How to treat an itchy scalp

Few things are as irritating – yet so easy to take for granted – as an itchy scalp. Rather than  simply waiting it out, there are plenty of ways you can take action today.

First and foremost: if your scalp is persistently itchy, and for longer than you would consider normal, see a GP and get a dermatologist referral if needed. There are several skin conditions (including basic recurring dandruff) that can be quickly and effectively treated once identified. So while it may seem trivial in the short term, a little medical advice can be absolutely worth your while in the long run.

Beyond this, there are plenty of other tricks to try, ranging from simple lifestyle choices to bizarre home remedies. Which of these have worked for you? Are there any you would add to the list?

Dry and brush your hair well each and every day
Damp hair will cause your scalp to dry as the moisture evaporates, so oddly, desired dryness now will prevent undesired dryness tomorrow. It’s also important to brush and comb regularly; this will help distribute the scalp’s natural oils.

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Experiment with new shampoos
Sometimes a simple change of product will help. A new shampoo or conditioner can help wash out the residue of your previous choice, which may help you identify if it was triggering the reaction.

Avoid anything that contains alcohol, which can make dryness worse.

Wear a hat
Sunburn on the scalp can easily go unnoticed, or mistaken for routine irritation. If you find yourself with a burned scalp, aloe vera shampoo can help ease the irritation.

Try special over-the-counter shampoos
For dandruff, skin conditions and fungal infections, your pharmacy will stock plenty of over-the-counter shampoos designed specifically to fight them. Products that traditionally work well include coal tar, salicylic acid and anti-fungal agents.

Try alternating different shampoos to see what works best; some have better success by casting a wider net this way.

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Have fun with home remedies
We cannot vouch directly for these, but there are plenty of treatments – often involving home food items – purported to do the trick. Some of the most popular suggestions include:

  • Lemon juice
    This is a popular one for dandruff. Simply apply it straight to the scalp, let it sit for a few minutes, then shampoo your hair. A more adventurous suggestion: mix it with yogurt; the zinc and lactic acid are said to help hydrate your hair.

  • Sesame seed oil
    Live Strong suggests that this can be massaged directly into your scalp each night, over a period of about 10 minutes, before bed. Wrap your head in a towel to let it absorb for another 10 minutes – or even all night if you wish. Shampoo thoroughly the next morning.

  • Apple cider vinegar
    My Health Tips suggests this as an ideal disinfectant that prevents the growth of fungus. Mix 1/4 cup of vinegar with 3/4 cup of water. Rinse your hair with it in between the shampoo and conditioner, letting it sit massaged into your scalp for 3-5 minutes.

  • Baking soda
    Home Remedies proposes rubbing a little olive oil into your scalp, then applying a paste of baking soda mixed with water. Soak it into your scalp for 15 minutes, then rinse well.

Have you dealt with a dry or itchy scalp? Which of these remedies have worked for you? What would you add to the list?