How to cure itchy scalp

Taya’s trouble…Dear Beauty Brains, I just read up on your article about smelly scalps and wanted to know if there are any causes or solutions to itchy scalps. My sister started developing an itchy scalp several months back and it would sometimes get so itchy she would have to shower twice a day and she would also itch her hair/head in her sleep! One time she was so desperate that she put socks on her hands to stop her from itching. The weather doesn’t seem to affect it and she doesn’t produce a lot of dandruff and her hair looks normal in every way just the itching. We have checked for lice and there are none. She also had two spots on her head before this. My conclusion maybe, that we have a faulty shower – which can get really hot – and my sister and mother are the only two who for some reason can deal with hot water. Which seems to be the most plausible explanation. At first I thought that buying her some deep-cleanse shampoo would do the trick but it didn’t really work. We don’t think it’s that much of a deal unless she actually makes her scalp bleed (which thank goodness has not happened), also worried if it might weaken her hair follicles? I told her if she keeps scratching she’ll become bald.

The Left Brain responds:

Taya’s question prompted an interesting discussion in our Forum where Lindygirl and SarahF, and Vanyel pointed out that itchy scalp can have multiple causes.

Itchy scalp: causes and cures

Frequent washing with hot water can strip oils from your skin which could be contributing to the dryness. Dandruff is another common cause of itching. And of course there could be other medical conditions like psoriasis. My first suggestion is to try an anti-dandruff shampoo like Head & Shoulders, Selsun Blue, or Nizoral. The active ingredients in these products will reduce itchiness if indeed dandruff is the cause. She should specifically avoid using deep cleansing shampoos like you described – these are likely to only make the problem worse because they are “stronger” cleansers and can strip additional oils from the scalp. Reducing shampoo frequency may also be helpful. She might benefit using a dry shampoo on the days that she skips washing. (And if that doesn’t work she can always try rubbing whipping cream in her hair, as the Curly Girl Handbook suggests…)

If these steps don’t help, she should probably check with a dermatologist to rule out other skin conditions.