation, it is referred to as seborrheic dermatitis. This may occasionally spread to the eyebrows and beard.

  • Vegetable parasitic (fungal) infections

Tinea, also known as ringworm, is not a worm at all. It’s a fungal infection that can cause painful, itchy circular lesions. Infected skin cells and hairs that contain the fungi can spread the disease. You can actually continuously infect yourself by rinsing your hair in the bathtub, using the same towel between baths without washing it, or using a hairbrush without sanitising between uses. 

Tinea can affect your scalp by causing red papules. The hair growing from the follicles in these spots may become brittle and lifeless. If it presents as a sulphur-yellow cup-like crust, it may result in scarring and bold patches. This is often referred to as honeycomb ringworm.

  • Animal parasitic infection

Photo: Verywell | Emily Roberts

The itch mite, also known as scabies burrows under the skin. Head lice will feed on your scalp. These parasites are transmitted from one person to another.

  • Staphylococci Infections

This refers to the bacterial infection of the hair follicle or the tissue beneath the hair. It may present as an enormous painful pimple, with redness and a localised itch.

  • Contact dermatitis

This is an itch and inflammation in the scalp that presents as an allergic reaction. This can happen with any known allergen, hair product, treatment or even colouring.

  • Secondary cause: pH

Your pH can be off if you have had your hair coloured or you have used a product that alters the pH of your scalp. This can make your scalp a haven for fungal growths.

What to do when the itch hits

  • Don’t do any colouring or treatments on your scalp if you’ve had an itchy scalp for more than a few days. Consult your stylist, they will give you the appropriate advice on when you can have your hair done
  • Stay away from harsh, strong hair products
  • Sanitise your hair brush and styling tools between uses
  • Use a fresh towel every day
  • Don’t pick at the affected area, it may cause a spread and scarring / bold patches
  • Don’t share any items that come into contact with your hair

Products that is safe to use

When to see your doctor

If you experience anything that may be an infection, allergic reaction or inflammation, consult your doctor or pharmacist immediately. They will offer a medicated shampoo, antifungal treatment or a remedy to the allergic reaction that will effectively treat and manage your condition.

Unfortunately, some conditions are chronic, or you will have a higher risk to suffer them due to your environment or job. In these cases, it is best to let your doctor, pharmacist and hair stylist work together on a plan going forward.

Read more: Protein or Moisture – Your hair may need either, or both